3 Techniques To Uproot Your Trust Issues, As Advised By A Therapist
To rebuild trust in relationships, one must start from the foundation-trust in oneself.
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | November 20, 2023
Trust forms the basis of all our connections. When trust is strong, relationships flourish, communication is transparent and individuals feel safe and valued. On the contrary, a lack of trust can lead to emotional distance, misunderstandings and even the breakdown of relationships.
Despite the pivotal role of trust, many people struggle to place their faith in others, often due to past betrayals. These experiences of disappointment can create a reluctance to trust new people, forming a barrier in the development of meaningful relationships. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology underscores how trust influences memory. People with low trust in their partner tend to recall their partner's mistakes negatively, emphasizing self-protection over relationship dependence. Conversely, those with high trust exhibit a positive bias when remembering their partner's transgressions.
However, letting fear dictate our ability to trust can hinder personal growth and prevent the development of meaningful relationships.
While we cannot control the betrayals of others, there are actions we can take proactively to develop a robust understanding and sense of trust, so that we can be generous yet mindful the next time we decide to trust someone with it. Here are three.
1. Stop Breaking Promises To Yourself
Distrust in others often arises when you repeatedly break your own commitments. Think about it—if you can't trust yourself to keep the promises you make to yourself, how can you trust others to keep their promises to you? To begin trusting others, start by honoring your word to yourself.
- Set achievable goals and commitments for yourself. This will not only boost your self-confidence but also give you a track record of keeping promises, even if they are just to yourself.
- Creating an accountability system is a potent tool for building self-trust. Share your goals and commitments with a trusted individual who can provide support and encouragement. Alternatively, keep a journal or use productivity apps to monitor your progress.
2. Work On Fully Accepting Yourself
Another reason behind the fear of trusting others is the dread of judgment and criticism. What you fear others might critique about you often mirrors your self-criticism. Low self-esteem and self-doubt can hinder trust in others. To build trust with others, you must first learn to fully accept and love yourself.
- Practice self-compassion. Be kind and forgiving to yourself, just as you would be to a close friend. Acknowledge that nobody is perfect and it's okay to make mistakes or have imperfections. This breaks the cycle of self-criticism and judgment. Research indicates that self-compassion not only helps individuals in handling challenging situations but also extends its beneficial effects to elevate the enjoyment of positive events.
- Challenge negative self-talk and replace it with positive and affirming thoughts. Our internal dialogue plays a significant role in our self-esteem and our ability to trust others. This gradually builds a more positive self-image and a healthier self-concept.
- Celebrate your strengths and individuality. Embrace the things that make you uniquely you. This makes it easier to value yourself and extend that trust in your own worth to others.
3. Learn To Trust By Actually Trusting
It's easy to remain guarded and skeptical, but trust cannot be developed without taking the risk of trusting others. Trust is a two-way street that requires effort and vulnerability. Here's how you can start trusting by actually trusting:
- Take the leap and be authentic. Authenticity is the foundation of trust because it shows that you're not hiding behind a facade. When you are genuine, others are more likely to reciprocate by being genuine with you.
- Understand that trust is a gradual process. Trust is not built overnight. It takes time to develop and strengthen. Research supports the idea that building trust gradually is more effective than attempting to establish trust in a single encounter. So be patient and give yourself and others the time needed to demonstrate trustworthiness. Be open to the fact that trust evolves, deepens and becomes more resilient over time.
While you are at it, be prepared for the possibility of disappointment. Not every person or situation will result in a positive outcome. Instead of dwelling on disappointments, view them as learning experiences that can refine your judgment in the future and be open to the potential for trustful connections.
Trust is the bedrock of any healthy relationship, but fear often prevents us from placing our faith in others. Building self-trust is an incremental process, it won't happen overnight. But by taking proactive steps, you can break down the barriers that keep you from forming deep and meaningful connections. Building trust is a journey and the rewards of stronger, more fulfilling relationships are well worth the effort.