Trust is one of the strongest emotions we feel as humans and yet the most fragile and easily broken.
The unexpectedness, shock, and betrayal of having our trust broken are some of the most difficult feelings to deal with, and disrupt our natural ability to trust as humans.
It often takes just one person out of the many trustworthy people in our lives to result in us developing trust issues. This then carries on to the rest of our relationships unless addressed. To trust again, we first need to heal from what broke us in the first place.
Acknowledge The Cause
We all develop trust issues at different stages in our lives and for different reasons. For some of us, it could have been as infants if we learned we couldn’t trust our parents or any other adults. For others, it could have been much later in life if cheated on by a partner or even betrayed by a friend. Whatever the cause, they are all equally traumatic and make it challenging to trust again.
Some of us may believe that our reasons for no longer trusting are silly, but they’re all valid. For example, a friend tells you she’s too sick to hang out, but you later learn she was out with another group of friends. This may seem trivial when thinking back at it, but it is enough to cause trust issues for many of us.
By not only exploring the root of our trust issues but also allowing ourselves to validate past experiences, we can stop self-blaming and begin to move forward. We can’t heal from something we don’t acknowledge.
Work to Maintain Relationships
Once we allow ourselves to validate our experiences and heal from them, we can then work on current or future relationships.
If you’ve had your trust broken multiple times, you are probably extremely careful and hyper-observant of everyone’s actions. It’s great to pay attention to any red flags, but we have to learn to differentiate those from honest mistakes people make.
For example, circling back to the friend scenario, if your friend was honest about being sick and couldn’t hang out, it shouldn’t be something to worry about. But, if you start thinking things like “How about if they don’t like me and are happy about not hanging out?” then you should start reevaluating your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes, these feelings are enough for those with trust issues to start distancing themselves so they can sabotage relationships before others do. In their mind, it is inevitable that it will happen anyway, so they might just get it over with.
With trust issues, we are bound to be doubtful of all relationships and it can be difficult to not cut everyone off. But, to trust again, we have to face those fears and work on maintaining our relationships rather than sabotaging them. So, instead of distancing yourself from your friend, reschedule with them and work on maintaining that friendship for as long as you can. You’ll find that over time, it will be easier to allow people to stay in your life.
You Don’t Have to Trust Everyone for The Same Things
The lack of ability to differentiate between red flags and honest mistakes can be very confusing and challenging. One thing that can help is understanding that we don’t have to trust everyone for the same things.
For example, the trust you put in your family is different from the type of trust you have in a coworker. You expect a lot more from a family member than someone you work with. So, if you needed a place to stay, for example, and a coworker said no, you wouldn’t be as upset as if a family member did. Or even if you were equally upset about both, it doesn’t mean you can’t trust your coworker anymore. It just means you can’t rely on them for certain things.
Understanding this and other’s boundaries can help maintain that relationship with your coworker and not feel hurt about it. Just because you know someone can’t be trusted when it comes to certain things, doesn’t mean you can’t have a trustworthy relationship with them. It’s not all black and white. There are gray areas when it comes to what trust is.
Trust Takes Time
Building trust in others takes time. Rebuilding anything will take time, but the important thing is to actively work towards it. Exploring why we have trust issues can be a difficult first step, but it’s the foundation to work towards the next steps.
It can be tempting to continue to suppress our feelings and past experiences. But, the sooner we address it all, the better our chances are at having happy healthy relationships.
Our trust issues may make us believe that we’re content with being alone forever, or that we don’t need anyone for anything, but that’s most likely not how we really feel. It’s simply our way of protecting ourselves. And living with our guards up all the time is a very exhausting way to live.
- When did your trust issues begin? Journal about it and reflect.
- Think back on a time you distanced yourself from someone out of fear of being betrayed. What could you have done instead?