Trust is the fundamental base of every relationship in our human existence. Any relationship, whether with friends, family, a significant other, or colleagues, simply cannot exist without some element of trust as a foundation. However, today, trust seems to be much harder to find and sustain throughout a relationship.
Trust issues are common in today’s contemporary environment, and this can put a strain on the relationships we try to sustain in our lives.
Learning how to overcome trust issues puts us in a better position to navigate all the relationships in our lives, from personal to professional.
What Causes Trust Issues?
Trust issues have many roots, but the most common is childhood trauma. Going through a traumatic or negative experience during childhood can trigger symptoms of trust issues.
In fact, it is noted that children who have experienced abuse or have come from an abusive background have a higher propensity to exhibit trust issues later on in their lives.
It is easy to see why this may be the case. As children, we are naturally trusting of others. Unfortunately, when trust is violated, our boundaries are crossed, and we are shown that it was a mistake to put our confidence in another person. As a result, we develop trust issues: we withdraw and are wary of who or what to trust again.
Children of divorced parents
Commonly, trust issues that stem from childhood show a trend among children from divorced families. Children of divorced parents are afraid of being rejected, which leads to a loss of trust. Additionally, the turbulent divorce environment in which they find themselves is unpredictable, which adds to a child’s growing trust issues.
Causes of trust issues in adolescence usually revolve around social rejection from one’s peers. Adolescence is a formative time for us, where we construct our beliefs, convictions, values and try to find our place in the world. When we are socially excluded, criticized, or even oppressed for our beliefs and choices, we may retract, thinking that we were wrong to be confident or trusting of ourselves. This leads to insecurity, and undoubtedly, to trust issues later in life.
In adulthood, trust issues can develop extremely easily. Perhaps you were deceived by a friend, or your co-worker “threw you under the bus.” Maybe your sibling blurted out a secret you trusted them with.
Commonly, a primary cause of trust issues in adults is betrayal from a romantic partner as a result of being cheated on. This causes a massive breakdown in trust and lays the foundation for trust issues for both parties.
It can be seen here that repeated violations of a person’s trust result in their entire ideology being pulled into question and causes problems with placing trust in other individuals or groups.
Organizations and brands
Trust issues can even appear in the context of organizations – such as losing trust in a brand. For example, you may not want to use the same bank that has been accused of fraud or has mismanaged your money.
It is clear to see that trust issues have many causes and are present within ourselves and our insecurities, in friendships, within families, in a professional context, and in our romantic life. However, having trust issues is a normal part of life. There are ways to navigate trust issues, and there are means to rebuild trust again.
How to Overcome Trust Issues?
Learning how to overcome trust issues takes time and focus. We will be covering trust issues in a general sense below, but if you want to focus on how to overcome trust issues in a relationship, then be sure to check this post out.
Acknowledge that you have trust issues
As cliché as it sounds, the first step to overcoming any hurdle is recognizing the hurdle – in this case, admitting that your trust has been violated and that you may have trust issues and trouble trusting others. Alternatively, this process may involve recognizing that you violated someone else’s trust, whether or not it was intentional.
Understand that building trust is a process
Regaining trust involves building relationships, communicating clearly with others, and letting your actions speak louder than words. For example, actually doing what you say you are going to do is an action that builds trust.
Trust is a process, and so the process of building, communicating, and acting on your intentions creates layers and levels of trust with an individual. Similarly, it is important to recognize this when someone is trying to build trust with you. A part of overcoming trust issues is allowing others to gain trust back with you and allowing those that have broken your trust a chance to rebuild that trust (within reasonable boundaries, of course).
Learn to recognize red flags
Without being hyper-critical, it is possible to notice red flag behaviors and steer clear of such individuals before we allow them to break our trust. If we are able to do this, we are able to then fall out of the thinking trap that is, “I seem to go looking for red flags” or “I attract bad people.”
A good baseline is looking for characteristics such as self-seeking or an inability to apologize. Gaslighting is another red flag behavior to watch out for, as it is often a marker for emotional abuse and manipulation. These red flags are indicators that it might be healthier not to try to repair trust in a relationship marked with these characteristics.
Learn to trust yourself
When we think of overcoming trust issues, we often think about repairing the trust between ourselves and another. However, we need to also focus on repairing the trust within ourselves. The more we trust ourselves, the more confident we are in the decisions we make, and the more we can trust others.
Understand that you will feel uncomfortable
Building and rebuilding trust is not an effortless process, and it will inevitably have its uncomfortable moments. Nevertheless, embarking on the journey of rebuilding trust will have a huge payoff for your current and future relationships.
Discomfort is a necessary ingredient to the peace that rebuilding trust brings. Being uncomfortable during the trust-building process may entail you looking at yourself in a different light or viewing another person in a different way than you are used to.
This may be uncomfortable, but the conclusions you reach through this discomfort will allow you to rebuild trust. This also goes for building self-trust – although you may be forced to acknowledge parts of yourself that may make you uncomfortable, accepting those parts of yourself is an integral part of overcoming your own internal trust issues.
Therapy is an option
If you find that you are having a challenging time, there are therapy techniques for trust issues that are extremely helpful. Online counseling is a comfortable and affordable way to seek help. With online therapy, one can book sessions with a therapist like in in-person therapy, but they can also contact the therapist online every day, anytime via messages which can help one cope with everyday situations where trust issues arise.
Know your boundaries
Though overcoming trust issues is necessary and important to our interpersonal relationships, we should never make allowances for unhealthy or abusive behavior in the name of “resolving our trust issues.”
If you ever feel like you are being manipulated to forgive someone when you are not comfortable doing so or feel like you are being made to trust someone given certain conditions, then you may want to re-examine whether it is worth rebuilding the trust of that particular relationship.
In some instances, it might be healthier (for both yourself and the other individual) if you simply walk away. Certainly, do not make excuses for a person who threatens you in any way, should you not forgive them, and do not allow excuses from people who continually violate the terms of your trust. In cases like these, it may be beneficial to ask for help from a licensed therapist or other mental health professional.
Trust is the thread of all our relationships, from personal to professional. Consequently, it is important to build, maintain, and rebuild trust throughout the progression of our relationships.
Trust issues are common and are brought on by many varied factors, ranging from childhood trauma, social isolation, infidelity, or simply being betrayed by a friend.
Unfortunately, occurrences like this are all-too-common in our contemporary world today, and so, we need to make a conscious effort to work on our trust issues so that they do not debilitate us to the point of not being able to form and maintain healthy relationships with others.
If you are struggling with trust issues and find that it is hard to overcome them alone, seeking help from a licensed therapist or online therapy will be extremely helpful.