“How many times do I need to promise that I won’t hurt you? You can trust me!”. If only I had a dollar for every time I needed to hear that. “I just need you to say it!”. Sometimes I would practically spell it out, just to be clear on what I was asking for to relieve my wandering mind. Putting it on paper makes me queasy. But at the time, just a few words were all it would take to spare me from looping into my “I’m not worthy” mentality. Not just in romantic relationships either. I often feel insecure about family and friends as well. The upside to those intrusive and nagging thoughts is that family is stuck with me and my friends are very empathetic. Boyfriends though, that’s a different story. There will most likely come a time when I convince myself that I’m just the rebound to help him get over his ex, before he decides to go back to her. Or maybe it’s all fun and games until I have feelings, and then he will run. No matter what it may be, my insecurity will eventually pack his bags for him.
At least there will always be something to talk to my therapist about. Some days I feel like I have nothing to report. Life is great and I’m healing just fine. But wait, something is bothering me. What’s that? Oh yes, the insecurity demon. I even feel like I’m annoying my therapist, for crying out loud. Last week he shared some insight with me that I believe will be a game changer. Now that I’ve had days to process his words, trust has taken on a whole new meaning. And I’ve been doing it all wrong.
It started with a simple question. “What does it feel like to trust someone?” he asked. I think he picked the wrong person to ask, but okay. “Well, it’s knowing that the person that you love wouldn’t hurt you. It’s being confident that they would never do anything to jeopardize the relationship. And being sure that they always have your best interests at heart.” Good answer, right? I thought so, until he followed up with “how do you know that you won’t get hurt?” Well, duh, by what I’m told! “But how do you absolutely know that you will not get hurt?”. “Well, I guess there’s no way to know for sure!” Exactly.
He explained to me that having trust and being secure in a relationship is not about a promise that is made to you. It’s not even about the other person! We can make someone repeatedly say the words, “I will not hurt you” until they’re blue in the face. What we’re really asking for is to be lied to. Because they just might hurt you. Even if they are the most loving, kind and honest person on the planet, things constantly change. People change and feelings change and sometimes there is no one to blame. So placing all of your trust in someone else, to promise something that is merely a facade, is not going to get us anywhere. A million different things may happen which may cause a break up, or a loss. Making someone promise to never hurt you is asking them to lie. It’s something that can not be guaranteed.
What trust really means, is knowing that a number of things could happen, but no matter the outcome, you know you will be okay. Trust belongs with yourself. This is something you can control. You’ve been through it so many times. Pain, heartbreak and break ups. And you got through all of it. And not only did you get through it, you’re stronger and wiser because of it. You always make it through. You can not control what someone else will do. But what you can control is even greater. You can know, without a doubt, that even if you’re hurt, pain subsides and you carry on, every single time.
When you’re scared or your heart hurts, these are feelings. When you’re asking for constant reassurance, that is a behavior. What needs to change when you are displeased with your feelings or your behaviors, are your thoughts. You can change those thought patterns. You remind yourself that you are going to be okay over and over until it sticks. Because THAT is the real truth. This truth really can set you free. Stop depending on the words of others, and give the power back to yourself!
Let’s say you’re in a healthy relationship and you’re happy. Then the thoughts creep in. Before you know it, you’re asking yourself, “oh my gosh, what if THIS happens?”. Ok, so what IF that happens? You keep moving forward with your life. But then you dig deeper and you tell yourself, “but if THIS happens, I won’t be able to move on”. Funny thing though, you will move on. Because you always have. Because you always will. This is where you get that trust from! When you own that truth and accept that sure, you might get hurt, but you’ll move on because that’s what we do, you see that no one can take that from you. That is yours and right there is your security.
Before I left his office last week, he told me that fear can also mean False Evidence Appearing Real. How often do we convince ourselves of something based on false evidence? The scenarios we drum up in our own heads that have no merit sometimes appear so real to us that we just can’t escape it. We dwell and dwell until we have to speak up and ask questions or build a thick wall around us. Then we end up either embarrassed by our own neediness, or hurt by our own armor. It’s absolutely fine to ask questions, but don’t let these thoughts consume you. They will only hurt you. A lot of things will end up hurting you. But it’s time to place the trust where it belongs, and that’s within you.
So as you start your next chapter, bring along the person who has already overcome so much. Bring along the person who has been hurt but still carries on with an open heart. Trust yourself enough to know that you will end up okay, even when it’s painful. Know that you can’t control anyone else. But you can control your thoughts and harmful patterns. You can replace the insecurities and thoughts that keep you from being happy, with comforting thoughts of how far you’ve already come. You own that power. It’s your most valuable resource. Trust in you. Bring yourself with you, wherever you go.
Mark Radcliffe: Writer and singer/ songwriter based in Tulsa, OK with a weakness for bourbon and old, sl…
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