We all know how important trust is in developing great relationships. We also know that once trust is violated, it is extremely hard to get it back. No one recognizes the value of trust more than legendary life coach and New York Times best-selling author Iyanla Vanzant, who explores this subject in her new book Trust: Mastering the 4 Essential Trusts: Trust in God, Trust in Yourself, Trust in Others, Trust in Life (avail. Dec. 8).
I got the chance to have a quick chat with Vanzant about the project, and why she chose this topic. Read on for some highlights from my conversation with her, which I found really enlightening.
Iyanla Vanzant: I did a book about two years ago on forgiveness, and what I discovered was many people couldn’t forgive because they didn’t trust. I realized that we needed to take a look at why people have such a hard time trusting themselves, other people, the process of life – so that is how I got to that.
eH: Do you think a lack of trust stems from foundational issues – like not being able to trust a parent in the home, and from very early experiences?
Iyanla: We learn the process of trust beginning in the womb. So whatever you marinated in, which really means the emotional and psychological development of your mother, that is what you bring to life. Then you add to that the condition of your care. Trust is a very delicate thing. Love is like Teflon, and trust is like fine china. When trust is broken, it is hard to repair and it gets broken very easily in our childhood. It could just be that your mother was in the bathroom and you were crying for a bottle and you cried for ten minutes…that you worried your needs weren’t going to be met.
The first thing to break down is trust in your environment. The next thing to break down is trust in yourself. Children, as you know, are very egocentric and they tend to believe that anything that goes wrong in their environment is their fault. So when there is a breakdown in the environment around trust, they make it about them. We make it about us. Once those things break down, they are difficult to repair.
You will repeat the same errors over and over just to prove you are right about what you believe.
eH: That is so true. So what would you say to the person who struggles with these types of issues?
Iyanla: You have to master the four essentials. First, you have got to learn to trust yourself, but that level of trust hinges on your trust of God or supreme being or whatever you call it, because when you understand the nature of God, you understand who you are. When you understand who you are, through your connection to the creator, you understand that you are worthy of your own trust.
When you trust yourself in God, and you understand the nature of God, then you get to understand other people. Then you learn that no matter what anyone else does, you will be ok. People get so stuck in their past heartbreaks that they forget they are still alive. Did it kill you!?
eH: Yes! Holding onto the pain … they get stuck there.
Iyanla: We all get stuck. You can go to a party and there are 50 things on the buffet table and 90% of the time, this is how you will report the party: “It was a great party, but the beans were salty!” The human mind, the deceptive intelligence, has a tendency to hook into that which is most undesirable which gives it the fuel it needs to motivate you to avoid pain and seek pleasure. It’s a very covert and complex process.
eH: I agree, but I just don’t know why we do this. Is it ego?
Iyanla: It’s the ego, it’s the deceptive intelligence, that allows you to believe this because the mind, the human body, will seek pleasure and escape pain. So the ego will tell you if it happened, it will continue to happen. We will focus on the most negative thing because we want to avoid that, not understanding that what you focus on grows. You have one heartbreak, with one person out of 6 billion, and you will focus on that heartbreak and forget that this guy was great, or this woman was great for 15 years. But when they left you, that is where you stay focused! Your ego is motivating you to avoid pain and increase pleasure.
eH: What is the best way to surpass this and the ego?
Iyanla: What I say in this book is that you first have to understand God, and the nature of God. It’s hard for us to trust God because we don’t understand the nature of God and we don’t have a relationship with God. We have an intellectual concept of who or what God is, and that is not going to sustain you or help you build trust.
eH: Ok, so a way to connect to source is … spiritual practice like meditation?
Iyanla: Absolutely. How do you build a relationship with another person? You spend time. You have communication. Whether you call it prayer or meditation, you have to still the ego and the mind long enough to drop into the place where source resides, which is the spirit. I believe that one of the reasons we have such a trust crisis in this world is because we are in spiritual crisis. We will work, we will diet, we will exercise, but we will not pray and meditate.
eH: So trusting in life, how is this different?
Iyanla: Because life is a process that is set up and designed to give you the lessons you need to deepen your spiritual resolve. Trusting the process, you can trust God, but you have to trust God’s wisdom and timing. We have experiences in life that take us to a place where we deepen and develop in trust – those are the things that usually send us screaming from the room!
There are so many more amazing insights and learnings from her book, Trust: Mastering the 4 Essential Trusts: Trust in God, Trust in Yourself, Trust in Others, Trust in Life, we can’t recommend it enough.