If You Want To Forgive, You Must Learn To Trust: Iyanla Vanzant Breaks Down The 4 Essentials Of Trust

January 1, 2016  |  

Isaac Sterling, Hay House Inc.

Isaac Sterling, Hay House Inc.

Happy New Year! I’m sure that you’ve probably made some pretty awesome New Year’s resolutions. Do any of those resolutions include establishing better relationships with relatives or perhaps rebuilding trust with someone you love? If so, delving into Iyanla Vanzant’s latest book, Trust: Mastering the 4 Essential Truths, may be the perfect way to kick off your New Year. I recently had the opportunity to speak with the “Fix My Life” star and she dished on everything from the dangers of not trusting to that controversial Debi Thomas interview.

MN: What is your definition of trust?

Trust is a state of mind and a state of being that allows you to expect the greatest and best possibility as an outcome.

MN: Let’s talk about your new book Trust. What can readers expect to learn?

The four essentials:

1. Trusting yourself
2. Trusting God—your source, the creator
3. Trust others
4. Trusting the process of life.

In each area, we look at why it’s difficult, why it’s required to build trust, the benefits of trust and the challenges when we don’t trust in those four areas.

MN: Specifically, I wanted to ask about trusting in the process of life. What does that mean exactly?

Well, people have a tendency to believe that life isn’t on their side and that they have absolutely no control over what happens and how it happens and why it happens. But the process of life is really a function of how you’re trusting yourself, your creator and other people. How you see life, how you view life and how you participate in life is going to be a reflection of how you trust yourself, how you trust God—depending on whether or not you place your trust in something greater and move divine than your humanness—and your interactions, relationships and ability to trust other people.

MN: What inspired you to tackle trust, of all things, with this new project?

It is really a function of forgiveness. When I wrote Forgiveness, I gave people a very clear outline for how to forgive, why to forgive, the benefits of forgiveness. But what I discovered was that people couldn’t forgive because they didn’t trust. They were really expecting more of the same thing. And I was like, “What a minute, you’re not going to find the benefits of forgiveness until you learn to trust.”

MN: Do you find that the genders struggle with trust issues in different ways?

No, it’s not gender-specific. I really do believe that it’s a human issue and not a gender issue. If you don’t trust yourself, it really doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, black or white. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t have trust in your creator, your source, a divine being—whatever you call it, just something greater than you. Some people go, “Well, I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in humanity.” Well, do you trust that?

MN: How do you recommend giving someone a chance after they’ve broken the bond of trust?

Well, a liar is going to lie, and a thief is going to steal. A cheater is going to cheat. You have to balance trust with wisdom and boundaries. You can trust a liar, you just don’t trust what they’re saying when they say it without some kind of evidence that what they’re saying to you is actually accurate and valid. We get in trouble because after people have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, we try to trust them again wanting them to be who we think they are as opposed to accepting what they’ve demonstrated themselves to be. Now, does that mean that people cannot and do not change? Absolutely not. People can change, but you have to find and secure evidence of the change before you alter your experience and awareness of them.


MN: You once said, “You never get what you ask for, you get what you expect” and “when someone betrays our trust, it reveals the high price paid for such a deep disconnection.” It kind of blew my mind, but I wanted to ask you to clarify a little bit about what that means.

Trust is a state of mind, and the mind is very powerful. 99.9 percent of the time, we say we trust, but we’re looking out of the corner of our eye expecting more of what we already have. You may be saying “I trust you,” but you’re expecting to be violated, rejected, abandoned, betrayed again, and that’s what you get. The mind is very powerful; it doesn’t matter what your words are. It doesn’t matter what you’re hoping for. One element of expectation supersedes 25 elements of hope or 25 grains of hope. So if you’re expecting to be betrayed, rejected, abandoned, you’re going to get it.

MN: You do a lot of great work, but, of course, good work doesn’t come without criticism. Recently, people had some things to say about your Debi Thomas “Fix My Life” sessions. Some said that you were shaming her. Did you hear any of that feedback?

Oh absolutely. Here’s what I do know, people only recognize outside what they do inside. What I do within myself is the filter through which I see the world. Debi Thomas came to me; I did not go to her. Debi Thomas was very clear about what she wanted to talk about in her story. Debi Thomas also had a vision and an intention for what her work would be. Every guest has a vision and an intention. Now, when we arrived, that looked very different for her, so my heart and mind are very clear because I asked her what she wanted to fix, she told me and we gave her the tools to fix it. The fact that she rejected it, that’s not on me, that’s on her.

MN: And finally, are you still working with police brutality victims? Do you have any words for the black community during these difficult times?

Whenever I’m asked to do community work, I show up. You know, whether it’s Baltimore or Ferguson, or wherever I’m asked to work with the community, I do that—including the mental health community through which I was challenged with the Debi Thomas story. People were saying that I was insensitive to that, which is absolutely not true. So yes, I do show up in Baltimore, in Ferguson, in the mental health community, for domestic abuse, for children of incarcerated parents, for teenage mothers, for single mothers, in shelters. All of those places, I show up. Just because the camera isn’t there doesn’t mean I don’t do it, which is why criticism doesn’t bother me.

During these trying times that we’re facing, I would remind people to focus on the road. If you focus on the worst possible outcome, that’s an expectation, and that’s what you’re going to get. So in addition to continuing to do the work we have to do to grow our communities, I’d say the same thing I said in Ferguson: “What is the ask?” What are we expecting and are we bringing our best individual selves to the table? As we get better as individuals, as our ask becomes clearer and our expectations become higher, things will change.

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