One of our readers from Indonesia called Iqbal has asked:
Is it healthy living with trust issues? Is having a trust issue a bad thing?
He goes on to explain:
Since I was in high school I haven’t been talking to many people. I trusted people once, and they kept letting me down, so it makes me picky when I want to make friends. Is it wrong to be this way? I know that living in the past isn’t good. But doesn’t the past give us experience to learn from?
My answer is yes; the past does give us valuable lessons and insights. Without reflecting on our past decisions and actions we would very likely repeat the same mistakes over and over again. So in my experience it isn’t bad to reflect on the past. But there is a difference between reflecting on the past, and living in the past. We’ll explore this more soon.
But first …
What Exactly is “TRUST”?
Trust, or the faith and confidence we place in others, is basically a culmination of expectation, desire, and belief.
For example, if I trust that you will keep my secret, I have the expectation that you will not tell anyone, the desire that you will keep my secret safe, and the belief that you should do this for me either because it is morally “right,” or because I believe it is what makes an honorable and respectable person.
As you’ve probably read before on lonerwolf, expectations, desires and beliefs collectively form some of the most painful mental traps that inhabit our minds, together with assumptions, comparisons, and ideals.
Therefore, the real issue here is attaching to trust and letting that attachment to those expectations, desires and beliefs cut into you.
The problem here isn’t having or not having trust in others, it is your continuous clinging to the expectations, desires and beliefs that have brought you pain in the past.
I Have Trust Issues … Is That a Bad Thing?
Mistrusting people in and of itself is not a bad thing. Why? Because mistrust is a form of intelligence – but it isn’t always. Let me give you a few examples:
Would it be wise to trust a thief with your credit card? Would it be wise to trust a gossipy friend with your marital secrets? Would it be wise to entrust your heart to an abusive alcoholic? Would it be wise to trust that no one will break into your house if you leave it unlocked?
Mistrust helps us to avoid distasteful and even potentially dangerous situations, and it helps us to make smart decisions about our lives. Mistrust helps us to make healthy decisions about who to befriend and who not to, who to romantically partner with and who not to, where to go and where not to go, what to do and what not to do.
However, there is a point when mistrust turns into its less intelligent counterpart: trust issues. Why is having a trust issue unintelligent? Because it builds a wall around your heart and prevents you from opening up to any kind of person, including yourself. Having a trust issue means that you ignore the proof that someone is trustworthy, you ignore your need to connect with others, and therefore you end up isolating yourself.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that there is a difference between reflecting on the past and living in the past. When we mistrust someone, we reflect on past experiences, memories, and advice that we’ve heard to stop us from making a poor decision. When we live in the past however, we find it impossible to move on with our current lives because we are absorbed in our old story-lines of betrayal, pain, and anger.
So how can you move from trust issues to simple and healthy mistrust?
Here is what I recommend:
1. Re-examine your expectations, desires, and beliefs.
If someone keeps letting you down in life this is almost always a sign that you have unhealthy and unrealistic expectations, desires and beliefs for other people. Consider what you expect and demand from your friends, family members or colleagues: are you asking too much of them? They are imperfect human beings after all. For example, are you expecting that they always return your phone calls and texts, without taking into account that they have very busy lives? Are you desiring that your family members always treat you kindly, without taking into account that they might have their own silent struggles or stresses to deal with?
When we re-examine our inner thoughts and feelings, we shift from a self-centric view of the world to a more balanced perception of life.
2. Ask, “What is REALLY preventing me from trusting?”
Yes, it is true that other people can be unpredictable, disloyal, and even cruel. It is also true that other people hurt us deeply and sometimes irreparably. But at the end of the day other people aren’t responsible for our trust issues, we are, because our trust issues arise from our own unhealthy tendency to cling to the past.
I have known and spoken to many people in the past who have constantly blamed others for their lack of trust. But underneath this anger and apparent self-sufficiency is a deep fear of being vulnerable, a deep mistrust of their own resilience and capability of loving others. When we mistrust and lack love for ourselves, naturally we find someone else to blame for our neuroticism and loneliness.
That is why I recommend asking “What is REALLY preventing me from trusting?” Inevitably, you will find that your mistrust has been put up as a wall to shield you from giving or receiving something. Find out what that something is.
3. Accept your reality as it is.
Acceptance is the doorway to growth. Accept that you have trust issues, that you feel painfully vulnerable, and that you are essentially imperfect, wholeheartedly. When you do, you will find that a space has opened for you to move forward with your life.
It really is that straightforward! But it does take time and patience.
Tell me … how have trust issues impacted your life? What have you done, or plan to do, that might help to give direction to others with the same problem? Please share below.