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Trustworthy relationships

"Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." Carl Gustav Jung

Trust is a general belief that we can rely on each other, it is a response to the trustworthiness of each of us. You trust the people you feel close to more, because you assume they will not betray or hurt you. However, trust is an assumption, whereas the level of trustworthiness is the proof that your assumption was right or wrong.

That you can be who you really are, without putting the mask on or pretending, you need to feel physically and emotionally safe. Only when trust is high can you openly express your feelings, thoughts, ideas and information. But when trust is low, people tend to be dishonest, inconsiderate and often evasive.

Normally you connect with like-minded people or environments where you feel safe and appreciated. Trust and transparency are the pillars of any healthy relationship or community.

Trust impacts most of your decisions; the way how you choose to dance, who you dance with, who you take lessons or collaborate in projects with, which events you attend as competitor, coach or adjudicator.

The aim of this article is to make you aware of how to place your trust more intelligently or refuse it when necessary. But most importantly, to help you put a lens on how you experience the bridges of trust and betrayal.

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Trustworthiness before trust

A trustworthy person is competent, honest and reliable. Therefore you need to observe behaviours, your own and those of others, that contribute to this concept. Trustwortiness is what you need to observe and focus on as trust is only the response to it.

You can easily feel that someone has an intent to do well, but intent is not enough. Being trustworthy in truth claim and action is what matters.

Truth claim tells you about how honest and sincere someone is and also about integrity and transparency of that person.

I once invested quite a considerable amount of money in a fund, suggested by my colleague, with a promise that the yearly interest will be high and I’ll be getting my investment back after five years. I never got the money back and up to the present day I still don’t know what happened. My colleague is without a doubt a very competent expert, for me one of the best, but could never offer me an honest answer about what happened with the money, avoiding discussion. So I’m wondering what the hidden agenda was, I would appreciate an honest explanation. Maybe one day…

Action can be observed in relation to a person’s competence, capability and consistency. There are many highly competent experts in our world, with great capacity, knowledge and experience. Why then "talk the talk, walk the walk", the actions as such don't reflect that? How come that the capacity cannot always meet the truth? It may be fear or greed or other reasons to turn a blind eye when an honest and reliable outcome is expected. Definitely a topic to be investigated.

And finally, there is a reliability, capacity to meet obligations and keep promises. I know people who are very competent and honest but not reliable. They wouldn’t answer the message on time or they forget about a promise. I’m sure you've faced similar situations.

Ideally all mentioned qualities would be combined and overlapped, but unfortunately often this is not the case.

Beautiful demonstration and thoughts...

Rebuilding trust?

When there is not enough or no trust, we tend to talk about rebuilding it, but how can we do that? You cannot rebuild what other people give you. The solution is to look inside, to awake. You are the one who can give others the basis, evidence that you are trustworthy, then they can give you their trust back.

It takes courage to stay vulnerable to other people and offer them adequate, simple and useful evidence that you are trustworthy. Only then will others believe that you will not harm their interest or welfare, that you will be keeping confidences with high regard for privileged information and that you are being committed to the relationship. Interpersonal trust comes first.

For example, you trust your deep concern and worry how to come out with your gender identity to your best friend. Your best friend tells that confidential information to your sister, who tells your parents that you are gay, before you found the courage to speak with them. That hurts and puts the confidence level in the friendship at risk.

In working together with others task related trust is the belief in your ability to do what needs to be done, that you will follow true. Of course trust involves some level of risk and risk has consequences which can pay off in harmful or beneficial ways. It's a two way street, you are also dependent on the actions of others. You can trust them when you are confident that other person will behave in a way that will be beneficial for both sides and not harmful. How to trust your new assistant in teaching, a young, inexperienced person with little knowledge? As a studio owner you might risk that customers will not be satisfied with a new teacher. Or you make sure that you provide consistent staff training and support as long as necessary.

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Anna Netrebko

Being trustworthy

Are you worthy of trust? I'm sure that there are parts of you that can be trusted, but we all also have areas where some work is needed. We often judge ourselves based on our intentions rather than our actions. Somehow we can convince ourselves that what we are doing is right, not being aware that parts of us can be quite self-deceptive when projecting our shadows onto others.

Nearly every person is somehow wounded. The pain that you carry inside you needs to be soothed, you protect yourself with various defence and coping mechanisms. You might have been left by your parents when you were a very young child, so you grew up without feeling safe, wanted and loved. Your basic needs were not met. How do you think that would reflect in your relations with others as an adult and your level of trustworthiness?

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Why trustworthy relations are needed

In some dance organisations, institutions and events trust has declined, but in others it grew. It depends on how trustworthy the officials and members are, how they deal with corruption and how strong the values that hold a certain community together are.

The more the vision of how new ideas could be shared is openly discussed, the greater the level of trust. Creative dialogue is always the first step because it establishes hope.

We all want trust, but why is it needed? Because we cannot change anything until we understand that we have to work on our own trustworthiness. And yet, we are condemning and judging others, which really does not liberate us, quite the opposite, it oppresses us. In the meantime our own dishonesty and guilt start to eat us from inside.

Corruption, greed, all the trouble that we face in the dance industry seems a problem that cannot be solved. But it can be outgrown. Carl Gustav Jung said: "Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people."

There are many lost people around, we label them as “bad” or “corrupted”. Ask yourself if you can somehow inspire them with your transparency, vulnerability, aliveness and compassion. Being trustworthy is an essential part of one’s self-concept, showing others that they can count on you. Having empathy, listening to others and trying to understand them and feel with them can make our dance community a better place for everyone.

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Onora O'Neill, "A question of trust", The BBC Reith Lectures, Cambridge University Press