Push and Pull of Trust and Distrust

“Push and Pull of Trust and Distrust” by Joan Y. Edwards

Trust and distrust cause a big push and pull in relationships. Google says that trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. In your writing, you may be able to use the trust/distrust tendencies of human nature to add a little intrigue and interest in a character or situation in your story. Trust creates limitless possibilities with relationships with yourself, significant others (family, friends, and co-workers). It gives you confidence and helps you remain calm. On the other hand, distrust rips you apart emotionally. Your confidence disappears. Your hope for the future is tainted by worry and unrest.

Are you paranoid about trusting others? What causes you to distrust others?

If your caregivers were not dependable when you were a baby or a young child, you may have more problems trusting people than a child whose parents were dependable and trustworthy. I think sometimes you don’t trust yourself and therefore you don’t trust others in the same area. If you can’t trust yourself to do what you say you are going to do, you may not trust anyone else to do what they say they are going to do. If you lie all the time, you might have a hard time believing that others are telling the truth.

You can answer these first six questions about yourself to see if there are things you might want to work on improving your trust in yourself and others. Or ask these questions about one of the characters you are using in a story. I reworded Martha Beck’s questions from her Huffington Post article to make it personal.

If your answer is “Yes” to the following questions, then you probably trust yourself

1. Do you show up on time?

2 Do you do things when you say you’re going to do them?

3. When you describe an event, it is correct? Does it match the information others give about it?

If your answer is “YES” to the following questions, you probably don’t trust yourself in this area.

4. Do you lie to people or assume that others will help you deceive another person?

5. Do you ever withhold information to make things go more smoothly or to avoid conflict and confrontation?

6. Do you ever lie, cheat, be unkind or do other things that you would condemn another person for doing the same thing?

A new experience that causes you to distrust a significant person in your life can rip you apart emotionally. It causes pain. The closer the person is to you and the more you trusted them before this event, the bigger the rip is to your heart.

Brandon Smith shared signs that you can’t trust your co-workers in an article on his blog:  http://theworkplacetherapist.com/signs-you-cant-trust-your-co-workers/. I reworded them here. You can assign these traits to the antagonist or villain in your story and create tension galore for your main character. It could rip him apart.

Signs of Distrust in a Co-Worker

  • Is dishonest and never truthful.
  • Does not always do what he says he will do
  • Usually doesn’t carry out the responsibilities of his job.
  • Makes it harder for you to succeed by keeping vital information from you
  • Gets irritable when you or others get in his workspace.
  • Sees you as a threat to his job.
  • Acts jealous of you and your job in the company
  • Wants your job or wants to replace you with one of his favorite employees.
  • Deliberately destroys, damages, or obstructs your success

Signs of Distrust in the Workplace

  • Everyone secures their desks and offices with locks or security systems.
  • If you leave food in the break room area, it is never there when you go back for it.
  • Fellow employees gossip constantly about you and other employees.
  • Criticism is widespread at work. No one receives praise for doing a good work or showing outstanding effort.
  • An employee who is having a hard time with his job never receive help or extra training to complete a project.
  • Workers set out to beat other employees in any manner possible, even if it is unethical, illegal, or cruel.
  • Your boss gives special favors to employees he likes.
  • You do not know your job responsibilities as they keep changing according to the whim of your boss.
  • Your boss is never pleased with any part of your performance even when you complete all the work as outlined in your contract successfully and even do extra things beyond the call of duty that help your workplace.
  • (I added this one) Your boss takes credit for your ideas.

Is your relationship with your partner defined by honesty and dependability—or suspicion and betrayal? To help you decide, use the quiz at the University of California, Berkeley Greater Good Berkeley: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/take_quiz/5


  1. Brandon Smith. “Signs You Can’t Trust Your Co-Workers:” http://theworkplacetherapist.com/signs-you-cant-trust-your-co-workers/.
  2. Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. “Paranoia:” http://www.minddisorders.com/Ob-Ps/Paranoia.html
  3. Greater Good Berkeley.Edu. University of California, Berkeley.  “Relationship Trust Quiz.” http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/take_quiz/5
  4. Kendra Cherry. “Trust Versus Mistrust:” http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/trust-versus-mistrust.htm
  5. Martha Beck. Huffington Post. “Simple Test Reveals If Someone Is Trustworthy:” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/16/trust-issues-dependable-relationships_n_4098395.html

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope I have helped you discover many reasons to trust yourself and many ways to show the villains in your stories can’t be trusted. How do you decide whether to trust someone? Please tell me in a comment.

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2014-2019 Joan Y. Edwards
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6 thoughts on “Push and Pull of Trust and Distrust”

  1. Hi Joan,
    Great ways for us to evaluate ourselves. Thank you. I have to say that #5 caught my attention. Sometimes, I’m entrusted with information from a family member that I don’t share with other family members when asked about it. If I tell, I’m not trustworthy. If I don’t tell, the person asking may get mad with me. Not a great situation to be in. Family relationships can be very complicated!

    1. Dear Linda,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you believe these are great ways to evaluate yourself.. Question #5 is one my family sometimes asked us to do.

      You are right. This particular situation put you in a dilemma. It was a bad situation no matter which way you chose to do it. That’s a great situation for a character to be in, but we don’t especially enjoy them ourselves, right?

      I find you very trustworthy and I’ve known you a very long time now…since 2005.

      Celebrate you
      Never Give Up
      Joan. .

  2. Joan,
    You always make us think. But better yet, these “signs” could be a good reference for building a not-so-nice character. I’m printing them for future reference.

    1. Dear Sandra,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad I make you think. It’s a worthwhile occupation. You are right. The distrust descriptions would make a really good despicable character to hate. It would make us want every so much for the protagonist good guy to win over him by leaps and bounds.

      Celebrate you
      Never Give Up

  3. Thanks for this piece about trust, Joan. I also like Martha Beck. She’s written great self-help/psychology books and is on Oprah’s E newsletters sometimes.

    I think we can also look at how much we trust ourselves. That is important, since we must trust our ideas and judgments , our values, etc. This helps me get through the day. I ask myself how I am reacting to situations, what is important to me and what I value. Aristotle said, “Know thyself.” What about trust thyself?

    Have a beautiful weekend. Happy Father’s Day to Dad’s and Grandpas!


    1. Dear Janis,
      Thank you for writing. You’re very welcome for this article about trust. I’m glad you like Martha Beck. I like your comparison to Aristotle and changing his quote to “Trust Thyself.” Awesome idea.

      Happy Father’s Day to Richard and your son!

      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up

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