When it comes to Emotional Identity, trust concerns our instinctive feelings about how safe or dangerous we, other people and the wider world are likely to be. We can have greater or lesser degrees of trust in our capacity to survive challenges. Theoretically we know that a speech, a performance review, a romantic rejection or a bout of financial trouble won’t necessarily be life-threatening, but internally they may feel like an enormous danger.
A degree of stress is often called for, but its overall level is very individual. How close are we, at any time, to catastrophe? Around others, how much do we suspect that people are, at heart, out to get us? Are strangers generally nice or likely to be quite nasty? Do we generally imagine new acquaintances will like us or wound us? How fragile are others? If we are a touch assertive, will others collapse and break, or remain more or less fine?
Around love, degrees of trust determine our anxiety about the future with our partner. How tightly do we need to cling to them? If they go off us for a bit, will they return? How much do we imagine we would suffer if they don’t come back? How ‘controlling’ do we need to be? Does such controlling behaviour stem from a basic lack of trust in the other person? How much of a risk can we take? Can we approach an interesting-looking stranger? Can we make the first move around a kiss or sex?
At work, how resilient are we? Failure isn’t appealing, but does one see the world as a forgiving place in which it is normal to get second and third chances? Do we feel the world is big enough, and reasonable enough, for us to have a legitimate shot at doing our own thing, or must we be subservient, meek serfs