Trust has to be a living, breathing entity in order for any relationship to survive. It isn’t an emotion, but a learned behavior that we gain from past experiences. Whether you’ve been stolen from, lied to, misled, or cheated on, there are different levels of losing trust, some more devastating than others.
1. Learn to really trust yourself: If you don’t trust yourself – your ability to have good judgment and make good choices – how can you trust someone else? Once your trust has been violated, your defenses start working overtime to protect yourself. Pay closer attention to your instincts and work on building trust in yourself.
2. Grieve: When a loved one dies, the natural grieving process tends to come in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These five stages can also occur when you lose trust in someone. Don’t fight any of these stages. You’ll usually get through all of them – with time. Forgiveness can also be added as the sixth stage in regards to trust.
3. Stop labeling yourself the victim: If you’ve been betrayed, you are the victim of your circumstance. But there’s a difference between being a victim and living with a “victim mentality.” Some people choose to wallow in the sting of betrayal while others make a real effort to overcome it. If you choose to wallow in pity, you’ll stifle your ability to heal because you’ll end up angry and blaming everyone else for something you actually have more control over than you think. If you can find it in your heart to forgive, then you’ll be able to release anger and hurt.
4. You didn’t lose “everything”: When we’re severely betrayed, such as being cheated on in a relationship, we tend to feel like we’ve lost everything that means anything to us. Once trust is lost, what’s left? Instead of looking at the situation from this hopeless angle, look at everything you still have and be thankful for all of the good in your life. Seeing the positive side of things doesn’t mean you’re ignoring what happened. Instead, it’s a healthy way to work through the experience to allow room for positive growth and forgiveness.
5. Keep your expectations high: Avoid the same types of where your trust was violated. But it’s also important to recognize that just because you’ve been violated before doesn’t mean it will happen again. If you fall into this mentality, not only will you sell yourself short, but you may also throw away the possibility of a new, healthy relationship. Losing trust in someone can have a devastating effect on your relationship, as well as your sense of self-worth, but building trust again is possible. It takes a willingness to work on both yourself and your betrayer, but it’s more than possible. And when trust in a relationship is regained, it is truly healing.
“One error a trust-breaker makes when attempting to rebuild trust with another, is refusing to take full ownership for what they did.” – Karen Wells