What does it mean to have trust issues? Trusting in others is something we all do subconsciously, every single day of our lives. No one can live without.
We trust the bus driver to get us to our destination safely. Then, we trust the supermarket to provide us with food that is safe to eat. Similarly, we trust our electricity and internet providers to run smoothly every day. But trust issues stem from far more complex and personal negative experiences that have deeply scarred someone.
Trust issues are almost always based on past experiences, fears, and a desire to protect themselves from any further pain or disappointment. It’s fairly easy to spot someone who struggles with trust issues.
One of the tell-tale signs is that they suffer from limiting thoughts. Examples include statements such as: “I’ll only get hurt again“, and “Everyone is out to get me“. A person with these kinds of thoughts is extremely likely to construct social barriers as a defense mechanism to ensure their future emotional protection.
In short, when a person’s trust is repeatedly violated, their belief system can be drastically affected.
Trust issues can start earlier than we think
There are numerous negative and damaging experiences in childhood or even adolescence that contribute to an adult’s lack of trust. Parents’ actions and behavior play a very big part in it. Even something as seemingly small as parents not following up to promises can create insecurity in children.
Witnessing extreme bouts of anger or rage can waver a child’s trust in his or her parents. Extreme betrayals of trust, such as child abuse, set up expectations of future betrayals. Victims of abuse can grow up to have a significantly reduced ability to accurately judge the trustworthiness of others.
Children can be very perceptive and pick up a lot more than parents know. If adults say one thing and do another, even unknowingly, for a child, this is a great cause for confusion.
In his book ‘Steps Toward an Ecology of Mind‘, Gregory Bateson touches on this crucial topic. Through his clinical research, he concluded that children learn to distrust their perceptions of social interactions when they have been confused by double standards experienced in their family environment.
How changing times have affected our ability to trust
It has become more and more difficult to remain trusting and open to life in this era of uncertainty, global crisis, divorce, and unstable family life. With the alarming rate of divorce and the overwhelming number of cheaters, it is not exactly a surprise that people have trust issues.
A number of recent psychological studies reported that over the past 10 years, there has been an unprecedented rise in trust issues among couples. This, in turn, has brought a rise in couples who seek counseling.
According to the experts, technology has a big part to play in this sharp increase. With technology today, it has become ever easier for partners to be deceptive and get away with it for longer periods of time. Cell phones, text messages and social media have made things extremely easy for disloyal people to deceive others.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand how people with trust issues can have difficulty engaging in certain social settings and living the most fulfilling life they can.
Having trust issues affects not just us, but those around us too
Distrusting the people around us can be damaging to one’s close relationships. Family and friends can feel wrongly persecuted, like they are not good enough or can never do the right thing. Resentment and broken relationships, in turn, will feed the problem of trust issues. As a result, this will lead to a vicious cycle that keeps repeating.
Ways to redevelop trust
Before any trust issues can be resolved, the issue needs to be acknowledged first. An honest admission will serve as the positive beginning needed to re-establish trust in others. Fortunately, most of us do have at least someone to lean on – usually, a friend or a family member who genuinely wants what is best for you. Spending time with them and beginning to trust their judgment is a very good start to opening up ourselves to others.
The next step would be to look into getting some therapy. There are many types of therapy that can greatly help to regain the ability to trust. In fact, the therapy itself provides an excellent exercise in learning how to trust. A qualified mental health professional can help in both understanding where the trust issues come from and providing effective ways to develop trust.
Another highly effective option is group therapy. This can be particularly useful for trust issues as there is scope for building and learning how to trust in more than just one relationship. Having a shared experience with others who are going through similar situations can be beneficial to everybody who is involved in group therapy. If one is spiritually or religiously inclined, seeking help from a spiritual leader can also be looked into.
Do you have any experiences with anyone who has trust issues? Share your views below.
- Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson