4 ways to learn how to trust again
“I don’t know how to trust again”
Trust is precious, especially in a loving bond between two people. Yet it can be obliterated so easily, and in what seems like an instant. If someone you love has proved to be untrustworthy, or you’ve been deceived in the past, you’ll probably have wondered how to trust again (and whether it’s possible).
The good news is that it most definitely is. It does take a bit of thought and determination though. Try applying the following pointers to your personal situation if you’re having trust issues. Because trust isn’t only confined to the romantic realm, this advice also contains a few valuable tips that will work in other areas of your life.
1. Finally forgive
One of the most important virtues in life is learning how to forgive. Sadly, it can be one of the trickiest to hone. The first step in rediscovering how to trust again is accepting that people make mistakes. Failing to let go for too long after you’ve been wronged is a fast track to bitterness. All it does is crush your hope in others. It also acts like a Petri-dish for angry feelings, becoming a breeding ground for chronic distrust further down the line.
Forgiveness is very much contingent on your situation. If your trust has been breached by your other half and you’ve decided to stay together, it’s imperative that you acknowledge their betrayal. This means they have to hold their hands up and admit their wrongdoing, and you must explore whether there was anything you could’ve done differently. Talk it out, accept what’s happened has happened and move forward together. If you feel the need to continually castigate them, reassess whether you’ve actually forgiven them. If they slip up again, it’s time to leave.
If a relationship has ended in a break-up or divorce because of disloyalty, forgiveness will help you heal your wounds. Though this does mean trying to forgive your ex, it’s more about forgiving yourself. Don’t blame yourself for what happened. Instead, have some self-compassion and realize that you a worthy of being treated with respect. Recognize that some people aren’t so great when it comes to faithfulness.
2. Fight the fear
Far too much of our life is dictated by fear, be it real or perceived. Being cautious of what can actually do us harm is sensible, but fearing the unknown is textbook self-sabotage. If you’ve recently come out of a long-term relationship where trust has collapsed, or you’ve had your faith in someone shattered by infidelity, the fear of it happening all over again can be overwhelming. Though this anguish is a normal response, let it linger on for too long and you won’t be able to move on.
Rather than submitting to a state of resigned purgatory, try and understand what it is you’re afraid of. Perhaps it’s the fear of rejection? Could it be the fear of loss? Maybe it’s failure? Realize that buying into these worries will stop you from fully learning how to trust against. Ernest Hemmingway once said that “the best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”. Stop fretting over the ‘what ifs’, grow your self-confidence, be honest with yourself and others, then start flourishing.
3. Viva vulnerability
Quite often we perceive vulnerability as a weakness that needs to be shored up at all costs. It runs contrary to the image of a tough and independent individual. We’re convinced that if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in front of others we’ll most likely end up getting taken for a ride. To combat this, and avoid the hurt, we end up erecting an impenetrable fortress and stow our sensitivities deep within its proverbial keep.
Thinking about vulnerability in this sense is counterintuitive. If you want to learn how to trust again, crenelating yourself against life’s potential hazards just won’t do. Being vulnerable can actually be constructive. Barriers block off new experiences. They stop us from getting closer to people and taking advantage of exciting opportunities. Yes, trusting someone new is a risk, but nothing worthwhile in life results from making pedestrian choices. Open yourself up to the possibilities!
4. Master your fate
Frankfurt-born poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (bit of a mouthful!) is revered for a number of reasons, not least for being Germany’s most famous literary figure. Why on earth is he relevant to this article? As it happens, in the first part of his magnum opus Faust, a tragic play that spans all manner of weighty subject matter, Goethe’s demonic antagonist Mephistopheles proclaims “as soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live”.
This is sage advice. It’s also a dazzling example of philosophic cogency. We spend an awful amount of our time and energy setting our gaze outwards. We look to others to fill the gaps in our lives, and to whom we can apportion blame when things go wrong. Metaphorically speaking, we need to climb up onto the bridge amidst the tempest, wrestle with the wheel and chart a course for calmer climes. This means trusting yourself, and your gut.