We all know how hard it can be to trust again if we have been hurt. The hurt could have come from any number of causes: lies, betrayal, embarrassment, rejection or any number of other problems. No matter what caused you to lose your ability to trust others, it is important to regain it and learn to trust again.
Especially if the wound is still fresh, you may feel like you don’t ever want or need to trust someone completely again. While that is true, it doesn’t make for a happy life. Our lives are based largely around the relationships that we build, and trust is a foundation for a healthy realtionship.
“Trust is at the core of all meaningful relationships,” says Dr. Terry Mizrahi, president of the National Association of Social Workers. “Without trust there can be no giving, no bonding, no risk-taking.”
So if relationships are a key to happiness and trust is a key to healthy relationships, what are we to do when we feel so damaged and feel that we can never trust again? Although it may seem as though it is out of your hands and you could not trust someone even if you wanted to, this is not the case. There are several steps you can take to allow yourself to trust again. It is not always comfortable, especially if you have been burned recently, but make no mistake, it is necessary if you want to be happy. Although they may not be easy or comfortable, these steps are simple and can help you take big strides in trusting again.
1. Understand that this is about you
Although it may not seem like it, trusting people is not about the person you are becoming involved about. You have to understand that you are doing this for you, and that this whole process is totally about you.
That may sound somewhat selfish, but the damage that was caused was done to your ego. Your ego did not appreciate that you were hurt or abandoned, but this does not have to define you. The feelings were caused by the actions of another, and that should not affect your entire life from that point forward. Your ego may be damaged, but don’t let it decide who you are and run you into the ground.
Whether you were lied to, cheated on or rejected by someone you care about, it damaged you when you were at your most vulnerable. That can cause you to put a wall around yourself and feel that you will never open up and allow that to happen again. While this would make you safer, it is no way to live.
You will have to take a long look at yourself to begin this process. That doesn’t mean going over and over the event that damaged you– there is no reason to pick at the scab– but it does mean thinking about what you want in the future. That brings us to our next point.
2. Do not allow your past to decide your future
I realize that this sounds cliche, but it is true. Normally cliches enter the mainstream consciousness because they contain truth, and that is certainly the case in this.
You understand that you have been hurt. You have thought about it so much that you can recite every second of the events. OK, now move on. That sounds simple, and I realize that it’s not easy, but you cannot allow that event to define your future.
It is true that we will tend to attract the same type of person, but that is because you expect that to happen. When you expect to date a certain type of person, that is the type of person you will be drawn to and vice-versa. So, change your expectations. Believe that you will find the kind of person that you can be vulnerable and open with again. The future does not have to repeat itself, but if that is what you expect to happen, you’re enabling it to do so.
3. Don’t expect someone to earn your trust
This isn’t what you’re going to want to hear, but the only way to trust is to begin to trust. You can take it slowly and take baby steps of trusting again, but it is the only way to start. You have to understand that hurt and trust violations happen to everyone, and unfortunately, there’s a good chance it will happen again at least in some small way.
The key is being prepared and taking the right perspective. Just like you, the next person you meet for a potential relationship will be human– most likely. This person will have flaws and fears just like you do, and they may be afraid of trusting as well. You have to understand that trust isn’t about finding the perfect, most trustworthy person– it’s about being ready to work through hurt when it arises. You don’t have to constantly be on guard, but you do have to understand that these kind of things happen and know that you can deal with it when they do.
Ernest Hemingway said it best: “The best way to find out if you can trust anybody is to trust them.”