As I personally reflect on these questions, I'm reminded of both the importance and complexity of trust in life, work and relationships. Trust is one of the most critical elements of healthy relationships, families, teams, organizations and communities. However, you may have an odd or disempowered relationship to trust—you've been taught that people must earn your trust, when in fact, it's something you grant to others.
I learned early in life that it wasn't always safe to trust people—my folks split up when I was 3 years old. I went to tough schools and found myself in some difficult situations, and part of my "street-smart survival kit" was to be very suspicious of just about everyone I came into contact with. While this did have its benefits (to a certain degree) as a child and adolescent (at least in terms of survival), as I got older, I noticed my resistance to trusting others created some real issues in my life and my relationships.
No matter how many tests I put people through in order to have them earn my trust, at the end of that whole process, it was ultimately up to me to grant them my trust (or not), and then to continue to trust them (or not).
Why you should open up and trust