Now we’re so interdependent, we need to build trust and confidence. On a national or personal level self-centeredness is a source of trouble. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
Are you an island onto yourself? Do you need no one, and interact with no one? Very few people are that independent that they stand truly alone.
The rest of us spend time with others, we need others, we interact with others, we are interdependent. That implies we have relationships with others, and that works best when we are friendly.
Self-centeredness, which the quote warns us away from, is not always the best path forward when dealing with others. How well do your interactions go when you put your needs over those of others?
How do you interactions go when you have the needs of others in mind, or even at the forefront? That is one way to build trust and confidence between people, wouldn’t you say?
Why is trust and confidence important?
Nearly all of us are dependent on others for something in our lives. I don’t grow my own food, I get it from the store. They don’t grow it either, but they get it from someone who does. If I were to treat a shopkeeper poorly, placing my self-centered desires above their wants and needs, I wouldn’t be very welcome next time, would I?
Instead, if I treat them with respect and understand their needs, the relationship will be much smoother. That is done, in my experience, by treating others with kindness. That helps build trust between us, and confidence that we will look out for each-other. That is a great thing to have going in an interdependent world.
When countries are self-centered, concerned more with taking care of their needs than the needs of others, it can lead to a bumpy road for the whole world. International trade is one of the things which could truly transform the world, for better or worse, depending on how much trust and confidence each country can have with their neighbors.
Where can I apply this in my life?
As most of us aren’t all that tightly integrated into the global trade markets or in positions of power on a national level, I think it would be best to stick to what we can do as individuals. While we do have a choice of buying things from one country or another, short of organizing something massive, it’s not going to do much.
Instead, I recommend that we focus on the parts of our lives where we can make a difference. That means we start with the only thing in this world which we can change: ourselves. How well do we interact with others? What do we try to get, and how well do we give? Are we balanced or are we self-centered?
Do we think of ourselves only? Do we think of others and their needs, but only eventually? Or are we able to keep their needs in mind as we try to find a way to satisfy our needs at the same time? Which builds trust and confidence into the relationship, and which destroy it? Which way causes trouble?
Now think about when, where, and with whom you react in each of those different ways. Do you treat family different from strangers? Do you treat the people at the fast food place the same way as you treat the staff at a locally owned restaurant? How does the relationship influence how you treat them and their needs?
Try to find some aspect of your life where you aren’t always as kind to others as you probably should. I am often a bit cranky towards drivers who are less considerate than I usually am. But that’s not a nice way to treat them, is it? Am I being self-centered and not considering their needs? Yep.
With an idea about what you would like to improve in your life, start thinking about what you could do to help better your relationships with others. How can you build interpersonal trust? How can you convince them to have confidence in you and your willingness to help them meet their needs and achieve their objectives?
This, I suppose is where it gets difficult, at least for me. I’m not good at things which include other people. But I try. If I don’t know what they’re interested in achieving, in what they want out of a deal, I just ask them. I let them know what I want, and ask what they want, and we work towards something mutually beneficial.
The question now before us is what are we willing to do? How important is helping others to you? Even if in helping them, you help yourself? Can you even think about putting their needs ahead of yours? Not every time, just when it makes sense. Can you give a little to help them gain a lot?
These are ways to build trust and confidence in your personal interactions. What is it worth to you to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem?