Trust and compassion

Hilary Smith

Hilary Smith is a writer with Relationships Aotearoa and an experienced counsellor. www.relationshipsaotearoa.org.nz

Call it unconditional love. Call it acceptance. Whatever you'd like to call it, we crave it.

Love Note 1

We want people in our lives that both love us and understand us. Sometimes love or understanding alone is not quite enough for us. We want them both.

Someone understanding you and then rejecting you is an obvious sore point. Someone loving you based on an idea that doesn’t match what you’re actually like can be a minefield. It can trap you into playing a part, always waiting to be ‘found out’, and maybe found wanting.

Feeling accepted and valued by others is important. It’s so important that anything getting in the way can loom very large.  The possibility of rejection can be scary. When it gets public and someone realizes that their response matters to you, the stakes just get higher.

So sometimes you get in your own way. You might make out you don’t care when you actually feel gutted, and then resent the lack of sympathy coming your way.  Or maybe you act like your strong interest in someone is only light and casual, and they believe you and look for closeness elsewhere.

As a life strategy this leaves a lot to be desired. It confuses people and breeds misunderstanding. It assumes that the cost of a response that hurts you is much greater than the benefit of a response you want. Acting this way just makes it harder to have accepting, loving relationships.
 
Relationships work best when acceptance goes both ways. How open you are to being understood effects how easily someone else can understand you.

When you cover up your feelings you give people the message that you don’t trust them. It pushes them away rather than bringing them closer.  It means they have to figure out what you’re really feeling and what response you want from them. And what if they get it wrong?

You ask them to carry all the risk and it’s a big ask.

What you might want to do is share the risk. Be direct about what you feel and trust people to answer your feelings with compassion.
 
Trust is your greatest strength in building acceptance. You trust yourself to be worth knowing and loving. You trust people to be capable of recognising and appreciating your value. And again you trust yourself to be okay on the odd occasion that someone hasn’t yet figured out that knowing you is a good thing.

When you act out of trust you move towards intimacy and acceptance. You let yourself and others know that it’s okay for you to feel what you feel. You show  compassion by accepting your own feelings and that compassion invites people to be more open with you about what they feel. Bingo ! You start moving towards each other.
 
If it feels like being open with people is too risky, think about what you risk by staying closed. If you want closer, more accepting relationships then unleash your trust and compassion. Love and acceptance can start with you.

 
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  • Wice says
    Fair comment. It’s hard to read a closed book and even though the cover may show one thing, the contents may tell a very different story.
  • KH says
    Trusting yourself to be worth knowing and loving is key, I think.
  • Starlite5 says
    This touched a chord with me...in the past outwardly I was confident, outgoing, seemingly in charge and trusting while all the while keeping hidden secret pains as I tried to go about my life until it overwhelmed me and all turned to custard...then I discovered that I wasn't being so clever and that what is inside you will eventually come and that love that great healer of all things actually had to come from inside of me in order for me to project it...now that I've discovered this my whole life has done a complete flip and I'm on the road to living the life I was meant to live...

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