../ On the value of Trust

A couple weeks ago I saw this tweet by Simon Singh

For those of you that don't know anything about him, this guy is really cool. A PhD in physics, I know him because of his books:

  • Fermat's Last Theorem, which follows the evolution of a particular mathematical problem, from its conception to its final resolution, which happened towards the end of the 1990s by Andrew Wiles, a Fields Medalist.

  • The Code Book, which gives a big overview of how cryptography has been used throughout the history of mankind.

Both books are really good, and you should read them if you haven't.

Now, when I saw this tweet I had already read the italian version of The Code Book, so I didn't really "need" it. Yet, I still thought it would be really cool to have a version signed by him, and so I wrote as he asked.

After a few hours he replied, asking me what in particular I wanted to have signed on the book. I sent him my request, while at the same time asking if I had to make the donation right at that moment, so that he could send the book. He replied saying pretty much "ok, I'll sign you with that, and also, no, don't donate right now, wait until the book arrives, it should do so within the next week".

(Btw, you you can find the sign at the end of this post)

And that's exactly why I am writing this.

When that happened I felt weird, as if something unexpected happened. And well, something unexpected actually did happen: I thought he would ask for a confirmation of the donation before sending the book; instead, he told me to wait and donate only after I had received the book.

So, why did I feel so weird? I think it was because he trusted me. After all, once he sent that book he essentially gave me an opportunity to cheat, that is, I could've easily just kept the book and not make any donation.

This act of being trusted, even if it was for what amounted to a small thing, actually made me feel really good. It made me feel better, because someone put their trust in me. Sometimes valuable was given to me (their trust), and so I had something to protect. Of course, I had no intention of not donating either way, but still, it was the simple fact that he did not ask for a confirmation that made all the difference.

In my journey I've discovered that trust is the fundamental building block of well-being.

We're social animals, we need good relationships to stay healthy, and good relationships are based on trust. This means that we need someone, at least a single person, to trust us, if we want to improve ourselves.

In hindsight, this is also one of the potential benefit of psychotherapy: if your therapist is a good one, and it fits your personality, you might be able to build a trust-based relationship together, which will, in turn, help you to understand and ultimately heal your wounds.

This, of course, also mean that without trust, the therapist-patient relationship will inevitably fail. This is why therapy does not always work. As with every complex process, it requires many ingredients put in a very specific way to work.

During my life I've met people who said "I love you", and also "I don't turst you", and I belived them. That is, I believe you could truly love someone, and yet doubt them. This has caused me tremendous pain, and I believe it is one of the main sources of pain in many relationships.

Yet, now, I look at it in a completely different way. Now I believe that you cannot love someone in a healthy way if there isn't any solid trust underneath the relationship. First, you trust someone as a true friend, and they do the same with you, and only then you can say you truly love them.

If that is not the case, then that love is probably not healthy, or anyways is bound to create difficult situations in the future.

Ultimately, the reality is: either there is a tiny bit of trust, or there isn't any, and when there is nothing to begin with, I'm not really sure how it is possible to build it.

And loyalty is a valued commodity. It can be sold ... not bought, but sold.

Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah.

This is why I strongly believe that the most beautiful words to hear are not "I love you", but rather "I trust you".

And what's even better than hearing "I trust you"? Its witnessing behavior that makes you realize you're being trusted. There's nothing better than that.

If you truly want to help someone, trust them, for trust is the most beautiful and precious gift you can give. But, and this is crucial, before trusting anyone else, trust yourself, your body, your instincts, and in general every part of you.

Let me now show you the actual quote

I like this quote because it is not bound to a particular name, but rather to whoever picks up the book. Someday I might gift this book to someone I care about, or maybe I will lose it, or I'll just keep it for myself. This quote works in all these cases.

Still, Simon was generous to send me a postcard as well with my name, and I really appreciated it. Thank you very much Simon!