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Who Do You Trust?

2012 January 25

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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17 Responses
  1. March 6, 2012

    I’ve certainly never been a big person to ‘trust’ others easily.

    I would say that I put my faith in people but when all is said and done, I only ‘trust’ myself as I’m aware that I control my actions and can therefore be the only one I can truly count on.

  2. Jason Homes
    February 29, 2012

    I give my trust to anyone who deserves it and it is up to the person if he/she will value that trust or just take it for granted and betray me.

  3. February 6, 2012

    I have definitely had my trust betrayed by people I really cared for and who I thought would never in a million years hurt me…like when my best friend started dating my ex-boyfriend and didn’t tell me for 3 months. I didn’t want to be with him, he was a friend of mine and they met through me, I wouldn’t have had an issue with them seeing each other but the fact that I worked and hung out with her 5 days a week and had NO clue they were dating (which means she was lying to me on an almost daily basis) was what really hurt me. He eventually told me, after the relationship had ended, and then she proceeded to blame ME for not only their break-up but for being the reason it had to be a secret! She said I would have thrown a fit, I really didn’t care! After a year I chose to forgive her but our friendship was never the same. I learned a lot from that experience though….I feel like I surround myself with people I can really trust now, and I have had no reason to think otherwise. But if someone does hurt my trust then I will try to take it in stride and learn from it, I do believe in forgiveness but I also believe in self-respect.

  4. February 6, 2012

    I think pretty much everyone can identify with the message behind this article. Whether its losing the faith of a parent after behaving badly, or something in a relationship, it’s always terrible to lose someone’s trust. And when someone betrays your trust, it can be heartbreaking. And it’s always hard to start trusting again after a betrayal, so thank you for your tips!

  5. Lisa permalink
    January 31, 2012

    I have been failed by many, back stub by my so called friends and too many broken promises. At this moment trust is the hardest thing in me. But I know I need to trust again or else my life will be in misery. I know no man is an island!
    Lisa recently posted..Apple TV UpdateMy Profile

  6. Rachel Lavern
    January 30, 2012

    I love, love this post Marquita. I still often struggle with trusting others. Betrayal can run so deeply after we have trusted someone close who then fails to satisfy that trust in some fashion. By trusting someone, we open up to be in a vulnerable state.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted..Who is the REAL You?My Profile

  7. January 30, 2012

    Hi Marquita,

    The issue of trust can be quite complex, as you’ve pointed out. I know that when you trust someone completely and they turn on you, it is often difficult to forgive, and perhaps next to impossible to trust that person completely again. Like you say, though, forgiveness is the big thing. It’s important to our health and well-being because being bitter and unforgiving will eat us up. I’ve seen too many people who can’t forgive, and they are miserable inside over it.
    Eldon Beard recently posted..Home Business Radio Network LaunchesMy Profile

  8. January 30, 2012

    I have to admit, I trust easily. I think sometimes I forget that because I’m trustworthy, everyone is like me. I’ve found other people in my life who’re trustworthy and they’ve trusted me quickly. I’ve come to the conclusion that most trustworthy people trust easily. This is my opinion.

    Of course there have been people who’ve taken advantage of my trusting nature, but this was their fault – not mine. I don’t have to change who I am because of them, right? If I did this I would confirm that they have such power on me, they made me change who I am.

    I admit that I’m a bit naive. However, this is a part of me, and over the years I’ve realised I like who I am.
    Anne recently posted..Boost Body Confidence: 4 Easy Ways To Do ItMy Profile

    • January 30, 2012

      Thanks for sharing Anne – love your attitude! I would definitely consider myself naive as well. When I worked in the travel industry my friends all thought I was crazy to travel all over the world alone – but I loved it because I met the most amazing people (can’t tell you how many times I was saved major headaches by kind hearted taxi drivers!) and came to believe that most people are worth our trust and friendship. It’s simply human nature that a minority in pretty much any area of life are only concerned with their own selfish interests, but I think I’d rather be naive than take a chance on missing out on all the good people in the world!

  9. Anna permalink
    January 27, 2012

    Terrific article especially for naive people like me. Honestly, Marquita, sometimes I cannot believe how naive I am. I hope that at least know I will start trusting the appropriate people!
    Anna recently posted..veneers before and afterMy Profile

    • January 27, 2012

      Welcome Anna, and please don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone struggles with the trust issue from time to time … and as far as naive, wow I could tell you some stories! But you know what, I’d rather be naive than live my life as a skeptic :-)

  10. January 26, 2012

    Awesome subject: TRUST I feel like trust is earned. Isn’t that what we are all doing out here? Absolutely. We share our knowledge, we give and go the extra mile. This attracts people who resonate with our personalities. The more we get to know them the more we build trust.

    TRUST in an emotional area is different because it can involve family, spouse, friends. When we trust them and then betrayed, it does take time to rebuild. I’ve worked with people that have these issues and tell them that they have to be patient, find different ways to communicate, or seek help from a professional. That is only if it is not a dangerous situation -that’s another story.

    TRUST is a two way street. In relationships it is give and take. Sometimes a broken trust issue comes up and then we have to reach down into ourselves and ask “why” we cannot trust. Because sometimes it is an issue within ourselves.

    I can write a book here Marty, but I won’t. LOL I loved this blog post and the way you explained this issue. It is an important one that many do not discuss.
    Blessings to you as always,
    PS This one is going on my Fan Page. It is excellent for my readers.
    Donna Merrill recently posted..No Blog Comments? Don’t CryMy Profile

    • January 27, 2012

      Hey Donna, you always contribute so much to the conversation here! You are so right about people being uncomfortable with the subject of trust. Last year I wrote an article on learning to delegate and time and again the trust issue came up as the primary reason people struggle to delegate to others. We don’t even like to admit we have issues with trust …

  11. January 26, 2012

    I agree with you on the trust takes time. It is amazing to me how the people I met two years ago I am just starting to do business with. Just had a call from someone this morning who wants to use my services. We connected about 9 months ago. We are just now talking about business. Not all sales cycles are that long, but it definitely illustrates the point.
    Andy Nathan recently posted..Happy Belated 2nd Blog Birthday!My Profile

  12. January 25, 2012

    Trust is very important when it comes to connection of people. Like what you’ve said, it takes a long period of time to gain trust from a person, but could be taken away in about a single glance once broken. That’s the main reason why everybody needs to value it that much.
    Timothy recently posted..Microwave Accessories – Basic GuideMy Profile

  13. January 25, 2012

    Im not the type of person that gives my trust easily, I always make sure that I know a bit of a person that I will be trusting. I was betrayed once so I dont want to be betrayed again.
    Herbert recently posted..Important Things That Every Article Should HaveMy Profile

  14. January 25, 2012

    Wow Marquita,

    Great post and topic. I am fortunate to have not been betrayed much in my lifetime.

    One time when I was betrayed was actually a very poignant moment in my life. I wont go into the details but basically I was so calm and rational about the whole betrayal that the person who betrayed me was dumbfounded.

    Friends were literally saying….I don’t understand why you are so calm about the situation, I could never react they way you are. For what ever reason while I was going through that period of my life I was just peaceful in the fact that I knew that the person had so much more to learn out of the situation that I did at that time.

    I focused like you said on the lesson learned and not on the horrible feelings inside that could so easily overpower us.

    Dealing with betrayal and calmly doesn’t mean you are a push over…it means you are strong!

    Thanks for reminding me of the lesson I learned.

    Beth :)
    Beth Hewitt recently posted..Facebook Timeline – Are you ready?My Profile

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