Most of us have been deceived, mistreated, or taken advantage of by another person at some point in our lives. Some people have an easy time recovering from these situations and have little difficulty trusting in the future. Some of us, however, find it challenging to trust again. Taken too far, it’s easy to isolate ourselves in an effort to protect ourselves from taking that risk again.
While it can be hazardous to blindly trust everyone, not being able to trust anyone can be equally problematic. We’re social beings, and that requires interacting with others in order to be at our best.
Try these techniques to be able to start the process in beginning to trust again and move forward in your relationships:
- Find the source. No one is born untrusting. Who trusts more than a baby does? Something has happened to cause distrust to become your modus operandi when dealing with others. It may be several situations from your past.
- Examine and question the past. Ask yourself:
- Is the reason for my general distrust rational?
- Did I overreact?
- Was I simply too trusting too soon?
- Is my distrust the result of one bad experience that’s clouding my judgment?
- Was I naïve?
- Keep the past in the past. Harping on old hurts is a sure way to prolong your suffering. Of course, if these issues have never been dealt with that’s why they’re lingering. Get to the root of how the shattering of trust impacted you, then take steps to make sense and meaning out of the experience. Once that’s achieved, it’s time to let go of the old wounds and move forward.
- If you believe someone burned you in the past, what are some ways to avoid a similar situation down the road? Completely withdrawing prevents you from the possibility of being hurt again…it also prevents you from deep, meaningful and intimate relationships in the future. It can eliminate some of your challenges with others, but it also eliminates much of the pleasure to be found in life, too.
- Go slowly. Some people trust way too much or way too little. Often, the best solutions are found near the middle. Until someone has earned your trust, trust them with something small, like showing up at an agreed upon time, or keeping an agreed upon commitment. With more significant issues, wait until you feel safer and more comfortable.
- Question the present. If you find yourself feeling untrusting, ask yourself if it’s justified.
- Do I have a reason not to trust this person? Why do I feel this way?
- Am I unfairly pre-judging this person?
- Am I attempting to trust too much too soon?
- What are the consequences of this person letting me down?
- What are the consequences of not trusting this person?
- Be more trustworthy. In some cases, those that struggle to trust others may not be very trustworthy themselves. It’s common to project our shortcomings on others. If not being trustworthy is an issue for you, strive to be trustworthy and many of your trust issues may disappear.
- When you’re ready to reach out to others, make an effort to start with the most trustworthy people you know and slowly and carefully branch out from there.
- If someone has repeatedly violated your trust, consider why you’re tolerating it. Surround yourself with the people you deserve in your life.
Trust issues can be painful and challenging, but it can be healed. By examining your past objectively, you can start down a path that leads to meaningful and enjoyable relationships.
Start small with the deliberate decision to slowly and carefully trust in others, while staying committed to rebuilding trust in yourself.
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute