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 become socially isolated.
While it can be hazardous to blindly trust everyone, not being able to trust anyone can be equally problematic. Humans are social creatures, and that requires interacting with others in order to be at our best.
Try these techniques to be able 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. Did your ex cheat on you 5 years ago? That’s one person, a single instance, and 5 years ago. Let go and move on.
- Learn. If you believe someone burned you in the past, what are some ways to avoid a similar situation down the road? Completely withdrawing is an effective, but excessive, solution. 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 to meet you at the movies and 7:00 PM, but avoid trusting them to hold $1,000 for you for a few days.
- Beyond a certain point, allow people to earn your trust. Avoid sharing your deepest darkest secrets right away. Trusting and being silly don’t have to go hand-in-hand.
- 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 many cases, those that struggle to trust others aren’t very trustworthy themselves. A thief expects other people to steal. Cheaters expect others to cheat. It’s common to project our shortcomings on others. Strive to be trustworthy and many of your trust issues may disappear.
- Reconnect. When you’re ready to reach out to others, make an effort to start with the most trustworthy people you know and branch out from there.
- If someone has repeatedly violated your trust, consider removing them from your life. This isn’t always possible, but sometimes it is. Surround yourself with the people that you deserve in your life.
Trust issues can be painful and challenging, but choosing to be alone is also painful and challenging. By examining your past objectively, you can start down a path that leads to meaningful and enjoyable relationships.
Taking small steps toward reconnecting with others can have a profound effect on your life.