Do you assume everyone has the same values and moral compass as you? Do you assume everyone has good intentions?
Or do you assume other people are untrustworthy, even though you have no way of knowing?
Whether you are too trusting or more distrustful, this episode is for you. I am giving you questions to gain a deeper understanding of your downloaded trust blueprint, as well as tips to become more discerning about whom to trust.
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
Do You Have Trust Issues?
As humans, most of us have trust issues to some degree. Some of us are too trusting, while some of us are distrusting, almost bordering on paranoia.
Every life experience has the potential to change the way we interact in the world. When our trust is violated, we might project distrust onto others. Repeated trust violations can be devastating and may lead to constant suspicion, which is exhausting.
I fall into the “too trusting” category. In my twenties, I honestly thought everyone had the same moral compass as me, which of course was not true. I discovered this the hard way more than once, and I am much more discerning now.
Trust issues can legitimately block intimate relationships, too.
To change our behavior when it comes to trust, we first need to understand why we are too trusting or distrustful. You can develop this understanding by diving into your downloaded trust blueprint.
Where Do Trust Issues Come From?
I talk about blueprints all the time. You can think of it like an architectural blueprint for a house someone else designed. It is a paradigm in your unconscious mind of how you believe life is supposed to work.
Since our blueprints contain unconscious material, we often go through life unaware of how much they impact how we view the world and our relationships.
For example, if you grew up in a family system where infidelity occurred, you may have grown up thinking everyone cheats.
This childhood experience predisposes you to have a certain feeling about infidelity, and this feeling is individual to you. It’s not like we come out of such an experience unscathed, right? It impacts us in some way.
Questions to Dig Deeper Into Your Trust Blueprint
Let’s start with: What did trust mean in your family?
I grew up with three older sisters and we had trust between us. We protected each other at all costs and lied to our parents or boyfriends to cover for each other.
However, there was infidelity between my parents, and I also experienced infidelity in my young life. These experiences impacted how I interacted in relationships, and in my early twenties, I was unfaithful in some of my relationships.
Why? Part of it was modeled behavior, and part of it was thinking I am going to cheat before they can.
Once I got into therapy, I was able to unpack my trust blueprint and realize what was happening to me.
Think about your childhood: how trusting was your family system? Was trust important? Was it discussed? Did people act in a trustworthy or an untrustworthy way? Were your confidences kept, or were sensitive things shared without your permission?
Was there trust or distrust between the people who raised you? Did your paternal impactors make positive or negative assumptions about each other?
A critical part of your trust blueprint is the adults in your life keeping their word to you. Did your parental impactors do what they said they would do?
Their ability or inability to follow through greatly impacts how we feel about ourselves and how we relate to trust.
If the adults in your life were not trustworthy, emotionally and in actual practice, you learned something about your value- you may have interpreted you were not worthy.
I had a friend whose parents divorced when she was younger. She spent every Saturday looking out of her bay window, hoping her father would show up. Half the time, he did not.
From this experience, my friend learned that people are 50% trustworthy, and she is 50% valuable.
Half the time, she was valuable enough for someone to show up for her.This is devastating for our self-esteem, especially when it involves a parental impactor because they are supposed to value us the most.
If you had a similar experience, you may have become hyper-independent. When you learn you cannot count on others and can only count on yourself, you stop expecting other people to do what they say they are going to do. (Hello, high-functioning codependency!)
These childhood experiences also lead to a lack of desire to be vulnerable with anyone. If you do not feel safe enough in your relationships to show your shadow side, you may have more superficial friendships. This may lead to existential loneliness. None of us want to be conditionally loved. We want to feel loved, warts and all.
Emotional trustworthiness is big, too. Could you tell your parental impactors something in confidence and know they would not tell anyone else?
When Vic and I got married, I inherited three teenage boys. I am 10 years younger than Vic and was a generation closer to the boys. I remember saying, you can tell me anything, but if it is something I need to tell Dad, then know I am going to tell him.
This meant they could confide in me about interpersonal relationships and I would not tell anyone else. But if they told me they were doing drugs, I had to tell Vic.
I wanted to get clear because I knew, even then, how important it is to be a trustworthy adult in a kid’s life. They knew exactly what they would get with me. I worked hard to be someone who kept my word. But I also did not mislead them into thinking I would collude with them and not involve Vic, as that would have been unhealthy.
Another question to answer is were there any breaks in trust between family members or between yourself and family members?
Maybe someone stole money from you or borrowed money and did not pay it back. Maybe there was infidelity between your parental impactors. Or maybe your sister stole your boyfriend.
Trust can be broken in many ways, though a lot of it is not keeping your confidence.
Telling something to someone in a moment of vulnerability and having it thrown back in your face during a fight or being mocked for it later is an example of emotional untrustworthiness.
I invite you to download the guide, which contains all of these questions, to uncover your trust blueprint. Sit with these questions and see what comes up for you.
5 Tips for Navigating Trust Issues
#1: Avoid Self-Trust Saboteurs. These are people who undermine your self-trust– the dream smashers or the naysayers. They are the people who do not want you to succeed. We do not need or want these people in our lives.
#2: Keep Your Word to Yourself. Developing self-trust means becoming someone you can count on. Self-trust means knowing your needs, wants, desires, what you think, what you want, and how you feel matters. And it cannot just matter in theory. Your behaviors need to reflect it.
I invite you to think about the areas in your life where you already keep your word to yourself. Maybe you have a yoga practice you are committed to or have great friendships where you feel safe to speak true.
Give yourself credit where it is due, and then highlight areas where you struggle to keep your word to yourself.
For a self-trust inventory, download the guide here.
#3: Be Aware of Your Inner Mean Committee. Do you have a supercritical inner dialogue running at all times? If you want to build self-trust, you cannot tear yourself down all day. You may not be aware of this voice, but I am asking you to become aware. We want to shift towards kinder language and loving feelings towards ourselves.
Often, the critical voice in your head is not even yours. It is a critical parent, an older sibling, or someone else from our childhood. You’ve internalized their voice, and while you may no longer live with them, their words echo in your head.
Changing your inner dialogue from critical to kind can revolutionize your self-trust and how you are in the world. You do not need to be your own enemy. It is a beautiful thing to have a sacred and loving relationship with yourself.
#4: Treat yourself like a beloved. How you treat yourself matters. Many of us do not consciously think about this, but it has everything to do with how self-trusting we are.
If you tend to self-abandon, people-please, or over-function, you are likely not treating yourself like your beloved, which you deserve to be.
I want you to get real about how you treat yourself: mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. Where are you doing well, and where do you struggle?
#5: Learn From the Past. If you are experiencing a repeating relationship reality with untrustworthy people, it might help to look at this from a therapeutic perspective.
Are there red flags you might have ignored or similarities in those relationships?
To dig deeper, think about a specific untrustworthy person and ask yourself the three Qs:
- Who does this person remind me of?
- Where have I felt like this before?
- How or why is the way I am interacting with this person familiar to me?
To shift your beliefs about trust, you need to gain a deeper understanding of what drives them. Taking these five steps will give you greater clarity and will also help you develop more self-trust. Remember: your relationship with yourself sets the bar for all other relationships you have.
I hope you have the most amazing week and as always, take care of you.