One of the more frequent complaints I hear among patients is, I have trouble trusting others.
Usually, this concern is expressed in absolute and dichotomous terms. In other words, they are saying they either can trust others or they can’t, with particular difficulties on the latter. This in itself is actually not accurate. Why?
I am not suggesting they have not experienced significant, serious, or painful boundary violations, abandonments, or hurts. But what they are really saying is, I cannot bring myself to trust anyone absolutely enough. Guess what? Neither can most of us!
I often respond by asking them, to ask me, “Do you trust your best friend?” I respond, “Of course!” Then, I ask them to ask me again, “Do you trust your best friend?”. I respond, “Of course not!”
In reality, it is both. When trustworthiness is running 95% favorable / 5% unfavorable – we have a pretty good relationship. When trustworthiness is running 70% favorable / 30% unfavorable, things might be a little uncomfortable. When it is 50 / 50 or less, it might be downright anxious until some healing takes place.
Trust comes and goes, waxes and wanes dependent upon a host of factors. It is earned, and it is lost. It is lost, and gained back.
It is very possible when someone complains of not being able to trust – they are actually saying they are having trouble attaining an absolute and/or unrealistic level of trust.
Seeking absolute and unrealistic levels of trust is what a child might do – and also a wounded adult – who has been hurt during a particular developmental stage in their life and may be clinging to outdated expectations.
There are several things we can do to develop better more accurate discernment of levels of trust.
- Increase our level of Self-Differentiation (see more about this HERE)
- Develop a better sense of Boundaries (see more about this HERE)
- Develop a wide and varied support system with different persons fulfilling different needs, without expecting everyone to fulfill every need.
- Learn how to repair and mend relationships where possible through confrontation, apology, and forgiveness.
These interpersonal skills can help us become better at assessing, maintaining, repairing, and finding the levels of trust we need, essential to healthy intimacy.
© 2015 Dr. Daniel L. Baney