If it weren’t for you, your family and co-workers wouldn’t make it through the day. You can’t trust your wife to make the right decisions at the grocery store unless you write a list, and your kid is doomed to fail in school if you don’t yell about homework every night. Your boss is an even bigger idiot, despite all his schooling and years of experience. If everyone did things your way, life would be perfect. You question everyone’s decision-making abilities. You’ve surrounded yourself with idiots and its really starting to get under your skin. Your anger is a result of the basic mistrust you impose on the people with whom you hold close relationships.
Relationships are built on a foundation of trust. A positive relationship is built on the trust that each party is capable of acting in the best interest of themselves and the other party. It feels good when you can accurately predict how people act in a relationship. It’s nice, for example, to think your wife is the best cook on earth and have that belief substantiated when you sit down for dinner each night.
In contrast, you feel uncertain and fearful of potential danger when people act differently than you trusted they would, or if you decide that they are no longer capable of performing up to your expectations. You feel a sense of disappointment, for example, when you think your wife should have cooked a more delicious meal. You may even begin to distrust her motives or capabilities behind her lack of culinary flair, judging her to be mean, lazy or stupid. “She is a bad cook either because is too dumb to follow a recipe or she just wants to see me suffer.”
Anger is often a result of judgment on how other people should act in a relationship – you become angry when people don’t act how you think they should, or when they act in a way that you don’t expect. You cannot trust them to act according to your plan and you mistrust their abilities to think and act independently. You feel an overwhelming need for control because you feel that, without your constant supervision, everyone will make terrible mistakes and the whole thing will come caving in around you. It is difficult for you to relinquish control and accept that other people may be capable when given the opportunity to act independently.
This basic mistrust of others leads you to be hyper-vigilant to how well people perform those rare tasks you allow them control over. Your basic mistrust in their capabilities makes you feel certain they will never accomplish their goals without you. If they fail, you hurl righteous anger towards them instead of finding out how you could have helped change the outcome.
Basic mistrust ruins your relationships in that it puts you in control of things that should be handled by others. The people in your life need to feel like fully-formed human beings, capable of taking care of themselves and making independent decisions.