the healing of trust: overcoming fears to build fulfilling relationships

mm
By: Sophie Parienti
Sophie Parienti's journey into the world of art, media, and communication began with her foundational education in France. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the prestigious ...
Edited date: April 15, 2023Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly guarding your heart, afraid to give yourself entirely to someone? I know I have. It’s a painful feeling, the fear of being betrayed or hurt by someone you’ve opened up to. So many of us struggle with trusting others and entering into relationships with that deep-rooted sense of distrust.

But what are the consequences of this constant state of vigilance? It can be exhausting and draining and ultimately rob us of the joy and fulfillment of deep, meaningful connections with others. I’ve seen it firsthand, and it breaks my heart.

That’s why I want to explore these questions with you today. Together, we can dig deep, uncover the sources of our fears and doubts, and find ways to release them. We can create a space for extraordinary love and relationships to enter our lives, unencumbered by the weight of our past experiences.

So let’s dive in and discover how to free ourselves from the chains of doubt and fear and open ourselves up to the magic of true love.

Understanding the fear of trust in relationships

How childhood shapes our relationship to trust.

Our childhood experiences, particularly our relationship with the people responsible for our emotional and financial security, can profoundly impact how we build relationships with others. If we feel insecure or neglected as children, we may struggle with trusting others in our adult relationships.

In some cases, this distrust may be directly borrowed from our parents. If our parents were overly protective or constantly warned us to be wary of others, we may internalize this mistrust and apply it to our relationships. As young children, we naturally trust those around us, but if our parents instill a sense of distrust in us, it can become a part of our personality.

On the other hand, if our primary needs were consistently met as children, we may need help to trust others to meet our needs as adults. We may find ourselves constantly on guard, afraid to let others get close to us, and hesitant to rely on others for emotional support.

Recognizing that childhood experiences can shape adult relationships, but they don’t have to define them is a significant step. With awareness and effort, we can work to overcome our trust issues and build healthy, fulfilling relationships with others. It may involve seeking professional help, practicing effective communication such as Non-violent Communication (NVC) and conflict-resolution skills, and learning to let go of past hurts and fears.

How Life Experiences Impact Trust in Relationships

When a parent fails to keep their promises, a spouse abruptly ends the relationship, a co-worker betrays us, or a family secret is revealed, it can be a traumatic experience that can significantly weaken our trust in others. This disillusionment can be even more pronounced for individuals who have idealized their relationships and placed blind faith in the other person, mainly if they’ve carried this belief from childhood into adulthood.

The development of mistrust in the other person often follows a pattern: past hurts lead to a lack of trust in the present and a fear of being hurt again in the future.

Yesterday: You hurt me.

Today: I can’t trust you.

Tomorrow: Because tomorrow you will hurt me again.

This cycle can cause the distrustful person to become guarded and closed off, protecting themselves from their emotions and depriving themselves of the opportunity to experience relationships in a more positive and fulfilling way.

For some individuals, this fear of trusting others can become so intense that it’s classified as a phobia known as pistanthrophobia. Those with pistanthrophobia have an irrational fear of trusting others and are convinced they will be betrayed or hurt in their relationships.

Therefore, we must recognize past experiences’ impact on our present relationships and work towards healing and growth. 

By acknowledging our fears and taking steps to address them, we can learn to trust others again and experience the joy and fulfillment that comes with deep connections with others.

Assessing mistrust: understanding and evaluating a lack of trust in others

If you lack trust in others to the point of building a protective emotional barrier, you might often exhibit the following characteristics:

Personality traits: Regarding personality traits, introversion and isolation are often characteristics of your lack of trust in others. You may prefer to spend time alone rather than engage in social activities. Additionally, you may struggle to identify and express your emotions, leading to confusion or uncertainty about your feelings. This lack of self-awareness can further reinforce your tendency to mistrust others, as you may struggle to understand your emotions and reactions to others.

Emotionally: You might hesitate to take risks in relationships. You may struggle to open up emotionally or share personal information with others, even in close friendships or romantic partnerships. Sometimes, you deny or suppress your feelings, as you may fear being vulnerable or hurt by others. This emotional guardedness can make forming deep and meaningful connections with others difficult.

In society: Your lack of trust in others often makes you avoid situations where you fear being exposed to criticism, judgment, or rejection. As a result, you may be hesitant to meet new people or join groups of strangers. Instead, you tend to observe from a distance rather than participate actively in social situations. It can lead to feelings of isolation and detachment from others.

What is the significant consequence of a lack of trust in others?

While a lack of trust in others may sometimes help us avoid disillusionment, it often has negative consequences for the individual. Some of these consequences include the following:

  1. Ineffective Communication: When we don’t trust the other person, it can bias our communication and lead to misunderstandings that harm the quality of the relationship. Communication may need more honesty and authenticity, making forming deep and meaningful connections difficult.
  2. Weakening of Self-Esteem: Not being authentic in communication puts us at risk of not being true to ourselves. Developing a relationship around mistrust can hinder the evolution of each person in the relationship and prevent it from blooming. Ultimately, it can cause us to lose confidence in our ability to authenticate ourselves.
  3. Alteration of Empathy: Without trust in the other person, it’s challenging to consider their feelings and experiences. This lack of empathy can further hinder the development of a healthy relationship.
  4. Increase in Stress: A lack of trust can cause high stress and anxiety because distrust often leads to the need to control our emotions and prevent ourselves from moving forward in the relationship. Over time, this can lead to psychological exhaustion.

While lacking trust may feel like protecting us from emotional risks, it ultimately prevents us from living new experiences that can lead to personal and relational fulfillment. It is constructive and healing to recognize the consequences of our mistrust and work towards building trust in our relationships.

It can involve seeking professional help, practicing effective communication skills, and addressing any underlying fears or insecurities contributing to our lack of trust.

How to Build Trust in a Relationship: Tips for Growing in Intimacy and Authenticity.

When distrust prevents the development of a more intimate, solid, and authentic bond, it’s time to address the issue. Building trust in a relationship isn’t about blindly trusting the other person but rather welcoming the experience as an opportunity for growth and evolution.

Living a fulfilling relationship requires taking risks, which is essential to personal growth. Here are some tips to learn to trust the other person and build a healthy, fulfilling relationship:

  1. Identify the Origin of Your Lack of Trust in Others: By recognizing the source of your mistrust, you can acknowledge that it’s rooted in the past or a particular event that doesn’t exist in the present. It can help you choose not to carry it as a burden preventing you from moving forward.
  2. Trust Yourself: Before experiencing disappointment or betrayal, you may have met beautiful people and been carried along by inspiring relationships. By trusting yourself, you have the instructions for trusting others.
  3. Change Your Thinking Habits: Your thoughts can keep you in fear and distrust and condition your behaviors and reactions, hindering your ability to have fulfilling relationships. To overcome this, identify the ideas that lead you back to doubt and choose positive ones.
  4. Develop Your Empathy: Understanding that the other person may not know how their behavior or words affect you can help you detach from your emotions and generate greater intimacy and compassion.
  5. Communicate Effectively: Talk to the other person about your feelings, needs, insecurities, and willingness to overcome them. Use non-violent communication (NVC) to express yourself calmly without judging or blaming others for what you feel. It can create a more warm and self-appreciating environment in the relationship.

By taking these steps, you can learn to trust others and build healthier relationships. Remember that building trust takes time and effort, but the benefits of a more intimate and authentic bond are well worth it.

Choosing to Overcome Limiting Beliefs and Embrace Opportunities for Growth”

When you recognize that you have a choice regarding the fears and limiting beliefs holding you back, you can continue to carry them around, protecting yourself from potential harm, or let them go and welcome the best into your life.

Your past wounds shouldn’t dictate your present or determine your future. Instead, they should be seen as opportunities for growth and evolution. By giving them this role, you can prevent them from taking control of your life.

It’s natural to have fears and doubts, especially regarding relationships. However, it’s essential to acknowledge and work towards overcoming these feelings. It may involve seeking professional help, practicing self-care and self-compassion, and being open to new experiences.

You can create a life filled with positive and fulfilling relationships by overcoming your limiting beliefs and embracing growth opportunities. Remember, there is always time to change and start living the life you deserve.

I love this sentence from Viktor Frankl“If it is not in your power to change a situation that hurts you, you can always choose the attitude with which you face this suffering. “

Every experience in life, even the challenging ones, can teach us valuable lessons and offer opportunities for personal growth and evolution. By transforming our experiences into positive learning opportunities and approaching them with an open mind and willingness to learn, we can enrich our lives and create space for even better experiences in the future.

It’s easy to get stuck in negative patterns based on past experiences. Still, we can move forward with greater clarity and purpose by embracing the present moment and focusing on opportunities for growth and evolution.

So, welcome your experiences, let them show you what you have to learn about yourself from them, and then let them go to make room for others that, enriched by what you have learned, will make room for the best. Every experience is a learning experience, an opportunity for evolution, provided we know how to transform them positively.

Take the risk of trusting to live (extra)ordinary relationships!