Trust is a key component in any type of relationship, including the relationship that you have with yourself. When that trust gets violated (which tends to happen multiple times from multiple people throughout our life), it is difficult to find out how to trust again. For some of us, when we feel that our trust has been violated many times to significant degrees, it becomes hard to trust anyone. We might even mistrust others who have not done anything to actually warrant that lack of trust.
While learning how to trust again can be overwhelming, there is hope. Whether you go it alone or seek guidance from a licensed counselor, there are a few steps that you can take to becoming a more trusting (though not naive) individual.
Set Your Own Pace and Stick To It
The most important aspect of learning how to trust again is to set a timeframe for yourself in which you want to accomplish your goals in becoming a more trusting person. In doing this, you also get to decide whether or not you wish to reconcile with those who have betrayed your trust. You do not need to reconcile in order to forgive since reconciliation is more of a behavioral act that allows the relationship to continue. In fact, in some cases, it might be better to opt out of reconciliation. However, this will be up to your discretion, and you can work this into your timeframe for recovery. The important thing is that you hold yourself accountable and stick to the pace you set for yourself.
Be Honest With Yourself
Once you have your pace set, you can dig deeper into the heart of the matter by being more honest with yourself. As Dr. Cortney S. Warren writes, we tend to lie to ourselves about all kinds of things, ranging from what or how much we ate during the day to how someone or something really made us feel. We do this so that we do not have to face the consequences that the truth presents to us.
Establishing an honest relationship with yourself allows you to become more congruent. In other words, it lets you contemplate and illustrate your feelings with others in a way that is truthful and constructive.
Forgive Yourself First
As you become more honest, and, therefore, more congruent, with yourself, you can find ways to forgive yourself. Learning how to trust again means trusting yourself and, when you find you have been in the wrong, forgiving yourself for this mistake from which you have learned.
When someone breaks your trust, you might think
I did something to deserve this
How could I be so naive?
There might, in fact, be nothing that you could have done to prevent someone else from betraying your trust. Regardless of whatever your imperfections might be, it is okay to have compassion for yourself. Also, it is important that you differentiate someone else’s behaviors from your own. You can only control your own actions, and those who have betrayed your trust are only accountable for theirs.
Once you have separated the actions of others from those that you alone are responsible for, you can start finding ways to forgive the people who have lost your trust. Forgiving them is a core element of learning how to trust again because it means embracing the past. In order to accomplish this, you will want to consider lessening your reflective emphasis on certain events and try to understand the perspective that person might have held at the time.
Oftentimes, in retrospect, we tend to see the people who have hurt us as only the negative things they, to us, embody. Learning how to trust again involves seeing those people in a more holistic light. Once you are able to embrace that person’s truth (much as you have your own), forgiveness can take place.
One of the interesting things to note about forgiveness is that engaging in it has been shown to improve physical health ailments, reduce stress and anxiety, and lessen the severity of depression. The anger that triggers when you have someone betray your trust can, in some ways, be constructive. it can be physically and mentally harmful when it becomes toxic and overpowering. Studies have linked elevated levels of anger and hostility to increased risks for coronary heart disease.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Developing the tools for learning how to trust again can be difficult and is not something you have to do entirely on your own. Whether you confide in a close friend or family member or in a licensed counselor, having someone listen to your thoughts and feelings can help you become more trusting. Allowing these people into your mind and heart opens up room for optimistic-but-realistic hope.
Different types of counseling for learning forgiveness and trust exist and have been developed over the years. One popular model used by counselors is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in which the counselor works with a client to work through the negative thoughts and emotions and reframe them into more helpful and constructive ones. This can help you establish the goals you want to set for yourself in becoming a more trusting person again and follow through on them.
There is no universal method for learning how to trust again, and there is no singular time-frame that you should follow. Instead, you can set your own pace and allow yourself to process your feelings and re-write your own script as things continue. Of course, it can be easy for any of us to lose sight of our goals or become overwhelmed while trying to reach them. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that there is no shame in reaching out for help. In fact, when you are learning how to trust again, having an unbiased, compassionate, and trustworthy counselor on your side can make a world of difference.