I Have a Hard Time Trusting in a Relationship- What Should I Do?

Kavita Hatten
January 5, 2018

When I dig deep with my clients, the issue of trust is at the core of most of their difficulties. Whether they are suffering from a broken heart, been betrayed, or lost a close friendship, trusting again can be the biggest hurdle to overcome.

Trust is a basic universal need.

In developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, he states that trust begins at infancy – birth to about 18 months.

How a child is cared for and whether their physical and emotional needs are met determine if they can trust others (strangers) in the outside world.

Since trust develops at such an early age, adults who have not had their childhood developmental needs met will very likely have trust issues. These individuals may have difficulty trusting in relationships, have work/peer issues and have difficulty trusting themselves.

But, even if you are someone who had a relatively healthy childhood, you can still have trust issues.

Unless you live in a vacuum, you can’t go through life without “injuries” to your “trust.” Life is full of experiences and with that comes happiness but also losses and hurts.

Think of trust like its own entity – “a being,” that all things develop and grow from. With this “gift” we are confident, knowing and open. Without it we are closed off, doubtful and fearful.

If you haven’t healed from trust issues, it will likely impact your relationships.

Whether it’s unresolved childhood issues or adult relationship losses, there are ways to trust again.

1. Have hope

Set an intention that trust is something that you want in your life. Believing is the first step to change. Visualize how your life can change if you can trust. Ask yourself,” How will I feel, think or behave differently if I can trust again?”

2. Letting go of old beliefs

Your core beliefs about yourself and others develop from childhood experiences. Some of these beliefs are helpful in your adult life, while others are not.

Some examples of negative core beliefs are: ” No one can be trusted,” “If I’ve been hurt before, it will always happen,” or “I can’t trust myself.”

Identifying your negative core beliefs (that are creating roadblocks to happiness) is essential to developing trust.

Challenge your beliefs and ask yourself if it’s true. Modify your beliefs to something that is more helpful in leading a fulfilling life.

3. Trying new things

One way of developing trust is trying new things. Whether it’s joining a Meet-Up group, going to church or a spiritual workshop, or joining a gym, these are all settings where you can meet others with similar interests and practice being social.

Learning to trust again in a relationship begins with being comfortable around others.

People are people. When you can talk, share and be yourself, your confidence will improve. It will help when you have the opportunity to meet someone special.

4. Trusting yourself

You can’t begin to trust in a relationship until you trust yourself. Often my clients are struggling emotionally and in their relationships because they don’t trust themselves.

A common theme is they are looking “outside” themselves for reassurance and love. The problem here is that they are looking in the wrong place. Trust is within, in you – first and foremost.

If you don’t trust yourself, begin by making small decisions that you feel good about.

Soon you will realize that the bigger decisions aren’t as difficult as you once thought. This is because they came from a place of trusting yourself.

5. Be vulnerable

Deal with your past. Recognize when you are viewing a trust issue from your “adult self” versus your “child.” When you can identify if this is an old issue, you can begin to have a different perspective about how to handle a recent trust issue.

Allow yourself to open up in your relationships about where your trust issues stem from.

Go back to childhood hurts, if you feel it stems from there. When you can open up about what hurts you, you immediately stop allowing it to have emotional control over you.

6. Pay attention to lessons

Emotional and spiritual lessons keep repeating themselves until we learn from them. This is true for all of us.

You may find that the same thing keeps happening. You are feeling that you’re being taking of advantage of or been betrayed. See this as an opportunity for growth. A lesson to be learned.

Ask yourself:

  • How is this similar to what happened before?
  • How am I feeling?
  • What choices did I make that led me to feel the same way again?
  • How can I take better care of myself so I protect my heart in the future?

Instead of being a “victim to love,” recognize that you have choices on how you approach relationships.

Remember that trust is precious. It has to be cared and nurtured for just like that baby. When you put your heart into the world, know that it is wrapped in your love and acceptance, and be confident that you will bring only trusting people into your life.

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