Learning to Trust Others
I think we are all born trusting – we don’t know, we can’t speak, we are just learning to think, so it is just how we are – we trust that this thing (parent) will provide for all our needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical, LOVE). Most of us grow up in this atmosphere, and become a trusting child.
As a young child, we trust that grownups are good, and our parents will always take care of us and love us. I remember my younger son, in a waiting room with me and others, taking a book up to a total stranger, handing the gentleman the book and climbing up on his lap. My son was two, he had no fear of strangers, he trusted everybody to be a good person and treat him well.
It is typically in elementary school that children are first, “hurt”, by someone else – usually another child. Maybe it is the first time a child who says they are your friend then says something mean about you to another child. Fool me once shame on you – fool me twice… So, a child may be a little leery of another child who says they are their friend.
In middle school – yikes, it can get ugly. There are just some kids who are downright mean to others, just ‘cause they can be. The people who get picked on (or bullied in today’s terms) learn very quickly not to trust people. The people who don’t bully but witness it certainly learn not to trust the bullies – or maybe they learn to befriend the bully so they don’t become a victim.
High school just gets worse… dating – need I say more?
As we hit adulthood a few of us have come through relatively unscathed, by most of us have some level of trust issues. We’ve been lied to or maybe lied about. We’ve been abused verbally, emotionally, physically, or maybe even sexually. We’ve been let down by the people we counted on most. We’ve taken our knocks and learned the hard way that if you trust someone, you will get hurt.
Some of us turn into our own little cocoons and never allow ourselves to get close to another person, either in love or friendship. I say… we must find a way to trust. Someone who doesn’t trust anybody will never experience true friendship or true love. They will never give themselves wholly to the relationship – always holding back, for fear of being hurt. Someone who cannot trust will always be alone, even in a crowd. They may be seen in that crowd and they may interact in that crowd, but they are behind a glass wall so that no one can hurt them, and behind that wall they are really alone.
So, the trick to learning to trust again? Well, the main thing would be time. Don’t rush into a new friendship or relationship. I have some dear friends I’ve known for a few years now. If I mention something that I don’t want anyone else to know – I make sure I say, “I’m not telling people this” before I tell them. That lets them know that I don’t expect them to pass it on. However, if I didn’t preface it with that, they may tell someone else – and it would be my fault for not being clear about the information I shared. But I certainly didn’t tell these friends my deepest thoughts after a couple of weeks. You’ve got to test the waters some. Start by telling people stuff that can’t come back to bite you. NEVER say unkind things about someone else, as this can often come back to bite you. Give yourself a little bit at a time, don’t give your heart away on a moment’s notice. Lust and physical attraction don’t build trust. Knowing the other person very well builds trust. Trust takes time, but it can be built.
If you want to BE trusted, be trustworthy. Don’t tell other people the things you have heard. Don’t speak badly about others. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t walk out on a relationship and never ever abuse another person in any way. Okay, thinking back on my behavioral learning lessons, if you want people to listen you are not supposed to present it in a negative manner. Don’t run becomes please walk, sounds better, right? So, let me restate the above more positively… Keep what people tell you to yourself. Speak kindly about others. Be honest. Be in it for the long haul. Be kind in every way. How’s that? Grin.
Being able to be yourself around someone and knowing that you can trust them not to tell your secrets, hurt you emotionally or physically, or leave you, gives such a sense of freedom. Sure, when you decide to trust someone you put yourself out there and risk the possibility of being hurt. Take your time and be as certain as you can, but the possibility of hurt is so worth the freedom of trusting another.