"We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone—but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy." - Walter Anderson
Merriam Webster dictionary defines trust as the "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something" and "one in which confidence is placed."
But unfortunately, trust can be broken in many ways. We may have been betrayed, mistreated, lied to or hurt by someone such as a partner, family, friend or colleague.
Instead of developing mistrust only for the person who hurt us, we often begin to be suspicious of every person from that point on. To protect ourselves and avoid getting hurt again, we carry our unpleasant memories of that original person with us and displace the distrust onto other relationships.
Sometimes it only takes one person to determine that nobody is in fact trustworthy. In the process, we often lose trust in ourselves—simply because our judgment of the person or circumstance was incorrect—and we then wonder how we can believe our own judgment. As a result, we might close our hearts, repress our emotions, and walk around numb or suspicious in relationships.
The problem is, we need to be able to trust in order allow ourselves to fall in love and to feel loved. Yes, we can live our life by carrying our hurt everywhere we go... but not without consequences. The consequences of not trusting (and therefore not feeling) may hurt others who were not responsible for our pain and may deprive us of feeling loved and experiencing emotional wellness. This eventually leads to loneliness, depression, and relationship difficulties.
The first step to recovering our sense of trust is to learn to trust our own judgment and feelings again.
The following is a somatic exercise to learn increase trust in yourself:
- Sit or lie down so that you are comfortable and in a safe place.
- Now, how can you make it even more comfortable? Get a blanket, a pillow... whatever will make you feel relaxed and content.
- Once you are settled, ask yourself: "How do I know this is comfortable?" This might appear to be a silly question, and perhaps even confusing. However, it is an important one in increasing your skills of building trust.
- Continue to explore what sensation you feel that you recognize as comfort. For example, you might think, "I do not feel any pain," "I breath easily," or "I feel relaxed."
- You might be anticipating that this feeling won't last, which is true. We can't control or grasp on to this pleasurable feeling. It's only important that you are in the present moment right now, not drifting into thoughts of the future or the past. Thinking of the future can create anxiety; thinking of the past can create depression.
- Remain aware of any sounds, the temperature, the light, and your physical sensations. Can you let yourself simply enjoy the moment?
You can practice this exercise for as long as you prefer and as time allows you. Just keep checking in with your level of comfort. What feelings indicate that you are comfortable? With time, you may start to trust your feelings again.
When you start to say to yourself; "I trust myself," you begin to restore faith in your judgment of others and situations, and as a result, you open your heart to love, joy and feeling safe again.
© Susanne Babbel Ph.D. MFT