Are you unwilling to share your feelings with others? Do you feel as though friendships and other relationships only lead to disappointment and hurt? Did something happen that has made you unable to trust others?
Emotional and physical abuse, personal betrayal, ongoing belittlement and victimization, or the loss of a loved one are circumstances that may lead to loss of trust in others. Distrust is often a method of self-preservation, but when it begins to close you off from the world, it becomes a hindrance to your well-being.
Regaining your trust in others takes time and patience. Try these techniques to start the process:
Seek to make small personal connections with people around you. Share small but not overly intimate details about yourself. Make a mental note each time someone else demonstrates trustworthy behavior toward you.
Different people are sometimes uniquely suited to play different roles in your life. For instance, you may only be comfortable discussing work frustrations with one friend, and your home life with another.
Spread your trust across multiple relationships and social circles in order to minimize any negative effect on you if trust is broken.
Be up-front about your needs and expectations, and don’t be too quick to abandon a relationship due to a perceived slight or breach of trust. Speak out when someone does something that makes you lose confidence in them by saying something like, “When you don’t follow through on your promises, it makes me feel like you don’t respect me, and I have difficulty trusting you.”
No one is perfect. Healthy, trusting relationships require forgiveness. Distinguish small mistakes, breaches of trust, or acts of thoughtlessness from big ones. Be careful to recognize the difference between destructive patterns and isolated instances of hurtful behavior.
If you’ve been systematically criticized and belittled in the past, you may have trouble opening up for fear of rejection.
Identify and shut down negative mental scripts that serve to destroy your confidence by recognizing when they occur and replacing them with positive affirmations. Make a list of your positive attributes and refer to it whenever you begin beating yourself up. Remember that you have something to offer.
Be Open To Therapy
Some wounds run so deep that healing requires the assistance of a mental health professional. There’s no shame in seeking professional help for your problems. In fact, it may be easier to open up to someone with whom you have no personal relationship. Your employee assistance program (EAP) offers counseling free of charge.
Risk taking is a part of life. All human relationships carry with them the potential for harm, but the potential rewards are so much greater. In relationships, as in all things, you have to give to receive.
Choosing your relationships carefully is an effective way to minimize the risk of emotional or physical harm. Give more weight to actions than words. In any healthy relationship, each individual is strengthened and made better by the other.
You don’t have to face life alone. By starting today with slow, incremental steps, you can again establish trusting and supportive relationships with others.