Trust

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:

  1. 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? 

  1. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. 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

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Prayer and Hard Work

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for evil! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Being from a small city, I grew up believing I would one day move away and live somewhere exciting and amazing. My friends and I all had big plans for college and our future. We spent a lot of time looking at schools and applications and trying to decide what we wanted to do with our life. When my senior year of high school came, I had narrowed down my choice to two possible universities: UT Austin and UTPB. I sent off my application to those two schools knowing that I was going to go to UT because it would take me away from home and to a new life. After all, I had only applied to UTPB as a requirement for a program I was in. However, by the time I received my acceptance letter in the mail from UT, I knew my plans had changed, and I would be staying home.


Most people did not question my choice because they saw it as the more practical one, but a few people thought I was crazy to give up the chance to leave home. They questioned my decision and thought I would waste away in this town, never accomplish my goals, and never truly experience life. At the time, I told everyone I was staying because it was what I wanted…but really, it was what God wanted. I had prayed about my choice, and I truly believed God wanted me to stay home, and He would let me leave when the time was right.


It has been six years since I made the choice to stay, and I would be lying if I said there hadn’t been times when I wished I had left when I had the chance or times when I wondered what my life would have been like if I had left, but even then, I don’t regret staying. God continues to keep me here and, as long as I keep letting God take charge of my life, I will be happy. He has given me so many experiences I would not have been able to have if I had lived anywhere else. I’ve travelled to different countries, been a missionary and helped lead teens closer to Christ, finished my Master’s degree, made friends, and learned about love and life.


I stayed home not really knowing if I would ever leave or be able to get a job here, and I have allowed God to take me to different countries and states without knowing anyone there. Both of these risks not many people would take. I have also spent my time and money applying to 16 different universities over the past five years just to be rejected and end up exactly where I am now. At this point, I feel most people would just stop trying and put their energy into something that would bring more immediate results. I have even thought of doing that myself because it is not easy to deal with so much rejection, especially not when every dream you have depends on the decisions of others. You can’t be one of the 5 out of 500 to get into a psychology PhD program without someone else’s acceptance; you can’t start a family by yourself, and you can’t do either without money.


It is easy to compare your life to another’s life. We see others succeed in areas we would like to succeed in, and we see others make things that are so difficult for us seem so easy. I constantly have to remind myself that my life is good and God knows what He’s doing just so that I won’t become so preoccupied with what I want but do not have. It’s not easy wanting something that seems so out of reach…it’s not easy to see the finish line but not be able to cross it.


With the odds of getting into grad school being so low, it would be so simple to just stop trying now and settle for what I already know I have…but if I do that, I would not be honoring God’s promise to me (Jer 29:11). I have trusted God to get me this far, and even through the disappointments, He’s never failed me.


I always tell others that fear is not of God, but once again, I have forgotten to take my own words to heart. I keep letting the fear and the hurt of not getting accepted keep me from trying again. I keep putting myself in situations that make it harder for me to leave, and I keep focusing too much on what I want right now. I keep waiting for things to change, but if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that some of the only things that get you anywhere good in life are prayer and hard work.  


I see so many people give up on or lose track of their dreams, and it makes me sad because I cannot imagine a world where I would do the same. It won’t be easy, and I know it is not in my power to decide the timing of everything; but if I just keep working hard and never give up on God’s promise, I will eventually accomplish everything at the right time for me.

I don’t pray for patience, I pray for strength.

Originally Written and Posted: January 4, 2012