If you have found yourself feeling anxious over the contention and chaos of society, you are not alone. However, you can quell that surge of anxiety by staying in the moment, noticing how your breath may be key to living a better life, and creating feelings of trust for you and those most important to you.

Nearly half of Americans report feeling moderately to very concerned about the safety of their money in their bank.[i] Only 16 percent of Americans say that lawyers’ honesty and ethical behavior are “high” or “very high,” according to a December 2023 Gallup poll. However, it gets worse. Lawyers are more trusted than business leaders, insurance salespeople, or stockbrokers. A dismal 12 percent of Americans consider those people highly ethical and honest[ii], and only half of Americans (both Democrats and Republicans) view politicians as ethical.[iii]

With so much distrust in our basic foundations of society, skepticism and distrust are spilling over into our intimate relationships. How can we begin to heal and create trust and connection in our most important relationships?

We may need a little help from tools that can facilitate healing from betrayal, whether societal or within these close relationships. A betrayal therapist, Geoff Steurer, recently said, “Honesty and transparency are the same thing.” [iv] That’s an important point for us to insist on within our relationships—no matter what the context.

Being honest is being transparent. We do not shade or hide. Disclosure is an act of courage and love. Disclosure creates trust when regularly used. Emotional disclosure takes practice. It doesn’t come easily to most.

Public discourse has been going down a slippery slope of shading what honesty is or isn’t. Shading is not honesty. Some recent research confirms this idea. Fidelity within a relationship is more than simply not having sex with someone outside the marriage.[v] Fidelity within a relationship is transparency, an effort to nurture the intimacy of the relationship.

Being more mindful is one tool that nurtures honesty and creates an environment of trust. Mindfulness and honesty are co-companions in that mindfulness requires complete honesty with yourself. Can you be completely honest about what is going on at any given moment? It may be something you don’t like or want, but it is what the present moment is.

Being authentic or honest requires transparency about your inner truth, instincts, and emotions. These realities may create internal conflict or ambiguity, but being mindful allows us to acknowledge the discomfort and sit with the uncomfortable truth. Only when we can sit with uncomfortable truths can we begin to find answers or solutions. Mindfulness keeps us internally honest and helps us avoid hiding or self-deception.

Pema Chödrön said, “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

It takes courage to honestly evaluate where and how we need to change and speak up about where and how our relationships need to change. Without honesty and transparency, we will never build a community of trust within our professional or intimate relationships.

Interacting with people who are trustworthy is associated with being more mindful.[vi] Ideally, we could create a community of practice, sometimes known as a sangha, an environment that is conducive to mindfulness [8]. When we are mindful, we are more authentic and trustworthy. We create an environment that has a positive influence on our professional and intimate relationships.[vii] By focusing on the present, we are less likely to get caught up in ruminating over the past or the future. We can let go of other’s evaluations and be more intentional about forming deep connections with others.[viii]

Thích Nhất Hạnh reminds us how to work through the process of re-establishing trust and connection, “No mud, no lotus: Both suffering and happiness are of an organic nature, which means they are both transitory; they are always changing. The flower, when it wilts, becomes the compost. The compost can help grow a flower again. Happiness is also organic and impermanent by nature. It can become suffering, and suffering can become happiness again.”[ix]

Relationships of trust take time. Like a mother who responds to the crying baby without judgment or criticism, we can respond to uncomfortable issues within our relationships by acknowledging the suffering, the sorrow, and the disconnection. We can be honest and transparent about problems and differences of opinion while also being gentle and compassionate. We can respond to struggles with the gentle cradling of mindfulness, not with destructive shading or hiding. Mindfulness is the starting point to re-establishing trust.

References

[i] https://www.pbs.org/video/is-your-money-safe-in-a-bank-6epd7d/

[ii] https://abovethelaw.com/2024/01/people-now-trust-lawyers-more-than-lawm….

[iii] https://today.yougov.com/politics/articles/44334-moral-state-american-p…

[iv] https://www.geoffsteurer.com/blog/q-a-with-geoff-how-can-i-know-my-husb…

[v] Leavitt, C. E., Hendricks, J. J., Clarke, R. W., Marks, L. D., Dollahite, D. C., & Rose, A. H. (2023). Integrity and fidelity in highly religious marriages. Family Relations.

[vi] Kudesia, R. S., & Reina, C. S. (2019). Does interacting with trustworthy people enhance mindfulness? An experience sampling study of mindfulness in everyday situations. PloS one, 14(4), e0215810.

[vii] https://hbr.org/2016/01/mindfulness-isnt-much-harder-than-mindlessness#….

{viii] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/mindfulness

[ix] Thích Nhất Hạnh (2014). No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering.

More references

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About the Author

Chelom E. Leavitt, J.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University.

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Feeling Distrustful? Mindfulness May Help Re-establish Trust

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14.05.2024

If you have found yourself feeling anxious over the contention and chaos of society, you are not alone. However, you can quell that surge of anxiety by staying in the moment, noticing how your breath may be key to living a better life, and creating feelings of trust for you and those most important to you.

Nearly half of Americans report feeling moderately to very concerned about the safety of their money in their bank.[i] Only 16 percent of Americans say that lawyers’ honesty and ethical behavior are “high” or “very high,” according to a December 2023 Gallup poll. However, it gets worse. Lawyers are more trusted than business leaders, insurance salespeople, or stockbrokers. A dismal 12 percent of Americans consider those people highly ethical and honest[ii], and only half of Americans (both Democrats and Republicans) view politicians as ethical.[iii]

With so much distrust in our basic foundations of society, skepticism and distrust are spilling over into our intimate relationships. How can we begin to heal and create trust and connection in our most important relationships?

We may need a little help from tools that can facilitate healing from betrayal, whether societal or within these close relationships. A betrayal therapist, Geoff Steurer, recently said, “Honesty and transparency are the same thing.” [iv] That’s an important point for us to insist on within our relationships—no matter what the context.

Being honest is being transparent. We do not shade or hide. Disclosure is an act of courage and love. Disclosure creates trust when regularly used. Emotional disclosure takes practice. It doesn’t come easily to most.

Public discourse has been going down a slippery slope of shading........

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