Am I an unforgiving person?
Asked by Moringa
Thank you for your message and for sharing with me the struggles you're experiencing in your relationship, resulting in not being able to trust.
Trust is a word we hear a lot. Recently I heard a story on the radio about investment fraud In which one of the victims of the fraud said, "I'll never trust anyone again." A strong statement about trust and one worth exploring.
What is trust anyway? The definitions of trust indicate that trust in another person imposes upon him a duty of care that asks him to be someone we can rely upon to do what we have asked of him. It seems straightforward to understand when we read it, but what happens when we examine the way trust works? Trust requires a relationship between two people, and all relationships are complex.
As we experience relationships, we come to realize that in a relationship, two people never fully know one another or can expect that the other person will do exactly what we want to have done. This is particularly true if we ourselves are not certain what we want and need or how to ask for it.
Where do we learn to know what to expect of our relationships? To know how to relate to another person we start with knowing the only person we can really know, ourselves. If we want to trust someone else, we begin with first learning who we are, what we want, and what we know about ourselves as we grow and change. We explore our strengths, boundaries, and limitations. Knowing who we are and what we are capable of, we learn how to trust ourselves.
One of the key approaches in our work here is to help folks who are sensitive to go from feeling vulnerable in their sensitivity to feeling powerful in their sensitivity. We may not be able to change how easily we feel sensitive about things due to our past experiences and traumas, however, we can continue to practice making choices that would empower ourselves even when we feel sensitive.
When we are able to create this "inner peace" within us and feel grounded, we will see ourselves being more capable to take care of others, because we have taken care of ourselves. We'll go through this process together. :)
One of the keys to making that transition is to start feeling safe & comfortable in your body and to create that safety for yourself wherever you go.
Situations that can trigger a feeling of unsafety
When we are sensitive, many situations can trigger a feeling of unsafety. For example, we can feel unsafe when:
We feel judged and/or rejected
Our finances are unstable
We feel a conflict between people (even when it’s not about us)
A situation reminds you of an earlier situation that felt unpleasant or unsafe
We get ‘triggered’ and our old wounds/hurts to come to the surface
We feel threatened by our surroundings/environments that remind us of our past
You can even run your life in a default setting of feeling ‘unsafe’ just because of all the energies you feel around you.
The result is that you leave your grounding and that you feel unstable, worried, uncomfortable, and out of balance. You move from your heart back into your head.
How can we feel safer?
Feeling safe is partly an inside job and partly an outside job. If you are in an environment that just isn’t right for you, where you don’t fit in and don’t feel a connection with people, it will be hard to feel safe and comfortable there.
This is not as easy as it looks.
In the context of our everyday activities and familiar circumstances, we may assume we have done this and already know ourselves. We may apply labels to ourselves and say we are “fierce” or “shy” or “lazy”, but labels do not invite knowing. They make categories. Do we actually know ourselves? Unfortunately not much may challenge our assumptions about ourselves until a major shift in our lives comes along. Then in the face of a significant change, we may understand we have not looked as closely as we might.
If the change is physical, we may begin to look deeply at our physical patterns of expression for the first time. We may have been unconscious of the ways in which our movement patterns, strengths, and weaknesses are unique. Now we ask: How do I get things done? What are my strengths and limitations? How do my strengths work with my unique movement patterns? How will I negotiate around my limitations?
If we don't know what to expect of ourselves, it can be very hard to trust the people helping us. After a sudden change in our physical abilities, we may feel deeply invaded. We all have boundaries - places where we feel vulnerable and want to keep ourselves separate from someone else. Where are our boundaries, and how do we protect ourselves if we cannot walk away? This is vital to discover at a time when we may need assistance in ways we have never needed it before and would prefer not to admit this need.
If we have a financial problem we may look at the decisions that led to the problem and judge ourselves harshly for making a mistake - not remembering that hindsight is 20/20. We may not realize that there were things we assumed and didn’t challenge or examine or learn that we had better learn now. Being critical of ourselves, we may be reluctant to look at our actions clearly and learn from them.
Building trust in ourselves requires us first to look closely at ourselves, being honest about what we discover. Then we must practice compassion for and acceptance of the person we are discovering ourselves to be. Being willing to know is not the same as harshly judging. Harsh judgments close us off to ourselves. Compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance open us up and allow us to learn.
If we know and accept our limitations without fighting that knowledge, we can learn to communicate what we know and don't know about what we can and cannot do. We come to understand that everybody has limitations. We see that we and our relationships are always transforming - never remaining static – giving us endless opportunities to keep on learning.
Building a relationship with another person is done a step at a time as we explore the ways we can interact and care for one another. When we know ourselves, we do not expect that simply because someone is an expert, she knows what is best for us. She will know many things we do not know and will have much to teach us, but she doesn’t know us. We are the only ones who can have that specialized knowledge. In a relationship, each person can regularly communicate what he knows to the other and both can learn where to trust the other. Perhaps that also goes with building relationships with ourselves and our inner being?
Looking forward to talking with you more,
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)