Trust, faith, belief, expectation are all different words for the same concept.
Some basic things we find easy to trust in:
- The sun will come up tomorrow
- The air we breathe will help keep us alive
- Monday never fails to roll around right after the weekend.
These things we trust in. They’re easy to trust in because they’re unlikely to ever change.
But maintaining trust in people is somewhat trickier because people’s behaviors varied and unpredictable. Sometimes it takes us by surprise when people don’t do what we expect.
When you lack trust, you aren’t actually lacking anything. Your ability to have faith is still alive and well, but you’re placing your faith in the possibility of a negative outcome.
Distrust = pain’s stubborn swan song
It’s all too easy to start distrusting others based on a few bad experiences in the past.
Distrust is akin to saying: “I know what you’re going to do. You’re going to let me down. I’m ready and primed for disaster”. This isn’t exactly the type of attitude that your new partner or team member will want to deal with. That’s when distrust is a problem and may be holding you back from building something wonderful with another person.
When we allow suspicion to take the place of hope in any kind of relationship, we are already resigned to its failure. But make no mistake. That failure will be on you, not the person on the receiving end of your suspicion.
“But I’ve been burned in the past. Why would I willingly be a doormat and make the same mistakes all over again, like some naïve fool?”
No-one is suggesting that you follow the same path as before, without learning any lessons. But a distrust of people is never that lesson. The wisdom comes in the form of handling the situation better — reacting better — rather than shutting people out because you think you have a sixth sense for a bastard now.
More often than not, we distrust people who have never done anything to warrant our suspicion. It’s the lingering legacy of a previous relationship gone-bad. So you were fired and now you have trouble trusting your new boss. You were cheated on, so the idea of committing to someone else seems terrifying and ill-fated. Usually distrust can be traced back to a pretty tough experience, so naturally we have a tendency to hold on to that pain moving forward. Think of it like a milder form of post traumatic stress disorder. You might anticipate the same awful experiences repeating over and over again. It’s hard letting go of the past and keep a clear head, free of cynicism and fear. But that’s exactly what you need to do, if you’re going to lead a happier life. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t somewhat bothered by your inability to trust again.
Newsflash: There is nothing naïve about trust
There is nothing virginal or innocent about putting trust in people. We tend to think this because when we were younger, more naïve and less bruised by the world, we did indeed trust people a hell of a lot more. So we mistakenly believe that growing older and wiser means becoming more suspicious and cynical. This is a fallacy. True wisdom and peace of mine comes from accepting that people may not do what you expect them to — but that you’ll survive regardless.
Faith in the negative has a tendency to perpetuate negative outcomes. Delusions, paranoia, resentment and rage can take over you may find yourself exploding in self-righteousness at someone’s tiniest misstep. When you distrust someone, the chances are pretty slim that you’ll be able to respond rationally if something bad does happen (and it might). Your eyes aren’t open to reality. They’re fixed firmly on the future tragedy playing out in your head. You’ll be reacting to a dramatization of your own creation, rather than the situation in front you.
Ironically, as a person with trust issues, we tend to place an awful lot of trust in our own predictions for the future. We place blind faith in the idea that history will repeat itself and that we attract a certain type of person who is bound to follow the same agonizing pattern of abuse or mistreatment.
How to express trust issues
> Do express your trust issues in a rational way, if you feel it will help someone understand your doubts and concerns. If faith has been broken through direct actions by that person, then vocalizing that might be justified and helpful.
> Don’t use distrust as a manipulation tool — to guilt or goad someone into changing, or to excuse your own unreasonable behavior. It’s easy to habitually point to the past, to explain away our own bad tempers, imperfections or hostility. Explain the reasons behind your distrust, without appointing blame. Distrust is a choice. So own it and don’t expect others to necessarily change because of it.
Those who have deservedly lost your trust will either: understand the issue you’re having and work hard to earn your trust back — or — show no signs of being willing or able to change for you. If you are seeing the latter, then it might be time to accept that this is not a match that’s going to work for you any more. No amount of guilt-tripping and cries of “I just don’t trust you”, is going to fix things. If however, the person is truly trying to make amends and remedy the situation, you’ve got to give them a fair shot — and that means letting go of the past. A well-intentioned person will want your trust and won’t be afraid to earn it back, but they’ll only do so if they see a realistic chance of being able to redeem themselves. It’s up to you to decide whether you are truly willing to let them.
Sometimes trust can never be regained. A person may have hurt you beyond repair — and this isn’t immediately clear. No matter how hard you try to work through your pain, you simply you cannot look that person in the eye with a clear head. In these unfortunate situations, there might be little option but to throw in the towel and move on. But the most important thing to do after that is wipe your eyes, open them wide and leave those doubts and resentments where they belong — in the past! Don’t pack them in your suitcase and take them with you to your next relationship.
Distrust is a belief that someone or something is plotting to hurt or sabotage you. The disconcerting truth is that often the most dangerous saboteur to watch out for is much closer to home (I’m looking at you!).
Building trust starts with clearing your head of resentment and fear — having faith in the idea that no-one is out to hurt you. Doesn’t that sound like a better way to live than looking at people through narrowed eyes with bitter suspicion and self-pity?
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