How do we learn to trust again after getting hurt? I’m sure life would be easier, if I had the answer to that question.
It’s usually not difficult for me to forgive and reconcile with people, it’s the part after that gets difficult. I constantly wonder how I can forgive someone so easily but have so much trouble trusting again.
I realize part of the issue is that I don’t want to repeat my mistakes and get hurt again. I don’t want to feel like someone has taken advantage of my love. These feelings almost always lead me to feel afraid, though.
Is living in fear really worth not having to step out of my comfort zone? Am I helping my relationships grow and improve by holding on to fear?
If I’m completely honest with myself, I would have to answer no to both of these questions, but my actions often say the opposite. I allow myself to live in fear because trusting someone isn’t always easy. It’s something that we have to constantly work on in our relationships, especially when someone has broken our trust before.
As a counselor, I’ve gotten meet with people with all kinds of trust issues. I’m no expert on trust, but trying to help other people with their trust issues has really helped me figure out what helps me get over my own trust issues. So, here are just a few things that have helped me find my answer to how I learn to trust after getting hurt, maybe they’ll help you figure out some answers in your own life:
- Start Small. More often than not, we make trust an all or nothing deal. Trust isn’t a giant umbrella that encompasses all areas of life, though. We trust the people in our life in different ways and at different levels. Just because someone broke your trust in one area of life does not mean that you can’t trust him or her with anything at all.
I may not be able to trust them with the big things, but what can I trust them with today?
- Give Up Control of the Situation. We can’t force anyone to gain our trust back, and we can’t make things be like they were before. We so often attempt to take control of a situation by trying to make a relationship return to what it was before trust was broken. We hold on to things we want to have control over with tight fists. We’re so busy holding on that we forget what it is we are really holding in our hands. Once we allow ourselves to unclench our fists and let go, we are finally free to see the bigger picture.
Am I still trying to take control or am I able to see the bigger picture?
- Give Trust. Relationships usually start off with people trusting each other. Once someone breaks our trust, we think they must show us they can be trusted before we can give them any trust again. We tend to see trust as something that needs to be earned. However, we run into a road block when we view trust this way because we can’t always know if someone can be trusted again if we never give him or her the opportunity to show us.
The only way to see if your child will get home within curfew this time is to let them go out with friends. The only way to see if your friend will be supportive of you this time is to ask them to help you out with something. The only way to see if your spouse can be truthful this time is to not automatically assume they are lying.
In what ways can I change my actions so he or she can have the opportunity to show me they can be trusted?
- Make Everyday a New Day. When we get hurt, the only way we can get better is to move on. We can’t keep bringing up old wounds in new arguments. Everyday is an opportunity to start fresh. If things didn’t go well yesterday, put that day in the past so that it doesn’t make today a bad day as well. If all you ever do is give second chances, things will get old really quickly. Instead, make each chance a new chance so that things might have a better opportunity to improve.
Do I bring up old wounds or am I able to move on?
- Communicate Without Being Confrontational.When someone breaks our trust, we feel all kinds of different emotions. It’s easy to allow our emotions to get the best of us. We feel attacked and, in defense, attack back. We don’t always know how to express our emotions without cutting down the other person. Talking about how we feel can help heal the relationship, but a conversation should be stopped if it keeps going in circles. A conversation should never reach the point of insults and hateful comments. Constantly reminding someone they broke our trust isn’t going to get us to trust them again. If trust was broken, chances are high that the issues go deeper than just trust. There were likely problems before and there will likely be problems after, if we don’t learn how to communicate appropriately and respectfully.
Am I able to communicate without being confrontational or defensive? Are there any underlying issues that keep me from communicating appropriately and respectfully?
- Acknowledge that each person is different. We often don’t trust people based on what other people have done. We allow the pain one person caused us to make us afraid that everyone else is also going to cause us equal pain. We feel like we made a mistake by trusting someone, and we need to be on guard so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. It’s good to learn from our past, but we miss out on new experiences by putting our guard up. We shouldn’t view one person’s actions as a reflection of another person’s actions.
Do I generalize people’s actions based on one person’s actions or am I able to see each relationship as it’s own?
- Take Care of Your Own Emotional Needs. We have a tendency to feel like other people are required to help us feel better. They made us feel bad, so now it’s their job to make us feel better. No one else can fix our emotions for us. It’s so difficult to heal a broken heart because we are the only ones who can fix it. Regardless of what anyone else does for us, we are the ones who have to decide when we are ready to be okay again. We are the ones who know what makes us happy.
Do I wait for others to make me feel better or do I look for ways to feel better on my own? Am I doing anything for myself or am I too focused on others to even find time for myself?
- Acknowledge No One Is Immune From Breaking Another’s Trust—Even You. We sometimes fall into the illusion that because one relationship is better than a past one, we won’t get hurt. We fool ourselves into believing that we can attain perfection in our relationships. If we were honest with ourselves, though, we would see that pain is an unavoidable part of life. We all make mistakes, and sometimes our mistakes lead to others getting hurt and losing trust in us. We all disappoint one another, just in different ways. Once we realize this, we can start to see that trust is, more often than not, broken from the start. It’s something we have to continuously reestablish so that fear doesn’t cloud over relationships.
What things do people have a hard time trusting me with? What things do I have a hard time trusting others with? Do I allow these things to let me live in fear? Who in my life am I able to keep having trust in regardless of how many times they have broken my trust?
I like to write about my faith and how I experience things through my relationship with Jesus. Even though I do feel that prayer is a big part of learning to trust again, I did not include it in this list because I feel that these things can also apply to our relationship with Jesus. We have to learn to trust both Jesus and ourselves before we can truly learn to trust others.
Originally Written and Posted: April 14, 2014