Are You Cultivating Trust or Trust Issues?
What do you teach your children about trust? What are they learning by watching you… because it’s your actions rather than words that mean everything to a developing mind. When children witness a lack of a trust between parents, just imagine what that tells them about love, especially when those parents are still together. We show them how dangerous it is to trust your loved one and they grow up with trust issues. When we demand our children to be honest and “don’t you lie to me!” and yet we lie to them all the time… some trivial (Santa, Easter Bunny etc) and some major lies in the name of “protecting” them from the reality of what you’re going through. And yet often they sense the lie and are left in that state of confusion and trust issues are confounded. When we answer their probing questions, (generally when they are young and ask “are you OK?”), with the standard answer of “I’m fine” when you clearly are not. We teach children not to trust us and that it can be dangerous to probe too deeply, especially when we snap at them. Later, we wonder why we have teenagers who don’t really tune into our needs or moods, because they’ve learned to switch off and ignore our pain and they certainly don’t share with us, unconsciously knowing they can’t trust us.
Trust comes in so many forms and is lost quickly by those that have learned not to trust the world. Trust issues are common… because the world is confusing… people say one thing and do another. “Don’t drink” says the parent as they drink their wine every night. “Eat healthy food” says the mum who buys biscuits and chocolate and stashes them in the pantry. We believe in equal rights says the government and yet we lock up children for entering Australia without permission. We even learn not even to trust ourselves when we say one thing and yet do another! Often people with major trust issues will accuse their partners of cheating, not just once, but repeatedly and end up pushing their partner away and destroy the relationship or will continue to attract those partners who do cheat and lie to them.
The first step is to take responsibility for your own actions… if you say something, then follow through on the action or apologise and acknowledge to others when you don’t. When you do feel a negative emotion, own it! Name it to tame it and instead of blaming someone else for your feelings, own you’re own internal world and dialogue that got you to that trigger point. There is no button on you that turns that feeling on! It’s an internal job… so own up to it and deal with it.
Look at your relationships and find a way to cultivate your trust in that person. If they genuinely are honest and have integrity, and you won the trust issue, then get yourself sorted out! The more that you learn to trust others, the more you begin to trust yourself and the world and the less untrustworthy people show up in your life. As a reformed person with trust issues, I know for myself, I had a strong distrust of women. Growing up in a family of 4 girls and an emotionally unavailable mother who had many mental and health issues which were kept from us girls meant that I learned not to trust women. I couldn’t trust what came out of their mouth and I certainly never trusted them to follow through on their promises. That just didn’t happen in my family. So it took me years to cultivate trust in female friends. And yes, some of them let me down… big time! But I learned from each and every one of them, I learned to drop my expectations of them and find new connections that did support me. I learned to spot a trustworthy person and have discernment around those that I knew I couldn’t rely on. I have a whole network of women friends that I trust now. This doesn’t come without a willingness to work on yourself! And a realisation that no one out there is responsible for your beliefs and emotions and thoughts! When you’ve reached adulthood, you have to begin to grow up and sort your internal world out. For the sake of yourself, your children and your partner.
In your most intimate relationship, trust is essential. Cultivating a place of safety so that you can really reveal and explore who you are to that person takes time and courage. Sharing your inner world with your partner can help as they become a safe support person to talk to. Boundaries are essential though! Giving your partner and idea of what you need from them is helpful… say to them things like:
- Please listen and don’t feel you need to provide me with a solution when it’s my problem
- Please don’t judge me, this is my experience/thought/belief/value
- Respect my views even if they don’t match your beliefs – we do not need to agree on everything
- Allow me to safely express what I am and I will give you the same in return
- When we’ve both felt heard, we can then find a solution that works for both of us.
Also set up a space where you can safely talk and do it often! Always use “I” language rather than “you”. “I feel…” “I think..” “I need…” And if you think your inner thoughts will upset the other person, using touch and empathy to their response is much more effective than getting defensive straight up. Often if you express your concerns whilst touching (holding hands, hugging, snuggling etc), and saying what you need to in a calm voice, it can be heard easily. Sharing what bothers you with your partner in a way that can be heard and discussed calmly builds trust! It shows they other person that you are not out to attack them, but to work with them to find a solution.
Here’s a beautiful exploration and explanation of the value of trust in a relationship… This goes for your lover and for your children… trust is essential to having a strong relationship.