We have all been hurt and experienced pain at some point in our lives. That pain compromises our trust and can transform our perspective on life. It is natural psychologically to defend ourselves when we feel vulnerability would be dangerous, but trust is as much a blessing for our own mental health as it is a gift for those we chose to trust. When trauma or pain takes away our ability to trust others, this means it is continually hurting us and depriving us of deep, meaningful bonds.
Our spiritual heart-felt side cannot thrive if we keep ourselves walled up. While we must be careful with whom we decide to open up with, it is not healthy to withdraw trust from everyone. Every relationship whether intimate, professional or family based requires a certain level of trust.
What is Trust
Trust refers to our ability to confidently believe that someone else’s intentions are good towards us. It is our ability to predict someone’s behavior and how they will respond to situations. Trust is just as much logical and based on evidence as it is emotional and instinctual. We FEEL trust, but we also calculate it.
Much of our social interactions are based on a give and take system, trust is a crucial part of this. When we marry someone and choose to trust them with our well-being, we have certain expectations of what they will give to the relationship as well as what we will give. Even if you consider the act of buying a car, it is natural to have more trust in a dealer selling you a certified used car with a warranty versus someone off the street that might give you a better deal but no warranty.
It comes down to this. If you believe someone will do right by you even in a difficult situation, you have trust in them. If you are unsure if someone will do right by you, then you don’t trust them.
It takes time to develop trust in someone, this is typically not an overnight process although in some social situations such as with a religious leader, we tend to expect trustworthiness out of them. As we have more social interactions and experiences together we start to notice their trends which either indicate they are dependable or not trustworthy.
In some situations, the other person is asked to sacrifice something such as money or time to meet our needs, those situations draw us closer to them and allow us to let our guards down. Although it is inevitable we will have to take a leap of faith at some point to develop deep and significant trust.
Trust in Relationships
The depth of our trust we develop in a relationship is so important as it relates to the extent we commit ourselves and invest. Considering the give and take social system, we give a lot more of ourselves to someone when we trust them and in return, we hope to receive that back. Insecurity about whether someone will act in our better interest causes us to withdraw emotionally, spiritually and often physically from that person. We will create a psychological distance from the other person as a means of defense.
Think of it like building a castle around our heart, we allow them to roam outside of our castle, but we won’t let down the drawbridge so easily. It is impossible to be close to someone if we won’t let them inside. Naturally, the person roaming the castle will grow tired and eventually withdraw, thus ending the relationship. This can relate to business partnerships and friendships just as much as intimate relationships.
Can You Trust Again?
Even if you have been badly hurt and betrayed, perhaps in a very traumatic situation, you can learn to trust people again. You have the power to decide if you will let their actions continue to hurt you and impact your ability to trust others or if you will make the choice to move forward, heal and work on trusting others.
4 Steps Towards Learning to Trust Again
1. Trust yourself. You cannot expect to trust others if you don’t trust yourself. Do not blame yourself for the past pain that robbed you of trust. Remember you are making the choice to stop giving power to that pain. Have faith in your judgment and don’t doubt yourself based upon past experiences.
2. Forgiveness. This doesn’t mean you are forgetting or condoning what the other person did, but you are choosing to be the better person and extend forgiveness to them as well as yourself. You are refusing to let their bad choices dictate your future. Every major religion in the world promotes forgiveness and mercy. Not just as an act of charity, but as a means of healing your own heart.
…you do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness…
3. Stop victimizing yourself. We always have a choice when we are hurt, to remain the victim or to become stronger. No matter how harsh of a pain you endured, it is your choice to use it as a crutch and stay withdrawn OR take the steps forward toward healing. I have often heard the expression that which does not kill you only makes you stronger, it is true if you allow it to be. Stop being the victim, start being the victor. No one will hand you the ability to trust again, you must work toward it.
4. Accept vulnerability. Trust requires being vulnerable, which yes that means you must accept the risk you might get hurt. Every time we trust someone it is a careful risk calculation. Without the occasional leaps of faith, you will never know the extent of trust and love you can experience.
Trust is a critical component of our mental well-being, if we cannot trust anyone else then we lack trust in our own judgment. To achieve our happiest and most positive state of mind, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. That doesn’t mean we never have our guards up, of course, we must be mindful of who has access to our heart and the ability to harm us. Trust is a careful calculation of risk and reward. You have the ability to learn how to trust again, I did.
Photo by DiddyOh