Who Do You Trust?
Trust is awfully important, and no where near as easy as it sounds.
How do you know when you really trust someone? What if they do something to lose your trust, will you give them the opportunity to re-earn it? Does a betrayal cause you to distrust everyone? What if you’ve lost someone’s trust, how will you earn their trust again?
When we think about trusting, we tend to think of it in terms of all or nothing. Either we trust someone or we don’t. We trust ourselves or we don’t, as though trust were a switch we can turn on or off. In truth there are varying degrees of trust depending upon the circumstances and what is at stake and whether we’re talking personal or professional relationships.
For example there are a lot of people I like, but when it comes to someone I trust completely, implicitly and without question, my list of criteria might look something like this:
- Must be able to keep any confidence, for as long as is required.
- Must be someone I can count on consistently, not just when it’s convenient.
- Must love me despite my many flaws.
- Must forgive me when I act like a jerk.
It’s natural to extend a certain level of trust in a new relationship as an offering of kindness and connection and then, when all goes well, developing a higher level trust as the relationship evolves over time.
Trust takes years to develop and only a moment to destroy.
As a trusting person you put your heart and soul out on the table for everyone to see. You give of yourself and disclose things about you that are personal and sometimes private. You do so with open arms hoping that others will take your rare gifts and use them to create good … and then the unthinkable happens, you’re blindsided by a betrayal of your trust.
Unfortunately betrayal happens to everyone at some point in our lives. Betrayal can occur with a spouse, a family member, a best friend or a co-worker. Most people who experience having their trust betrayed see the signs, but choose to continue to give that person the benefit of the doubt. The reality is that people are complex and come with previous hurts, fears or losses and sometimes they will fail you.
Learning to trust again when we have been disappointed, betrayed, or somehow let down by people or circumstances in our lives can be one of the most difficult things we ever have to do, but it is vital for our happiness and well being. When we are afraid to trust, we close ourselves off from life in an attempt to protect ourselves from further pain, and in doing so, we also close ourselves off from all the wonderful things that life has to offer.
The following steps can help you begin to restore trust:
- Self-blame is a natural tendency so first you must forgive yourself and reinforce trust in your judgment.
- Choose to see the lesson(s) that can be learned from the experience.
- Talk openly and honestly about the pain you experienced.
- Given the opportunity, ask the person why they betrayed your trust.
- Express your intentions to trust again.
- Start with something small and less significant.
- Be a person worthy of trust.
- Establish and communicate the ramifications of future betrayal.
When forgiveness is not an option.
Sometimes a betrayal is so serious or damaging we cannot find a way to forgive.
Many people mistakenly equate forgiveness with re-establishing trust. Forgiveness is first and foremost for you, the forgiver. It is about releasing you from something that, if you let it, will eat you alive; that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly.
Forgiving someone who has betrayed or deeply hurt you is about letting go of that which holds you back, and should never be contingent upon the other person once again earning your trust … because the truth is they may never change their ways or even be willing to make amends. Forgiving and re-establishing trust are not the same.
Learning to trust again – or perhaps for the first time in a conscious way – can be scary, but the rewards are enormous. Start taking small steps to build your own trust in yourself, and gradually, that ability to trust will flow into every area of your life in a smart, aware, and loving way.
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