I hope you’ve been feeling loved and supported lately and if not, I hope you feel that way soon. I see you. I’ve been there, too.
Today, I’ve been thinking about trust, particularly the scene in Disney’s Aladdin where he asks “Do you trust me?” and Jasmine replies “Yes.”
What must it be like to so easily answer that question with yes? For those of us for whom trust doesn’t come easily, the instant response is more often no, hell no, or laughter followed by a no.
Of course, there are usually at least a few people in our lives for whom we can easily answer “yes” but it’s often only easy when previous situations in the relationship show the ongoing presence of support, understanding, and reciprocity.
I have a friend who frequently mentions she has deep trust issues which make it hard for her to form new relationships. I completely understand her fear and wariness and I also see that she feels frustrated with and trapped by her fear. While I don’t feel ~fully~ trapped by my own fear to the same extent, I definitely have had similar moments more often than I care to count.
From childhood onward, I know I remain painfully shy and introverted, and that already makes it difficult to make new friends. My own history of misplaced trust, which resulted in hurt feelings and lessons learned, could easily make me want to avoid new relationships entirely. Have you had thoughts like that from time to time, too? Honestly, some days the fear and wariness still get the better of me, but I try very hard – very, VERY HARD, to believe in the good of others. To believe it is safe for me to trust and try again. To have faith in the kindness of others as I have faith in my own. It’s not easy, obviously. It takes a lot of work and reminders to self and baby steps when it comes to letting my walls drop.
I remind myself: “This person is not that person and it is unfair to hold them accountable for the actions of others.” I pay attention to when I find myself comparing a new person’s actions to patterns I’ve experienced in the past. I observe and I ponder and I weigh the current facts against triggered memories. I freely admit I’m still overly cautious, too, but I’m working on being a better communicator, so I’ve been trying to make sure I discuss “red flags” when they arise. “Hey, when this happened/was said, I took it as _____. Is that what you meant?”Or “I could absolutely be interpreting this wrong, but when you said ___, I heard it as ____. Am I interpreting this correctly?”
Honestly, just from a calming anxiety standpoint, this willingness to stop myself from “mind-reading” by instead just asking what was meant or if I’m taking things the wrong way has been huge in terms of helping me feel less like “EVERYTHING is ALWAYS my fault” because obviously not EVERYTHING is my fault and while there are situations where I’ve been at fault, it isn’t ALWAYS my fault. It has also been helpful to catch myself when I have thoughts of “Why is this happening TO ME?” It’s not ALWAYS happening TO me, it’s often just happening. The situation can suck, can be hard and unfair and painful, but that doesn’t always mean it is happening to me. These pauses to check in my own interpretation of events have been helpful in allowing me to feel more secure and safe in my existing relationships and I’m hopeful they will continue to help me in future relationships as well.
I can’t claim to have the right answer when it comes to trusting others. I know I’ll probably still place trust in people that I shouldn’t from time to time, but that’s okay. I’ve learned from past relationships and I’ll learn from current and future ones as well. I’m just at the point right now where I’m working on being more open to opportunity, to expanding my circle of friendships and finding my place in various communities. If you are also struggling to be more open and trusting, I promise you aren’t alone and it is absolutely okay to be exactly where you’re at in terms of trusting others. I am choosing to have faith that you and I will both continue to find other friends and chosen family on this path we’re walking. I hope that someday, hopefully not too far distant in the future, we’ll feel safe and strong enough to trust that in any situation we’ll be okay because above all else, we’ll trust ourselves (I know, I’m still working on that one too – progress is slow but progress is progress).
Wishing you well today and always,