Like you, I have had many life experiences and have learned that it is not a good idea to trust everyone, all the time. I have experienced disappointment in others and a sense of betrayal. At those times, my instinct was to become closed and hold back from further trusting.
However, I have also found that beginning or staying with a closed stance of distrust has not served me. When I am too self-protective and defensive I don’t see the whole picture and there is little chance of resolving issues. I realize that based on my experience and background I interpret how things “should” be. Of course, everyone has had a different upbringing and experiences that color their view of how things “should” be and their interpretation. When we stay stuck in polarization, little opportunity emerges. There are so many issues where we are closed and mistrusting of one another these days and we don’t approach understanding or creating shared solutions that are so needed.
I have come to believe that most people I interact with are doing the best they can based on their experiences and that I can be open and curious to learn more. This does not mean that I hand over my money or trust to anyone. I still do research and pay attention to my intuition and be alert to actions and results.
I have learned that it is useful to start with an Open Stance and to be curious and open to learning. I can always become more cautious and change my behavior as I learn more. Luckily, I have the OASIS Conversation skills to support me in talking to people to share my perspective and to be open to learning theirs. When I take an Open Stance and “assume positive intent”, we most often come to a satisfactory connection and resolution.
However, if I start off a relationship or even a conversation by being closed and untrusting, it is much harder to find common ground and satisfaction. I know that emotions are contagious. My openness, curiosity and compassion allow space for understanding.
Of course, we need to be attentive. I vote for starting with an Open Stance and giving others a chance. It has served me to take this approach. I have saved many relationships and experienced the benefit of connecting with many different perspectives. I have had the gift of seeing many teams and relationships benefit from this embodied mindset.
Experiment with trusting a bit more and starting to be open and curious in a relationship or a conversation rather than starting with a closed-stance.