Do you feel constantly on edge, stressed out and like no one “Gets you”? Do you ever think “I don’t need anyone” or “The only person you can trust is yourself” or “Everyone is out for themselves”? I used to feel like I couldn’t trust anyone, not deeply. Sure, I had friends and family members that I could talk to, but I didn’t feel like I could truly be vulnerable with them. I was afraid that I’d be let down, judged, misunderstood or not taken seriously. This made it very hard for me to have any real, deep and meaningful relationships. I wouldn’t let anyone in, even though I wanted to. It was as if I was waiting for my partner, my friends, work colleagues or my parents to prove me right. And inevitably they did, because I would look for the smallest of things to prove to myself that I was better off staying at an emotional distance.
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I’d see the tiniest of mistakes, as a sign that I couldn’t trust that person to follow through, or to be reliable, to love me enough, or that I just wouldn’t ever be fully safe and comfortable around them. If my partner forgot to do something I’d asked, like load the dishwasher or buying a particular brand of sauce from the supermarket, to me, that showed he wasn’t a reliable person in any area of life and I couldn’t trust him to keep his promises. At times, I used to get upset about something, wanting comfort, and he would try to comfort me in his own way, but because it wasn’t my way, the way that I felt comforted, I would just get irritated and feel like he just doesn’t get me.
If he didn’t do something in the particular way that I wanted it to be done, like hanging up washing according to my system, or organising our dates a particular way, then I would just feel frustrated, believing that he didn’t care enough to do it “properly”. I felt like my partner was taking the easy way out of showing his love for me. I thought to myself “anyone can buy a gift or say they love you.” Sometimes I just felt like he didn’t love me, even though he would tell me all the time, and give me compliments and gifts and I knew he was physically attracted to me. But I just didn’t believe that he loved me fully for who I was – How could he? He didn’t even know who I was, because I found it so hard to let him in.
Trust is the foundation of relationships
I didn’t realise it at the time, but in my mind, I had a very specific set of steps that he needed to do in order for me to know he loved me. And of course, I didn’t tell him what these were, because that would defeat the purpose. I thought that If I told him, then he won’t be doing it because he loves me, he’ll just be doing it because I told him to. I know it can be hard when you want to let down your guard, you want to trust and make genuine and deep connections with those you care about, but something holds you back. The great thing is that the trust issues people may experience in life, can heal and the process is not dependant on anyone else but you. Don’t go through life without any meaningful relationships. You can do this, just like I have.
When you don’t trust others, you end up depriving yourself of one of the most important human needs. Maybe there was a time when you used to feel safe being yourself and sharing your personal story of who you were. Maybe there was a time when you trusted nearly everyone, but then you got burnt, someone let you down, something happened that triggered you to feel less safe and to want to protect yourself. Some people are able to dust themselves off and decide that this was just this time or this one person or circumstance, and that not everyone or everything will be like this.
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Some people can separate these times and allow themselves to start afresh in each relationship, giving others the benefit of the doubt. Other people might feel so scared of being hurt again that they actively run in the opposite direction, sometimes purposefully acting out and hurting others in order to keep them away. Some of us do something more in the middle, not lashing out or starting afresh, instead we try to connect and let our guard down, but inevitably we end up self-sabotaging at some stage in the relationship, whether it’s within the first awkward meeting, or months, possibly years later.
Why trusting might be a challenge
Often, when a person says “I don’t trust anyone”, it really means “I don’t trust myself”.
Sometimes the unconscious mind tries to protect us from feeling painful emotions by projecting the uncomfortability onto someone or something else. Often this uncomfortable thing is an unwanted emotion or characteristic about ourselves, that actually has nothing to do with the person or thing that we are attributing it to. It’s a way for the unconscious mind to avoid feeling certain emotions by labelling others as untrustworthy, out to get you or insincere.
For example, if a person is feeling unlovable or not worthy, they might create meanings about someone else or start an argument with that person by labelling them, calling them names or using their behaviour as signs to prove that the other person is not worthy. When these negative attributes or emotions are projected onto someone else, it leaves that person to deal with the anger, sadness, loneliness or frustration that’s been thrown at them, and it can prevent you from seeing reality clearly.
What people are saying about Emotion Academy:
"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
Sometimes it can go the other way as well and you might be on the receiving end of someone else’s projections. If you then take on their words or behaviours to be indicative of your worth, or who you are as a person, that might create uncertainty in your ability to trust your own thoughts, beliefs and feelings. Sometimes this happens when we are young children still forming our views of ourselves and the world, and then as adults we continue to self-fulfil the beliefs that we’ve created about ourselves. Some people might even start expecting to be continuously rejected or let down, which can result in negative thinking patterns and behaviours that invoke a negative reaction from others. This then reaffirms the original unhelpful belief and keeps you stuck.
Humans are biologically wired to be social and connect with others. A sense of love and belonging is one of our deepest human needs. So if you feel that you’re cut off from others emotionally, it can feel like you’re cut off from the most important relationship in your life; the relationship you have with yourself. If that happens, it can be confusing to try to understand and lead your own inner self. But you can learn just like I did. There are many tools and skills that you can use to develop more resilience in the face of emotional discomfort.
So how do you trust yourself?
Building trust in any relationship can be done in so many different ways, but for me I started small and built on my successes. I chose a few things to focus on in the beginning, such as the ability to follow through on the promises I made to myself, learning to form healthy boundaries when it came to dealing with other people’s negativity or their projected uncomfortability, and showing up for myself consistently by practising daily self care.
Once I had established those habits reliably, only then did I pick another healthy trust building activity to focus on. Afterall, just like the relationship that you might have with your child, your partner or your friends and family, the relationship with yourself needs to be nurtured and nourished over time. It’s not a one-off thing. We’re all, always in progress. So here’s a few ideas to start with:
1.Build Resilience. Learn to tolerate different states of being, like emotional stress, responding to anger, rejection, embarrassment, intimacy, vulnerability and love. Sometimes this means making tiny promises to yourself that you know you will follow through on no matter what. It doesn’t really matter what you promise yourself, because the point is to build consistency in following through. Sometimes that might mean holding off on instant gratification. While you’re waiting for your date to arrive, or an important call, if you’re putting off a project or assignment, or anticipating some uncomfortable news, you can learn to sit with the feeling.
Instead of reaching for your phone, reaching for food or other substances, using social media or finding busy-work to procrastinate with, you can find healthier ways to sit with the emotion. You can simply focus on taking a deep breath, slowly. You can focus on what it actually feels like to sit quietly with the emotion and watch it pass by. You could pay attention to your senses, your environment and observe. Kind of like waiting for a craving to pass by. The more you can do this, and the longer pause you can create between you and gratification, the more you build your emotional resilience to uncomfortability.
2.Practise Acceptance. This often comes down to being grateful for all the positives in your life and being able to forgive yourself, and others. Acceptance can also mean considering the possibility that there are no people who are 100% good or 100% bad. Everyone is doing the best they can, with what they know and believe at the time. For me, learning to accept that even if my trust was not treated with care by others, I was capable of dealing with those uncomfortable feelings of anger, hurt and sadness. Recognising that you will not fall apart, that you will be ok in the end, and that this feeling will pass because it’s not forever, can be very strengthening and freeing. And how do you know that it will be ok, that it will pass and that you won’t break up into a million pieces? Because you haven’t so far. You’ve always found a way through. You’re already resilient. You got this!
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
Accept that you cannot control other people’s thoughts and behaviours, the weather or most things outside of you, but you can control yourself and take responsibility for your own thoughts and beliefs and behaviours. Acceptance doesn’t mean letting other people walk all over you either, it simply means understanding that they are where they’re at, and you can choose how you respond. Instead of reacting in a way that might affect you or others negatively, you can choose to walk away, or you could speak calmly and firmly to express how you feel. You might choose to lead by example, and you can make the effort to surround yourself with a positive environment and tribe where you belong. A group who empowers you, uplifts you and accepts you for wherever you’re at in life.
3.Self Respect & Self Love. These two go hand in hand. Part of self respect is letting people know what your boundaries are, about what behaviours you will and won’t put up with in your presence. It’s also about treating yourself with love and care, the way you would with your child or an intimate partner. Connect with yourself, go out on a date with yourself, listen to what your mind and body is asking for and do your best to nourish it. Sometimes you might want quiet alone time, other times you might want to be around people.
Other times you might want to be out in nature, or dancing to loud music or expressing yourself through whatever your personal art is. Maybe you want to be relaxing in a bubble bath or cosied up on the couch with a hot chocolate. Make time for yourself so you can have those special bonding moments. Because that’s what they are. Special moments you get to have with yourself, maybe even get to know yourself more, understand yourself more or simply a way to show yourself how much you care, by giving yourself that gift.
Since I chose to take responsibility for what is within my control (me!) I have been able to leave my past feelings of hurt and betrayal behind, forgive myself and others, and to sit with any uncomfortable feelings that might arise. I now see the world differently and view it as a generally safe place where people are not out to get me, they’re simply on a journey too. It feels amazing, and the best part is, anyone can do it. So what are you waiting for? You can start with any step, and practise following through.
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