How to trust again
21 May, 2023, 8:00 pm
Bula Fiji! Thank you for taking time out to read Bula Vakasaama, a column dedicated to enlightening readers about practical strategies for optimal mental health and mind wellness.
Today’s topic is about giving ourselves permission to trust again after trust has been broken.
Take a few moments and reflect on what trust means to you.
Often, after a string of naming different emotions and experiences that revolve around the practice of trust, we come to two words that pretty much sum up what trust means to almost all of us – safety and security.
Learning to trust again requires you to firstly identify, acknowledge, and understand two things;
- Where do you feel safe and secure?; and
- With whom do you feel safe and secure?
The process of identifying, acknowledging, and understanding these two aspects of your life requires you to be completely honest with yourself. Remember not to confuse love with trust.
Sometimes we may love people, however, we may not be comfortable trusting them.
My personal struggle with trust
It happened when I was four years old. Someone I trusted and felt safe with violated my trust by inappropriately touching my tiny, innocent body.
I still remember the sensations that happened in my fearful heart, the incessant thumping of my heartbeats as though my little heart was going to pounce out of my chest.
The same fear repeated itself when I felt unsafe and terribly insecure at the age of nine.
I was suddenly made aware of my body shape and that it was “fat”.
The words spoken to me came from people I trusted. But that trust shattered and was quickly replaced by people-pleasing and attentionseeking behaviours.
Throughout my teen life I witnessed injustices around me, unable to help those whose safety and security were being violated at the hands of perpetrators who were meant to be the familial guardians of moral virtues and values that they were conveniently preaching but never practicing.
There was immense confusion in my adolescent body and mind about what trust meant, what safety felt like, and what security looked like.
This incessant confused chatter in my mind led me to choose behaviours where I was always allowing others to decide for me.
I couldn’t trust my own judgments, constantly living in self-doubt and not knowing whether the choices I was making were going to serve me or harm me.
My personal struggle with trust continues even today. It is hurtful when I entrust someone with information that is meant to be confidential and yet the person either uses it as ammunition against me to get brownie points in their own lives or to gaslight me into feeling like I’ve done something terrible in my life.
I consciously practise awareness of my surroundings and the people I entrust valuable information with.
I have started to be more selfforgiving and self-accepting that I may not always be making the right decisions or choices but at least I am allowing myself to make these choices and decisions based on my safety and security, not because I feel obligated or manipulated into pleasing someone else.
Giving yourself permission to trust again
Trust gets damaged when your sense of safety and security is attacked. It may happen in your marriage, at work, in your other relationships with friends and siblings.
It may happen with your doctor, dentist, tenant, landlord.
Once trust is damaged, it becomes difficult to trust again. Try these strategies to help you to accept, forgive, and allow yourself to trust again;
- Know that trust happens gradually and respectfully. Building a wall around you and shunning people out in the fear that they may hurt you is NOT the answer. Let go and let in… gradually and respectfully. Do not feel compelled to share intimate details about your life with a new friend. Wait for when you feel totally comfortable, safe, and secure;
- Observe people without judging. Observe how they treat other people. Trusting people who practise kindness is important. People who display kindness will not gossip about others or use unkind words;
- Learn to respect confidentiality. For you to trust others, you must also display trustworthiness;
- Begin to form a soulful connection with God, or the Law of One, which ensures that the universe functions in perfect balance through light and dark, sun and moon, love, and fear. Often, we acknowledge this on a conceptual level, but we fail to really place our trust in this divinely designed balance when life requires us to. If you feel uneasy, unsafe, or insecure, ask God to give you the strength to let go of your fears and move on in life fearlessly. Place your trust in God and steadfastly believe that only God knows you and therefore will carry you to and through every ebb and flow of life that He has preordained for you;
- Make choices with confidence, knowing that only God is your protector, not people;
- Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that your past choices are in the past. Right now, in your present moment, mindfully choose your thoughts, words and deeds with utmost faith in God. So what if you may fall or fail in your choices…you can always choose again. Get up, brush off the dust, and make a new choice. Never, ever give up; and
- Listen attentively to the small, calm voice inside you and follow it fearlessly. Your intuition will never lie to you. Recognising intuition requires constant and consistent faith in God and total abandonment of fear of people’s judgements. Your judge is God, not people. Trust your intuition, that still, small voice.
PRINCESS R LAKSHMAN is a counsellor, clinical nutritionist, writer, narrative therapist, and certified life-coach. She is passionate about mind wellness and an advocate for kindness and self-care. She lives in Sydney and will soon open mind wellness hubs in Fiji to provide free mental health counselling and workshops exclusively to Fiji residents. The views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org