How to Overcome Trust Issues
TRUST is the secret sauce of all relationships. Without it, any kind of meaningful relationship is impossible.
And yet most of us have been hurt, perhaps badly hurt, and those scars can make it extremely difficult to trust again.
We know that carrying this kind of baggage will sabotage our love lives, and yet our scars are real. We can’t fake that we’ve been hurt and that we’re scared to open and trust. So what do we do?
Well, if we want to attract lasting love, we have to explore our trust issues with courage and honesty. So let’s talk about this.
Having “trust issues” closes our hearts. This much we know. We don’t dare open up to people and give them a chance because we believe we’ll get hurt again.
So vulnerability is replaced with suspicion, and a genuinely open, curious spirit is replaced with a skeptical, interrogating one.
And people can feel that. People can feel our closure. People can feel our resistance to them, that we’re keeping them at arm’s length.
Jim Dethmer*, co-founder of the Conscious Leadership Group, sees trust being developed through three stages. Knowing these stages, and being able to determine which stage you’re in, is a critical step in dissolving those trust issues and attracting lasting love.
Stage 1: I trust you.
In this first stage, people make trust a function of the other person. This is overwhelmingly the most common perspective on trust. It sounds like this:
- I’ll trust you if you are trustworthy. If you’re not, I won’t.
- If you do what you say you’ll do, I’ll trust you, if you don’t, I won’t.
- If you tell the truth, I’ll trust you, if you don’t, I won’t.
- If I feel you’re open with me, I’ll trust you. If I feel you’re holding back, I won’t.
- If you demonstrate unselfishness, if you show that you care about me, I’ll trust you. If you don’t, I won’t.
From the Stage 1 perspective, trust is a function of other people’s behavior and character.
And from this perspective, the whole issue of trust is scary, even terrifying. When trust and trustworthiness is located “out there,” we will live in fear because other people’s behavior and character is highly unpredictable.
Stage 1 people feel “at the effect of” other people’s trustworthiness—or lack thereof. They are in a “to me,” victim state of consciousness around trust, and thus, their heart is closed and defended.
Stage 1 conveys the conventional wisdom on trust. Most people live and love from this perspective, without ever going to stage 2 or 3, which is why their loves lives are never very satisfying. But make no mistake: Stage 1 doesn’t work. It will keep you single.
Are you willing to explore other perspectives on trust? Are you open to seeing it another way? If so, let’s go on.
Stage 2: I trust me.
In the second stage, people trust themselves. This means that I trust myself to be OK regardless of what others do or don’t do.
This level of trust is directly related to sourcing approval, control and security from the inside. The more I can reliably source these three great human needs from the inside—in a solid, consistent, imperturbable way—the more I can trust myself to be genuinely OK regardless of what others do or don’t do.
I also trust myself to learn from everything and everyone that life puts in my path. Stage 2 people are so committed to curiosity and learning that they see all of life as an opportunity to learn and grow—it’s all an invitation to wake up.
So if a person doesn’t do what they said they would do (a breech of trust for a Stage 1 person), the Stage 2 person sees this as an opportunity to learn and grow. Perhaps we learn more about making clear agreements. Perhaps we learn more about being candid or feeling our feelings or sourcing our needs from within.
What others do or don’t do is simply an opportunity for me to learn and grow. Other people’s behavior is seen as a gift, even though it may be painful.
Stage 2 people, those who trust themselves, have this inner dialogue about other people:
“I trust you to do exactly what you do or don’t do. Whatever you do or don’t do, I’m going to use for my growth and learning as a person. My trust in you is unshakable because I trust you to be exactly who you are and do exactly what you do.”
This approach to life radically changes relationships—but for most people, it raises a serious question.
At this point people usually ask, “If I trust people to do what they do and be who they are, won’t that mean people will do whatever they want and my life will be filled with people who are untrustworthy? Won’t I just end up getting hurt again?”
Fair point, but for the sake of learning consider these responses:
Yes, people will do what they want. But they’ll do that anyway, whether you badger them to be more trustworthy or not. How many people in your life have really become more trustworthy because you tried to change them? Probably very few.
Second, you get to fill your life with whatever kind of people you want. This is a radical idea that most people don’t believe. But it’s true. You get to choose whom to have, and not have, in your life.
Stage 2 people trust themselves, and therefore, relate with people from the understanding that others will be exactly who they are. And unlike Stage 1 people, they relate fearlessly because they want the learnings that all relationships provide.
However, they also choose to fill their lives with people who are equally committed to learning, speaking candidly, keeping their agreements and living in integrity—and they choose not to relate with those who don’t share those values—whether they’re intimate partners or blood relatives.
People who can trust themselves to be OK with others being just as they are usually have powerful transformational relationships.
Stage 3: I trust.
Stage 3 people trust the universe. (Feel free to substitute God, Love, The Quantum Field, Source, Jesus or any of a thousand other words that describe that which is beyond words.)
Einstein said that the most important question is, “Is the universe friendly?” He went on to say that if it is, then about 99% of everything we worry about is a waste of time because most of our lives are spent reacting to the world as though it is unfriendly.
Stage 3 people understand this, not as a belief only, but as an experience in their bodies. They have fundamental trust that the universe is “for them.”
Stage 1 people experience the world as “to them.” Stage 2 people experience the world as “by them” (I create my world because I trust myself to learn from any and all outcomes). Stage 3 people experience the world as “for them.”
In other words, for the Stage 3 person to expand and evolve into the highest state of who they are, for them to wake up, for them to be fully free, for them to experience uncaused joy and the elimination of suffering—they see the universe as being “for them” and they simply trust.
Not in others, not in themselves, but in Life (with a capital “L”).
Stage 3 people who trust the universe to be “for them” have come to this experience through devoted practice. Almost all stage 3 people were once (and still at times are) stage 1 people who outsource trust to others and stage 2 people who source trust in themselves.
Stage 3 people have done the work to change their consciousness from “to me” to “by me” to “for me.” This work usually includes a commitment to some deep spiritual practice over many years.
Historically, meditation is such a practice but there are also many other wonderful practices presented by people like Eckhart Tolle, Michael Singer, Byron Katie, Hale Dwoskin, or Dzogchen Buddhism. These teachers and teachings have led many people to the direct experience that everything is “for them.”
In truth, very few people in our world are trusting from the stage 3 perspective. Most are still solidly in stage 1 and a few are shifting to stage 2.
In my coaching practice, I spend most of my energy supporting people to move from stage 1 to stage 2, for that’s the shift that the vast majority of people need to make if they want to attract lasting love. It’s great fun and the results are profound. But there’s even a more profound way to live life and that’s from Stage 3.
What stage are you operating from and how can I help you shift?
Please reach out to me if you’d like to discuss this or any other topic impacting your love life. I offer a free 30-minute coaching session to anyone interested in how I might be able to help them attract lasting love. Email me at email@example.com or call me directly at 407-687-3387.
Roy Biancalana is a certified relationship coach, a TV personality and the author of two books, the latest of which is the #1 best-seller, Attracting Lasting Love: Breaking Free of the 7 Barriers that Keep You Single. For the past 10 years, Roy’s mission has been supporting single people in the art of attracting and creating conscious, lasting relationships. He offers a complimentary 30-minute coaching session to anyone interested in working with him. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about him by visiting, www.coachingwithroy.com.
* This article has been adapted, with permission, from the Conscious Leadership Group’s February 2017 newsletter, “Trust: The Transformational Secret Sauce of Conscious Leaders,” written by Jim Dethmer.