Dear Wonderful Readers,
If you’ve been reading my recent pieces, you’ll know that I’m speaking more about authority figures and the influence they can have on what you think, feel, say and do…and the negative impact their influence can have on you, your identity, direction and your relationships.
I’m writing about authority because I’m exploring the mechanisms involved in forming an emotional bond with another person or group that enables trust. The trust I’m focused on is one-way trust that is perceived as mutual trust and the demise of that relationship when the inevitable betrayal occurs (without repair).
What if I told you that you can determine what happened during the very first interactions between two people based on the current state of that relationship?
For example, someone tells me they are being bullied. After confirming they are indeed being bullied and analysed what interactions currently look like between both parties, I can predict what the very first interactions between them looked like with a high degree of accuracy. The reason for this is that human behaviour is predictable in hierarchical relationships, where each party is consistently re-enacting a narcissistic authority-subordinate (parent-child) dynamic.
From the analysis, the individual in a power struggle comes to realise how quickly and easily they trusted someone who was never going to be trustworthy based on expectations they were sold or assumptions made about the other person/group.
The other aspect about trust is that the person you now trust has access to your thoughts, feelings and other information about you that others don’t. Holding onto that trusted relationship might be really important to you that you won’t be able to notice the things you’re doing or thinking to maintain the trusting status, including what you’re allowing into your psyche to influence you that is outside your awareness.
There’s something really profound about trust that makes the impact of betrayal so unpredictable. The way any of us recovers from a betrayal is not straightforward. Some betrayals are traumatic while others were predicted yet painful. Just looking around at different Western societies today, I can certainly see the negative impact of erosion of trust, serial betrayals, negligence and the manifestation of unprocessed trauma in activism, toxic workplace culture and family and community breakdown to name a few.
The idea is then, if you know what your trusting habits are with those who might eventually become someone with authority and influence in your life, there’s a good chance you can use discernment to 1) gauge trustworthiness 2) limit their (negative) influence on you 3) prevent some inevitable betrayals.
What makes someone trustworthy? What are the criteria you use to trust someone AND to sustain that trust in them?
I could flip it and ask you, what it is that you do that makes you trustworthy and enables the other to sustain trust in you?
What are your reactions to betrayal? How have others reacted to you when they felt betrayed by you (or were actually betrayed by you?)
Leave a comment
A heads up to all of my subscribers- I’ve been working on 4 different pieces simultaneously (ridiculous I know) and not getting through any of them at the rate I intended. I have one on exploring victimhood, the third installment of the Unfuck Your Thinking series, a follow up to the Liberation Cycle and one of trust and how to stop people from being the boss of you. I will happily release all of these this month and will schedule another Zoom session for subscribers to the Unfuck Your Thinking series.
Please share this post with your network to inspire a stimulating discussion about all things trust and betrayal!
Thanks for reading, sharing this post, subscribing, supporting me and sharing your ideas,
Nathalie Martinek, PhD
The Narcissism Hacker
this is an easy one.
Do what you promised to do. Always.
Never make a promise that you cannot keep. Ever.
If you cannot commit to making a promise, be honest about why. Perhaps the conditions can be changed, and allow a promise to be agreed to.
If a promise cannot be fulfilled, attempt all possible choices, before apologizing for failure.
A broken promise must be compensated. By whatever means the original promise allows for.
Never let someone down a 2nd time, that breeds mistrust.
Trust and a respect are earned! You lie to me you lose my respect and my trust until you apologize and show proof you are not lying anymore which takes a long time to reestablish that with me!
I do not lie and show up everyday whether I want to be here or not. Truth and consistency.
I learned about the Trust Equation a few years ago, and that helped my thinking around trust. In my first encounter with someone, I tend to look for two components of that equation: openness/vulnerability, and low self-orientation.
Openness/vulnerability can be 'hacked' by narcissists, but it's also possible develop emotional defences against that kind of weaponization. I've found that's very hard for narcissist types to pull off low self-orientation. They either tire of it quickly or it comes across as love-bombing.
Over time, I'm looking for consistency and reliability: do they do what they say, and are they clear about saying 'NO' when they can't do something?
In the case where uneven power dynamics exist, I really like Marisa Franco's concept of "Adjusted Mutuality" -- where the person with more power recognizes it and makes adjustments to accommodate that even if it doesn't benefit them directly. It ties into the lack of self-orientation in the Trust Equation.
Like any abusive/toxic situation, an important defensive skill is to build and recognize your own inner red flags and spidey senses.
I found that people who don’t seek fame are more likely to be trustworthy. Typically, famous “mentors” excel at charming everyone as a way to gain their trust, but then just use them to gain more fame.
This is good stuff. I've been on both sides of this power dynamic (the figure in authority, and the one in the subordinate relationship that's supposed to feel mutual). I try to circle around to the other point of view whenever I can, and remember that there's more to a connection than a boss-employer or landlord-tenant type framework, and these are real, individual relationships I'm building or maintaining.