Trust and trauma
We know how important trust is to build and nurture important relationships. But for survivors of trauma, it’s even more challenging, because usually, someone in our life has broken that trust by betraying or hurting us.
And it’s not only trusting those around us that proves to be difficult, it’s also learning to trust ourselves and put faith in our ability to make the right decisions. We find that we blame ourselves and set borders and boundaries if others violate our trust.
Put simply, our lack of trust is a coping strategy that manifests, and as a result we choose not to rely or trust anyone; we feel terrified that something is at risk with such a connection.
Learning to trust ourselves is a crucial step to start healing and to create heaven in our lives. But guess what? We can learn to trust again. How do I know? Because I’ve been there. I am a survivor of trauma with trust issues.
Once trust is broken, can you get it back? YES! For those who have been victims of trauma, you will likely think that you cannot rely on anyone but yourself – and even that is questionable. After all, trust, as you know it, has been shredded to pieces, stomped on, and thrown into a fire. So why in the world would you want to trust the next person that comes along? Or the person in the mirror?
Our minds are strong and they work to protect us. They will put up walls, borders, and blare train horns to keep us from trusting when we have been so broken in the past. It is a coping strategy designed by our complex body. We may not even realize we are doing it.
We may even overgeneralize others, lumping every potential relationship into the role of someone to be untrusted for one particular reason or another. Meanwhile the entire time – it is you that you cannot trust. Maybe you think that you can’t trust yourself to make a good decision. Or, maybe you feel that if you let yourself open up to trusting someone, you will be harmed again and it will be your fault.
So, let’s start tearing down that wall, shall we?
Teal Swan’s video on TRUST (What is Trust and How to Build Trust in Relationships) defines trust as: “I can rely on you to capitalize on my self-interests.” No, that doesn’t mean that you are relinquishing control of yourself for someone else’s benefit. And no, as Teal Swan says, it does not mean that you are asking for the other party in the relationship to look out for your self-interests more than their own.
Before you can successfully build trust in a relationship, you need to have the answers to the following because, if you don’t know, then your partner surely can’t know:
1. Define what it is that you really want and really need
2. Define what your best interests are
3. From this list to determine what is really true for you
4. Create opportunities to practice what is true for you
When you are in a relationship, you become together with other as “oneness.” This means that not only are you to look out for your own best interest, but for the best interest for your partner, as well. You cannot hurt the other person without hurting yourself. This is how you discover a win-win situation. The broken trust comes when the self-interest of the other party is not honored.
Speaking of trust in relationships, your heart and mind are in a relationship with one another. Many times, one does not understand the action or reaction of the other one. The mind could be in fear and tell you to run, while your heart begins to break. Or your heart can be full of love and your mind is telling you, “no, this is not a good idea!” It is up to you to find the balance between the two so that they may complement each other, rather than fall apart. Looking out for the best interest of each is how you develop intimacy in your relationship between your heart and mind.
Practice makes everything better. When you were learning to ride a bicycle, and fell, you didn’t just get up and run back in the house, did you? No! You likely – with some persuasion -- got back on the bike, skinned knees and all, and tried again. Trust is the same way. You don’t just run away from it because you had it and it was broken. No! You dust yourself off and try again. Maybe you need some of that childhood persuasion to do so.
Ready to take the challenge?
If so, you are your own biggest fan – or you should be. And, if you aren’t, perhaps you may find it helpful to take a look at the 7 Day Self-Trust Challenge. Shawn Phelps teaches us how to trust ourselves again. Remember, if we cannot trust ourselves, we cannot trust others. In her challenge, she asks that you pick a goal and trust yourself to do it for 7 days. Phelps insists that this be something you want to do, not something difficult. For example, give yourself permission to watch one episode of your favorite TV show every night. Keep track of your progress and decide on a reward for yourself once completed.
When you learn to trust yourself, the hardest part is over. You can do it.