Trust is a concept that we talk a lot about in therapy. But what exactly is it? Well that depends on the person…
There are many that believe that trust is about feeling comfortable. Others would say it is a matter of sharing secrets and keeping them. Some people consider trust to be about having your words and actions match up on a regular basis. All of these concepts and more are true.
The building blocks of trust are about our belief in another person to be there for us, protect our vulnerabilities, and follow through.
Yet when we talk about how to build trust or how to regain trust, it gets a bit more complicate.
What if you have made some poor decision or have trouble with boundaries and feel like you can’t trust yourself? Well, you start by looking at things that are not emotionally charged. You consider how you trust yourself to get things done, what kind of preferences you have, and how you feel when you are most secure and happy. These types of questions allow you to sort through the process you use to connect with your values. It takes some time but once you start to see a pattern of choice, expression, and authenticity you begin to immediately see how trust is created within yourself.
When you have been betrayed it is hard to know what to do. If you have experienced the acute feelings of mistrust, it is something that can shake you to your core. You relied on your abilities to judge correctly AND a person that you care about has mislead you. It is doubly heart wrenching.
How do you sort through it all? Should you protect yourself or open up again? What if the answer is both?
Being able to refocus on your needs and values is a huge part of the process of trust. You are not just looking at trusting another person you are looking at how you understand your own ability to trust. Consider what it is like to know what it feels like with relationships you do trust. There are signals that you send and that others send all the time that help you understand the mechanisms that you need to pay attention you. You know what are red flag behaviors from another it is about being more consciously attuned to them AND listening when these arise.
Building trust with others can be tricky. There is a balance that has to be created. For a while the understanding that was once a given is now tentative. You need to honestly look at what you need from another person and present it to them. Allowing the other person to know as clearly as possible what you need to get enough time, experience, and commitment helps you know when you are building trust directly. Just saying the words that you want to “build trust” don’t actually do much but stating what you want and need to the person that betrayed you gives you clarity and allows the other person to work towards actively regaining your trust.
TRUST IN THERAPY
There is typically an unspoken notion that you will simply trust the therapist. But why? If you are a benevolent person and typically allow yourself to be open until given a reason otherwise, coming and talking to someone new about private matters can be great. However, if you have experienced trauma, have had others betray you, or are unsure how to trust yourself then this expectation can seem almost too much to ask.
So, I do things a bit different. I ask you to begin to trust yourself, by seeing what you need to learn about if my approach to therapy works for you. You can share as much as you want as fast as you want or as little and slow as you desire. It is not for me to dictate what you feel comfortable with. Therapy is about creating a bond that is respectful and empowering and that can take time for some. Hence, paying attention to your own sense of what works for you is one of the biggest keys towards trust building.
Only you can decide if a specific person is someone you want and/or can trust. It takes time and experience and honest expression to create those bonds of trust. You are worth closely paying attention to so you can make choices that best fit you and your life.
Allowing your internal monitor to teach you… who and what you feel uncomfortable and comfortable with goes a long way.