If you cannot set boundaries, you can only choose between distrust and naiveté

Most people believe that trust is something that develops slowly through positive experiences. We meet somebody and with the time, we develop trust having positive experiences with that person. However, if we look closely that is not really, what happens. Trust is not something that develops. Trust is a decision! We just tend to postpone this decision until we have enough evidence that we can trust the other person or the situation. Still it always needs our decision. This decision can be made consciously or unconsciously. Normally we make it unconsciously or not at all, which reinforces our assumption that trust is something that occurs with the time. We have the imagination that trust just shows up at a certain point or we just continue to be suspicious. The reasons for trust arising or not are mostly based on the actions of the other person or on the conditions of the situation. This could be an assumption, which stands in your own way, blocking the access to unlimited possibilities.

Trust is a decision!

If trust is a decision, we could consciously decide for trust at any time instead of waiting, until there is enough evidence. However, is this really a clever thing to do? There are still good reasons for our lack of trust and our hesitating. Often enough have we been hurt, disappointed, humiliated or left alone, when we trusted too much. On the other hand, trust is the precondition for wonderful experiences and evolution. In relationship, private or professional, trust builds up the space for intimacy, connection and love. Real dedication and commitment is only possible with trust. We also need trust to live our potential and to live a purpose driven life. Trust makes it possible for us to go into unknown territory and a lot more. So how can we manage this balancing act?

One possibility would be to just decide to trust everybody and everything from now on and forever. This concept is usually known as Positive Thinking. True to the motto: “Everything is going to be alright!” You just have to tell it to yourself often enough and to repeat it in front of a mirror: “I trust!” However, the result will often not be real and authentic trust, but mostly naiveté – and there is a huge difference between the two of them, as you can see on this map.



is blind is a form of self confidence
is dewy-eyed is openness
is childish is a conscious decision
is often used as an excuse means to be centred
Everything is going to be alright (in the sense of “I don’t have to do anything”) is a universal principle
I don’t have to take responsibility is responsibility in action
Positive thinking, sugar-coating everything is courage / to dare something
Fading out/ignoring a part of reality(e.g. to believe only in the good in people) to be connected – with myself, with others, with the universe
limited horizon creates the space for love
dumb is a service for myself and others
bury my head in the sand creates possibilities
greenness creates the space for intimacy
covering my eyes and hoping, that nobody sees me like that is the sister of love
not wanting to feel fear, anger or sadness is the responsible use of fear, anger and sadness

Naiveté is irresponsible trust

If you are naive you give away your authority and with that your responsibility – to God, to the universe, to external authorities, to the circumstances or just to the other person. Everything is going to be all right – you do not have to do anything. “The higher force” will care for you! Like this, you just fade out a part of reality. People are not only good – every person has a shadow part, which can seduce him or her to do a lot of mischief. In addition, the imagination that we can have everything at the same time, without creating any consequences is naïve and childish and avoids responsibility. For example

  • the imagination, that you can live a purpose driven life, without leaving your comfort zone
  • the imagination, that you grow up automatically, simply by becoming of age
  • the imagination, that you can consume cheap things, without causing harm somewhere else in the world to people or to the environment
  • the imagination, that “Uncle Sam” will care for you
  • the imagination, that the mainstream media is giving you an honest overview about what happens in this world


Naiveté is very different from trust. But how can you come to authentic trust (as a decision) so you no longer have only the choice between naiveté and distrust. Because both are manoeuvres of our BOX, our surviving mechanism, to make us feel safe and to make us stay in our comfort zones.

Developing your own authority as a precondition for authentic trust

There are some ingredients for real adult trust. In German, the word “trust” is coming from an old word that means something like “strong” and “firm”. In the German Wikipedia there is also a very interesting definition of trust as “the state between the knowing and the not knowing”. In this sense, trust means to be capable of acting, even if we cannot foresee the outcome of a situation. To be trustful in this sense means also to dare something. It is not so much important that the other person behaves in a certain way or that the situation shows certain conditions, but to trust yourself and your own abilities.

With that point of view, also distrust as the opposite of trust gets a new meaning. Distrust then would mean, that you have the assumption, that you cannot handle what might happen, that you cannot take care of yourself. In that moment of distrust, it is not about a lack of trust towards the other person but towards yourself and your qualities.

And this new perspective completely changes the game. Because if you continue waiting, that the other person or the world will change, so that you can trust them, than your life is depending on others. But if trust is a decision, based on the ability to be your own authority and to take a stand for yourself, than you have the possibility to learn it. Any time you want. It is just a part of growing up.

Which abilities are necessary to become your own authority and to be able to decide for trust?

1. You need access to your anger

If you have access to your anger and you are able to use it responsibly and consciously, then you have a reliable navigation system, which gives you a signal every time, when somebody disregards your boundaries or if something is not ok. Your anger also provides you with the essential clarity and energy to say STOP, if something is going too far or to set a boundary and to say NO, if something is not OK for you. If you have access to your inner warrior using your anger, you can take a stand for yourself at any time. So you can decide for trust more often than before.

2. You need access to your fear

As long as fear is a negative feeling for you, which you want to avoid at all costs, you can only choose between distrust and naiveté. As soon as you have access to your fear and it is ok for you to feel fear, you have a reliable navigation system for new situations and the space between the knowing and the not knowing. Because that is the purpose of fear – to inform you about what is going on in the present. Also about what you cannot see with the naked eye. While anger is the doorway to clarity and determination, fear is the doorway to your intuition. Fear makes you able to step carefully into unknown territory and to use your intuition – because in unknown territory former experiences are not always helpful. If you have access to your intuition, you can decide for trust more often than before.

3. You need the ability to stay centred

To be centred means to be present in the here and now and to be in your power. Sounds good, eh? Very often we give our centre and with that our authority away, e.g.

  • when you put your centre into the past and think about what you should have done in a certain situation
  • when you put your centre into the future and think about what you have to do and how you should by any means make it
  • when you put your centre into your head and try to analyse and to understand everything
  • when you give your centre to the media, the TV, the advertising or to the newest products you could buy
  • when you give your centre to so called „authorities“ by adapting your behaviour, just to feel safe


In all these cases, you are not centred in the here and now and you have no power to act. If you are not centred you don’t have access to your feelings, like anger and fear and therefore you cannot make authentic decisions. And trust is a decision!

4. You need Rapid Learning as a resource

The ability to learn rapidly opens the space for you to decide for trust. Rapid Learning means that it has to be ok for you to receive feedback. As long as you take feedback for criticism and you try to avoid it, you have no access to the resource of Rapid Learning. The world is a huge feedback generator. If you enter new territory and trustfully let yourself be guided by feedback in the form of “that works – go on” and “that doesn’t work – try something else”, you can step forward into nearly any new situation.

The main precondition for trust is that you are ready to take radical responsibility for your actions and to not declare yourself as a victim of circumstances.

Trust is an ongoing act of responsible decision. So you can stay centred in the space of not knowing and from there discover new territory step by step, using your fear consciously as a navigation system. And if it gets necessary you use your anger to say STOP and to set boundaries.

Authentic trust is an ability of an initiated responsible adult.