Recently I’ve been spending time thinking about my ability or lack of ability to trust. It is so easy to remember the people who proved untrustworthy, why I didn’t trust in a possibility or even myself. It has been hard to look back at how not trusting people who had worked hard to show me they could be trusted created conflict and even ruined friendships. And how by withholding trust, I have missed out on self-awareness and the “what could have been” feeling.
I’ve also been looking at why I put up walls and chose not to trust; they all fall into the following list in some way:
- fear of repeating history
- being wrong
- being taken advantage of
- looking through a jaded lens
Making trust a focus
So, where to start? Well, it isn’t like I can wave a magic wand, and poof, I can trust again. Nor is everyone trustworthy. So, I first had to acknowledge it will take self-awareness, mindful thinking and challenging my first response. I will need patience and be gentle with myself as this will be a lifelong change. So, I decided to start with baby steps and look for opportunities to practice. To help break it down, I learned about the different kinds of trust and what I could plan to empower myself on each type.
Building trust with others
A lack of trust comes from having our trust broken and being hurt. So, this first step required confidence and faith in myself to know trustworthy behaviours. The challenge is that good intention don’t always work out. So I needed a different filter. So, instead of looking at the result, I focused on intention. Was this person’s intent honest? Did it come from love?
This won’t change overnight! I started with people I knew to be trustworthy and paid attention to how it felt in my body to feel trust. Next, I looked for opportunities to trust people that a break in faith would have little impact, like a business providing a service. I worked with both until I built my confidence. Last, I began to look for opportunities to rebuild trust in relationships that mattered to me.
It has been challenging to trust my intuition; I could lose my way between my initial gut reaction and my overactive monkey mind bringing fear. I’m working to hear my intuition and permit myself to follow it.
Accepting setbacks with empathy
I can also be my worse critic. When something goes wrong, my monkey mind will tell me it won’t ever work, that I’m not strong enough. This has been the most challenging part for me; my intuition and heart speak softly. So to help me lead from my intuition and compassion, I have to be okay with setbacks slips and be ready to celebrate success. So I choose to take baby steps day by day to become more open and trusting.
How To Unlearn Mistrust
1) Believe in me
- There is nothing about me that needs to be fixed. I am a complete, complex being as I am.
- I betray my trust by placing unattainable expectations on myself.
- It won’t always work out, and that doesn’t change my ability to trust.
2) Live in the present
The past is the past, the present is the present, and the future is the future. They don’t overlap; how we have been in the past or someone has been with us is not a reliable predictor of the future. Our experiences continually change our perspectives and values. So if I project the past on the future, I am limiting possibilities and adding unnecessary pressure. The best predictor of how my future will be is how I am now, in the present.
3) Acknowledge when trust is working
So much of our life happens without acknowledging and becomes things we expect. We go to the grocery store and expect the shelves to be filled. Or go to the doctor, expecting them to have the answers. We live unaware of all that it takes to meet our expectations.
This translates to our relationships as well. When we feel disappointed that a need hasn’t been met, we can easily dismiss all the times they have been. One moment wipes out all the times things worked out.
The opportunity is to look at what is working and celebrate it. One example was my husband, who every day does things that over 24 years became the pattern I was used to. Little things, starting the kettle for my tea, helping with something on my to-do list without being asked, or knowing the difference of when I need space or cuddles. Each of these things is an example of love and trust. My brain is slowly rewired by being present to these moments, acknowledging them, and sharing my gratitude.
4) Listen To Your Intuition
We can get wrapped up in the monkey mind and disconnected from our intuition. This can cause us to both trust and mistrust people. So often, I have been trapped in my monkey mind discounting my experience that I look past clear red flags my intuition wants me to see. To rebuild my connection to my intuition, I ask myself these questions:
- How have I seen them treat other people?
- How have I seen them talk about others?
- Do they gossip or share other people’s secrets?
- Have I seen them support and lift another person?
5) Forgiveness and Trust are connected
We waste so much of our energy and time trying to control everything around us. Exhausting ourselves trying to change others to fit our idea of who we want them to be, or managing our thoughts and emotions. The only way to break this cycle is to forgive ourselves for all the times we have taken this path. Forgiveness can only really happen with empathy and compassion. I choose to be compassionate with how I view my past and forgive myself for times I built walls and empathy for the hurt part of me who felt this was her only choice. I compassionately support myself with permission to take down walls I no longer need.
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