How can you rebuild trust after a history of betrayal and disappointment? You can seek out therapy or relationship advice, but trust issues come in many forms and are multi-faceted.
We lose trust in people — parents, siblings, friends, lovers, spouses, and even children. We can lose trust in circumstances, such as a work or job situation, or travelling such as driving or flying. Disappointments are an inevitable part of life — both being disappointed and being the source of disappointment.
We can lose trust by making associations and generalizing experiences, such as:
- “My dad cheated on my mom.”
- “My best friend’s husband cheated on her.”
- “My college boyfriend cheated on me.”
- “My first husband cheated on me, so I don’t trust my husband to be faithful.”
- Or even more simply, “He has lied to me before, so I can’t trust him now.”
- “I have been lied to or betrayed in any number of ways before by any number of different people, so I don’t trust anyone.”
Wherever the source of mistrust comes from, rebuilding trust outside of yourself starts with trusting in yourself.
Mistrust is simply a shield to protect you from a fear. So, if you are afraid of being cheated on like your mother was, because it indicated that she wasn’t enough or wasn’t worthy, which means if you are cheated on you are also lacking and unworthy of loving devotion, you begin to mistrust so you will have protection from being blind-sided by a perceived inevitability.
You gear up for it by being aware that it’s always right around the corner anyway, hoping that will soften the blow.
When you believe that you can handle, survive, or be made stronger by a recurrence of what led to this mistrust, or at least come to some place of acceptance and faith in the process of living — knowing that you are exactly where you need to be, having the experiences you are meant to have to get you where you want to go — you can exist with and move forward with this person or through this familiar circumstance.
Over time, through continued success, you will start to trust again.
The magic is within you. No need to protect yourself from being duped again; because someone else’s dishonesty is always about them, not you. Have gratitude for the life system that gave you the opportunity to see this person’s limitations so you can evaluate their appropriateness in your life, or re-evaluate the health of the relationship and determine where changes need to be made, or evaluate yourself and identify the broken link in your chain of life that allowed you to have this experience or that brought this dysfunction into your life experience.
Remember that the other person is responsible for their actions, and you are responsible for your experience of their actions.
A pre-requisite for trusting yourself again is leaning into the hurt and pain of the betrayal, disappointment or trauma. You must allow yourself to feel and experience it fully, or how else could you build the trust in yourself to survive it should it happen again?
Grieve the loss of trust, feel the sadness, hurt, anger and frustration. You have to move through it to the other side of the pain in order to triumph over it. Your body, mind, spirit and memory will remember the path of triumph and trust in that when called to in the future.
Try communicating your feelings and the consequences to the offending party:
- What did they do?
- How did you perceive it?
- What part are you unsure of?
- How did it make you feel?
- What decisions/actions did that feeling lead you to?
- How did their direct action impact your actions and your feelings?
Acceptance and unconditional love comes next. For your and their imperfections and fallibilities. Remember to have empathy for their shortcomings.
For instance, imagine your child has failed to hit a target. Wouldn’t you feel bad for them that they failed or didn’t get it right? No one is perfect. If you spend enough time with someone, they will hurt and disappoint you at some point.
Then forgive them, the offense, and yourself for allowing it to enter your experience. If you both want a future together, find a compelling reason to rebuild trust, salvage the relationship, and build a new future that fosters honesty through acceptance of the dark side of each other and yourselves, as well as an appreciation of the light and love.