Learning to Trust Again

There are two types of people in the world — those who trust everyone until it is proved that they can't be trusted, and those who trust no one until it is proved that they can be trusted. The former are the most likely to be hurt, betrayed, and dismayed.

If you are a trusting person, you know how easily hurt can come. You put your heart and soul out on the table for everyone to see. You give of yourself and disclose things about you that are personal and sometimes private. You do so with open arms hoping that others will take your rare gifts and use them to create good. Then, wham! Betrayal. How could they do that? you ask yourself. How could someone take my deepest fears or most honest love and see it as expendable?

Forgiveness cannot involve tradeoffs. You must forgive completely without the promise of retribution. To say, “I'll forgive you if …” is as useless to your quest for healthy self-esteem as not forgiving at all.

Learning to trust again after being betrayed is one of the most difficult aspects of being human. It is like being a severely wounded soldier and walking haggardly in front of the stern enemy, empty-handed, arms extended toward them, and pleading for a cease-fire. However, you know that trust is essential for forgiveness and healing. It is essential to the interpersonal process. It is essential for you to be able to move on. It is essential for healthy self-esteem.

Trust involves risk, and retrusting involves even greater risk. It means putting yourself “out there” again, sometimes with the same people who betrayed you in the first place.

Trust is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you let others know that you have full faith in them and trust them in earnest, they are less likely to betray that trust. Don't be afraid to say to a person, “I trust you completely. I have faith in you.”

In order to forgive and make peace with those who have hurt you, you must learn to trust again. The following steps can help you in restoring trust:

  • Talk openly and honestly about your pain.

  • Ask why the person betrayed your trust.

  • Express your intentions to trust again.

  • Start with something small and less significant.

  • Be a person worthy of trust.

  • Establish and communicate the ramifications of future betrayal.

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