the conditionality of trust

25 Nov


I have had some questions about my attitude toward a particular student in one of  my literature classes.  My frustration and impatience with this student has turned my idea of myself as a patient, kind, and supportive teacher on its head – marvelous!  She came just at the right time.

This confining role of goodness I have created for myself needed some examination.  In walks B, 1/2 hour late to every class, her hand up to stop the class mid-flow at her late arrival with personal matters, no book, not prepared, staying after every class trying to manipulate the conversation into praise for herself…what?  Are you kidding?  Sounds cruel to me but what I see is low functioning with arrogance.  To move out of low functioning, she will need to understand the tough work ahead of her.  I am unable to stay in my shallow role of helper with her. I am having to learn to express my genuine frustration as a mirror of truth, while also operating with compassion in the moment.  Whew.

Do I trust myself to do the right thing?  When I err on the side of helpfulness without reflecting back to her the consequences of her own behavior, I am not honoring myself or her.  When I err on the side of harsh judgement, I am lost to the possibility of change.   Has she earned my unconditional acceptance?   No!  How do I need to reflect her failure back to her?  How do I give her my honest feedback with integrity – for her benefit, for my own?  How do I help her and myself establish healthy boundaries?  How do I keep hope and promise for the potential for change?

Trust  is not a given with everybody, unconditionally, yet the idea of trust is so golden.  It feels like one can extend the olive branch of love to all, yet trust is actually conditional.  We do not blindly trust until there is agreement.  And agreement can be broken at any time.  We enter into conditional agreement with others.  As we fulfill our agreements, trust grows.

You can build lots of trust over time, only to lose it by a single instance of broken agreement.  Trust has to then be re-built.

The most important trust relationship in my life is with myself.   Once TRUST is established with myself, the rest clicks into place, it feels to me.  When I trust my own self, I can read the truth of my frustration within as a mirror to help reflect back to the student where she may need to reflect on her own behavior.  I can trust myself to stay open in the moment, to feel what I feel, to accept and express all of my feelings, even those that feel unacceptable.  Perhaps I am in the kindergarten class, and all of what I am writing here is like spelling out the A,B C’s.  That is okay.  I may be a bit behind by my false idea of unconditional trust.  I am learning what I need to learn by the experience life hands me.  I am grateful for this student who finds my hidden buttons and pushes them often to help me to see where to examine.

I am learning!  I reflect back to my student B my boundaries, my expectations, my detached judgements that my job requires of me.   I honor my own impatience instead of sweeping it under the rug in some fake dance of compassion.  I have compassion for my own limitations and thus reflect honestly back a truer trust, for real.  When I give myself an outlet for this truth, my compassion and patience grow!

13 Responses to “the conditionality of trust”

  1. The Retired Seeker November 25, 2013 at 2:40 am #

    Thank you for sharing this special insight…thought provoking. Hopefully, I’ll think of this during my next encounter with frustration. Good stuff. 🙂

    • marga t. November 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      Ah, frustration, that may be what I was really getting at. Thank you for reading and responding!!

  2. smilecalm November 25, 2013 at 2:49 am #

    i’m willing to trust you
    if you trust me,
    first 🙂

    • marga t. November 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      ha 🙂 who goes first?
      I will, of course!

  3. Awake November 25, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    I love this: “The most important trust relationship in my life is with myself. Once TRUST is established with myself, the rest clicks into place, it feels to me. When I trust my own self, I can read the truth of my frustration within as a mirror to help reflect back to the student where she may need to reflect on her own behavior.”
    Its been a bit of a trick for me to learn this, but it’s getting better…thanks for sharing…:) Erin

    • marga t. November 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      I am rethinking the word of trust, but I am point to “something” ! Something similar to this comes up often with parenting, doesn’t it? So glad it’s getting better – here too! xo! marga

  4. S November 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    I don’t know how you do the things you do… are amazingly patient with things that would drive me crazy! Surely it is a gift that you apply exceedingly beautifully. You are a role model 🙂

    On trust: After some time contemplating, I came to the personal position (emphasis on personal) that trust is a false concept. I tossed it out the window. To me, trust is all about the conditional, as you expressed. “First you have to earn my trust (read: behave the way I think you should behave to make me happy). Then, you better watch your step because if you f&$k up, from my point of view, then I will no longer trust you because you are not worthy (read: you have not lived up to my ideals and biases and so I reject you).” So I dumped the concept of trust. I have no use for it. But that’s just me.

    Much love!!

    • marga t. November 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

      Oh so right, Sheila! Thank you for the compliment about my “patience”! Such a relative thing. I think this writing here may be exploring the drawback to patience as a label for myself. Perhaps I am not really talking about trust, for I do so agree with the false concept you describe. Maybe I’m talking about my ability to allow my frustration. Maybe I’m talking about boundaries, equanimity, the freedom I can give others to be who they are when I am honest and accepting of myself and my unattractive emotions, such as frustration. Trust is one of those heavy words, isn’t it, like responsibility, belief, fidelity…
      Hope you are having a peaceful flow today!

      • S November 25, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

        I feel ya sista!

  5. Kelly Kuhn November 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Ooh, you pushed my button today, marga. In a good way. Lots of very deep (as in past life deep) gunk is coming up, and I’m confronted with the extent of my lack of trusting myself. Hmmm, that’s not right, because it isn’t just that I lack self-trust. No, I actively DO NOT trust myself. Problem is, I don’t know exactly what is at the heart of it. But, one day at a time, I’m getting closer. I’m grateful for your post – it was one more nudge from the Universe.

    By the way, I’m continuing to read the lines you wrote to me from one of my latest posts. To the effect of: My issue is resolved, but I need to watch myself in situations that trigger my old stuff, and make sure I’m staying open to the new way of being.


    • marga t. November 26, 2013 at 12:00 am #

      How mysterious it is when things nudge, button push, and resonate with us – so unplanned, yet purposeful and validating from another level. I’m walking along with you sister, learning to trust myself, which when i type the words seems so true and obvious, yet at times, hard still! Much love and warm peace sent to you! 🙂

  6. seeingm December 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    I am crushing on this teacher!!!! 🙂

    Oh the joys of the real teaching that is going on while “teaching”. You are so incredibly excellent Marga. Your students are so lucky to have you, and you them. -x.M

    • marga t. December 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

      OH Ms. M – What a wonderful light you shine on and through me! The culmination of the dance with this Student B was today. No shiny mr. chips, to sir, with love or freedom writers movie moments, but plodding along as student as much as teacher. This is what I wanted to say: The flow of universe through us is so mysterious. When I had to step back from the situation, I got to witness two other students step into their compassion. One helped her with a draft and another offered a supportive ear. Crushing right back on my high flying, light shining, scarf dancing, wind prancing friend 🙂 XO! M and M

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