Learning to trust again
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Claudia Anderson PG Dipl Psych, Registered MBACP
17th December, 20130 Comments
As children, we trust our parents implicitly; it is as we grow older that we realise that they are full of human frailties. However, childhood is often the place where mistrust begins, and if not identified can manifest into problematic adult relationships.
Do you find yourself in personal relationships, where there is a cyclical pattern of trust then mistrust? Can you draw a link between your need to sabotage a relationship for fear of being let down again, to your inability to trust yourself?
As mental and physical beings, we are constantly adapting, and our emotions reflect the people and events that come into our lives. On the one hand, this adaptive power helps us to deal more effectively with future situations, on the other, it can prevent us from embracing new possibilities. Instead of seeing a person or situation as something new, our past experiences dictate how we act and feel. Memories can be either a help or a hindrance, depending on the level of repressed feelings stored within our psyche.
When a friend betrays us, or a lover is unfaithful, it wreaks havoc on our ability to trust. As a result the next time a friend makes a promise, or a husband tells us where they've been, our subconscious minds suspect an undercurrent of deceit. Even if we pretend that everything is alright, the situation is clouded with the residue of the past.
What's worse, carrying this emotional residue can prevent us from attracting healthy fulfilling connections, whether in friendships, romance or sustaining intimacy in existing relationships. So how can we learn to trust again? Is it possible to vanquish the voices of the past, and truly open up to people, both old and new?
Firstly, be aware
The most important step in learning to trust again is observing your own reactions to people and situations, with care and attention. What are the events in the past which you are still holding onto? When you distrust, where specifically does it come from? As past feelings emerge, often unwittingly, it may be useful to seek professional help, from a counsellor / therapist to enable you to gain greater insight into why trust is difficult for you.
Secondly, trust yourself
A huge amount of distrust in others is actually an inability to trust ourselves. When somebody hurts or betrays us, our subconscious minds, can react in two very different ways:
A) Self-blaming, resulting in feelings of vulnerability, naivety, affecting both self-esteem and confidence.
B) Angry, bitter, defensive and controlling towards others.
Forgiving ourselves, and learning to be confident in our decisions, are key aspects in restoring trust in others. As individuals, we co-create our realities, but the fact is that many things happen that are beyond our control. Although we may not yet be ready to 'forgive and forget' having a balanced, mindful attitude will nurture inner discernment and over time promote better relationships with others, but more importantly a better relationship with yourself.
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