One of the most painful questions I get asked is How do I trust again? The reason it is painful is that it is said after a very horrid experience where betrayal has come from someone who was a close friend, spouse or business associate. In other words, someone who we would trust completely. When trust is broken it can be devastating.
One of our basic needs in our lives is trust. Without trust, we end up walking on eggshells with them or withdrawing from them. Then it spills over into other areas of our lives and we start to question other relationships and we stop being opening and engaging because we don’t know if they are going to be the next person to hurt us.
Trusting again comes in two parts: trusting the person again and being able to trust in general. The first question that should be asked is if you are willing to try to trust the person who hurt you. Here are some indicators if the person is trustworthy:
They express concern over how it impacted you instead of justifying or excusing their behaviour.
They try and figure out the reason behind what they did so that they can implement changes. If they just say sorry it won’t happen again, that is a red flag that they aren’t willing to work on what’s happening and it will most likely happen again.
They bring in someone else who has skills to help build trust (confidant, therapist, pastor) to help fix the hurt. If the two of you could heal it on your own, it would have already been healed.
Over time, there are noticeable changes in the person.
They pass a small test. When you are ready, you will have to be vulnerable in some way for them to be able to show you they are changing.
The second part of trusting is trusting others. This is especially difficult if the answer is no, I can’t trust that person again. This is because when we have been devastated by someone we thought without a doubt was trustworthy the wound flows over to other places and we start looking at friends or family members wondering, if that person is going to be the next person to hurt me. We start to withdraw and stop relying on others because we feel like we have to do it on our own. This hurts us more because it causes us to become isolated, bitter and often lonely.
Trust is a gauge that changes based on the experiences we have with others. It is very individualistic towards each person you come across and it fluctuates up and down. When we meet someone, we start the meter to determine if they are trustworthy. When we’ve been hurt, we are more cautious. To help you remember that everyone is not like the person who hurt you, surround yourself with people who you do trust. Remind yourself that it was an isolated incident with one person. Give yourself time to process the pain.
When you start interacting with new people, give yourself permission to be a little vulnerable. Trust them with a small thing, like going out for coffee. If they show up on time and engage in conversation, then you can give them a little trust that they might show up again. Then as the relationship progresses you test them a little more by sharing something a little personal and see if they can keep it in the vault. If they can’t it will come out as gossip or they will throw it back in your face. Then base how much you trust them on that interaction. Overall don’t push yourself to be completely open with people until you feel that you are ready, and they have proven they can handle it. It is a great idea to have your friends input on situations so that they can provide sound advise for you.
You are worthy of being able to trust again.