When our trust has been shattered, and we have learned to never trust anyone again, we are missing something big in life.
It’s like feeling safe at home, so we stay at home all the time—but we are missing out on witnessing the beauty of the amazing world outside. Not being able to trust is like missing the fragrance from a flower.
What else are we missing?
We are missing beautiful and fulfilling friendships or companionships.
We are missing the joy of sharing happiness and sorrow.
We are missing the feeling of belonging.
We are missing the feeling of being understood.
Let us examine some different situations that teach us not to trust:
1. You share something important and intimate with someone and expect it to be confidential, and you then discovered that confidentiality has been violated. This leads to distrusting people and not sharing your deep, inner feelings or confidential information in order to protect yourself.
2. You observe someone talking badly about someone else behind their back. You realize that this person could do the same behind your back, too.
3. Someone has lied to you and you discover the truth, but upon confrontation, they do not accept or take responsibility for it.
4. Someone pretends to be your friend, but they don’t show up when you really need them. It makes you feel that this person is unreliable. And after the moment of need, that person only works to justify their reasons for not being there.
5. You witness someone not keeping their word. No amount of justification can make you trust a person who never keeps their words.
6. Someone values their position of authority more than their relationship. For example: a boss not admitting his mistakes, simply because he’s the boss. Or parents making mistakes and not apologizing for them, or even accepting that they have made them in front of their children.
When you think about any of the above situations, deeply examine how you feel. Ask yourself how you felt when you first felt trust beginning to break in your own personal situations.
After the shock, the first feeling often one of regret—for trusting in the first place.
And what exactly is regret in this context? It’s a feeling of failure, of not trusting your own decision-making ability when it comes to trusting people.
While you believe that, thanks to your experiences, you have stopped trusting people, the truth is that you have actually stopped trusting yourself.
So instead of adding conditions, or having expectations from other people in your life, hoping that in doing so, they have an opportunity to “prove” themselves to you—just consider opening your heart. Try to invest your time and attention on building your lost ability to trust yourself again.
The first step will be to really inspect your own thought, feelings, and actions.
For example, if you have started to distrust people because someone you trusted was talking badly about you behind your back, meanwhile they acted like a loyal friend, ask yourself this question:
If I feel betrayed by someone for talking behind my back, have I ever done the same thing with someone in my life? Or maybe enjoyed listening to the gossip without objecting?
If you realize that you have done this too, don’t justify it, and don’t judge yourself too harshly. Understand that this is something within you that you can change, now that you’re aware, for your own growth. Owning your mistakes will only make you a better, more humble person. Do not feel shame or regret sharing your thoughts and revelations with someone you trust. It is possible you still struggle to trust people—this is still too new, too raw—but sharing this with someone you consider close will help you heal that, and learn to trust again.
Remember, you give what you have. As you learn to trust yourself, you will be able to trust others.
Sometimes, people learn not to trust from their immediate environment. They begin to believe that this is how things are done here—this is part of the culture, so why do I need to do anything differently?
Here’s an example:
When I moved to a new area, I started to get to know my neighbourhood. I began to see that one neighbour was talking badly about another neighbor, but acting like a friend to their face. I thought perhaps they simply didn’t get along. Then I got to know the other neighbour and observed same behaviour. As I got to know more people in my neighbourhood, I saw this happening everywhere and understood that was their culture—that most people here behaved in the same manner.
Once I realized this, I decided to never behave as they did. It’s not okay for me to do something wrong just because others are doing it to fit in or feel accepted. And if someone has spilled my secret, I would still not share theirs—regardless of what others have done, what I do, and how I handle that defines me as a person.
And becoming a person who is worthy of someone’s trust is much more meaningful than finding someone trustworthy.
How does it feel when people trust you?
It brings feelings of self-love and self-esteem—simply put, you feel good about yourself. We should always do things that nourish our self-love, self-esteem, and self-respect. The focus and attention must be on our inner selves. We cannot choose to behave like others—because we are not them. But we can always be inspired by their good qualities. Doing things you know are wrong, to fit in or to impress someone else, can damage your mental health in the long run. You will only feel regret later.
There are many therapies that can help break the cycle of distrust, and more importantly, help you trust yourself. Seek them out. Allow yourself to build quality relationships, both in your life, and with yourself.