I Need Help With Learning To Trust Again
By: Ashley Brown
Updated October 25, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Christine Clawley
While many of us are taught to project an image of success, perfection, and strength, there is much to be gained from owning and even sharing your own weaknesses or vulnerabilities. By acknowledging our vulnerability, we can actually empower ourselves and learn to connect with others more authentically. When you put up emotional walls and defenses, you may be blocking yourself from fully experiencing life. Yes, it is true that trusting people can end in emotional pain, but without being willing to take the risk to trust, you might miss out on some of life's greatest joys. If others have hurt you in the past, this article will outline what you need to know in order to trust again.
Can I Trust Again?
When it comes to trusting someone again, it is not an impossible task. Research shows that you can trust anyone with practice, and most people can be trusted in the right circumstances—even if they have been untrustworthy in the past. Of course, this concept is easier said than done, since you have to be sure that a relationship is set up for complete honesty and openness. This process in itself can take a lot of work. Just know, you are not alone in your unwillingness to trust others; keep reading for more information on facing and working on trust issues.
Facing Trust Issues
If you have trust issues because you have been let down by people close to you in the past, you may project this fear onto those around you. You may unintentionally close yourself off from others with good intentions—people who want to form connections with you. If you feel that you are just waiting for someone to let you down or stop liking you, then you may not have healed from trust issues. When we fail to give others a fair chance and are expecting others to make mistakes or hurt us, we can fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy. By pushing those who may be healthy influences away, you may even be reinforcing the belief that the world is a scary, dangerous place filled with people meant to do you harm. You might challenge yourself, and ask whether you are creating walls around you.
When we conceal our vulnerabilities, or run away from them, we miss an opportunity to learn or grow; and we may unintentionally shut ourselves off from others. Taking an overly protective stance can lead to constant worrying about what others think or what might happen in the future. It also takes away from our ability to be present within the moment. However, if you have been hurt by others in the past, it's only natural to feel concerned about whether or not it's safe to trust. We all need some degree of security, stability, and consistency in our relationships. If we have not had these things, either within the families we grew up in or within our peer or social groups, then you may need to learn to practice self-care by protecting yourself emotionally—from abuse, manipulation, or conflicts—by limiting your contact with certain people and setting good boundaries.
One way to let those barriers down is to ask yourself, truthfully, if you have been hurt in the past, and if this might be influencing your relationships as a result. If you have been hurt, but think that you have dealt with these feelings, you might consider working with a therapist to examine, come to terms with, and begin to heal from your past. Understanding how the past influences your current relationships can help you become more aware of you triggers, fears, and defense mechanisms. If you are afraid of being rejected or abandoned, try to remind yourself that there are many other people who will embrace you as you are. Engaging in the therapeutic process can also help you establish a deeper relationship with yourself, where you let go of internal judgment and criticism and learn self-forgiveness and compassion. Here are a few truths that can help you overcome fear of trusting:
- If you're afraid of failing, remind yourself that success never happens without practice or failure.
- If you're afraid of being embarrassed, remember that everyone messes up and no one is perfect.
- If you're afraid of being wrong, know that it's okay, even admirable, to admit that you were.
It's normal to have these kinds of fears, but it becomes problematic if they prevent you from fully living life, taking risks, and pursuing your dreams. Most of us stay away from risks to some degree, but when we fail to take risks completely, we are less likely to experience positive changes or move towards our dreams. Fear of failure, rejection, or embarrassment may be holding you back, and if you let these fears be stronger than your willingness to have new experiences or heal, you may feel stuck and uncertain that change is possible.
How to Re-Learn Trust
If you are afraid to take a risk and trust because someone has hurt you before, that is a perfectly normal reaction. However, when these fears become too intense, begin to influence you negatively within your day-to-day life, or prevent you from forming deep connections, it is a problem you need to fix. It is possible to learn to heal and trust again, so here are a few tips for building trust with people who are worthy of it.
- Accept that fear is an evolutionary mechanism that is there to protect you from dangers. If you have unhealed emotional wounds or trauma, you may project fear into your environment when it's not appropriate.
- Learn to love yourself. This may sound cliché, but it is foundational. When you accept and appreciate who you are, others have less power to hurt you, and you learn how to pay attention to your own needs. Learn to enjoy being with yourself.
- Remember to take baby steps. It is imperative that you learn the proper ways to trust someone, so you can trust yourself to make rational decisions about others.
- Become curious about your own thoughts and feelings. Understanding your own thoughts and emotions can help empower you to prioritize what you need in your life. If you have lost trust in yourself, you can always find it again.
- Trust yourself first. In addition to loving yourself, you need to trust yourself. If someone makes you doubt or constantly criticizes your own thoughts or decisions, then you may be experiencing emotional abuse or manipulation.
Learning how to trust again, or starting to trust someone you care about again, is important to you moving on with your life and being happy. If you have tried the steps above but have little to no change in your ability to trust, do not be alarmed. It can be a slow process, and you shouldn't go it alone if you don't have to. Mental health experts are ready and willing to be by your side to help you understand this issue and work on solving it as well.
Trusting Again With BetterHelp
There is a growing body of research suggesting that online therapy can help those with concerns about trust in relationships. A study published in Counselling Psychology Review, a peer-reviewed research journal, found that online therapy can help promote trust in those seeking help. Specifically, the report found that the potential anonymity provided by internet-based platforms helps patients open up more quickly. This information is in line with research proving that online counseling is useful when managing a number of mental health issues, including those related to communication and relationships.
As outlined above, online therapy can help you work through feelings of mistrust. With BetterHelp, you can match with one of thousands of licensed professionals, which means you’ll have a better chance of finding a counselor who knows exactly how to help you with trust issues, as opposed to only those in-person therapists in your area. And if you choose to, you can remain completely anonymous, which may make it easier for you to open up. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Tamara is such a kind, listening and caring person. She helped me a lot to open up about my feeling & problems and it was surprisingly easy to just tell her everything, which was really hard because of my trust issues. She really understands and remembers the thing you've told her. I consider myself very lucky to be assigned to her, thank you so much for everything Tamara."
"As someone who struggles with talking to people and emotions, I was extremely hesitant to start counseling let alone do live sessions. I was able to open up immediately on my first session with Jessica. She was patient and calm with me which gave me the sense of trust I was looking for. She has a gentleness in her voice and empathy in her eyes that could put anyone at ease. She asks questions in a way that gives her the info she needs but allows you to open up as well. I'm so thankful I was matched with her and would highly recommend her! Thank you Jessica for being amazing."
Learning to trust again can be a process that takes time and patience. Talking to a professional therapist can help you trust yourself again and rebuild healthy relationships. Trusting someone is a major part of the human experience, and you can get there—all you need are the right tools.
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