As I was writing my post for last week, the word “‘trust” got my attention. I looked this word up in the Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto, a second reference tool I use as a back up to my favorite dictionary by Joseph T. Shipley, who doesn’t always feature the word I’m curious about.
Ayto writes: “Trust was probably borrowed from Old Norse traust ‘help, confidence, firmness.’” What struck me immediately as I read this sentence was the idea that help and confidence are linked together in the very first meaning of the word. We have to be taught how to have confidence. And we thrive when we have help, support and guidance. The theme of confidence comes up often in my therapy sessions, a client beating himself (or herself) up because he does not have this quality in a desired area of life. The distorted belief is that he is just supposed to innately possess this ability, and then shame whispers the lie that somehow he is defective because confidence is not being experienced.
I also like the idea of development. It embraces the concept of starting from a place of not knowing or understanding and moving towards growth through learning, trial and error. Practice. I’ve never had a client say “No” to the question, “Do you have the ability to learn?” We don’t look at a baby who is beginning to crawl and shame him because he isn’t walking yet. There is an understanding that an infant is going through a natural progression of building skill and competence through small shifts and coordination of complex movements that we take for granted as adults because we have long mastered walking.
The challenge is staying in an objective space that quiets shame. We also may have to recognize and unlearn a coping mechanism that is no longer useful to us and is getting in the way of our being effective in the present moment. It’s just not easy being human.
The second sentence in Ayto’s exploration of the word origin of trust says: “This, together with its modern German and Dutch relatives trost and troost ‘consolation,’ goes back to the same prehistoric Germanic base as produced English true and truth.”
Bear with me as I take you on the final leg of this word journey. The on-line Oxford Dictionary defines consolation as “The comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment.” Wow. Reading that line choked me up momentarily because the very definition describes the transition I am going through right now. I have been so consoled by the Universe through experiences in nature, songs and the love of friends and family. I am finding firm ground within myself as my life shifts from being in a partnership to living on my own again. And there is no shame in having to crawl before I learn to walk.