Whether you were cheated on or your once-best friend fed your secret to the school's gossip mill, you've been hurt and, naturally, you find it hard to move on. Learning how to trust again is important so that you do not miss out on the rewards of new friendships and romances. By listening to yourself while showing yourself the respect you deserve, granting forgiveness and learning from the offense, you can enjoy relationships with others – sans constant suspicion – once more.
Before you can trust other people again, you need to learn to trust yourself. Reestablishing trust is primarily about tuning in to your inner voice, or intuition, according to psychotherapist Tammy Nelson in the Psych Central article “How Can You Rebuild Trust When Your Partner Cheats?” You may find that your intuitive voice gets tangled with your inner voice of fear. Nelson advises that your fearful voice only speaks of those things you don't want to hear – it describes calamities to come. While your intuition can tell you when a situation seems authentically untrustworthy, it is not alarmist and it will also acknowledge the positive.
Show Shame the Door
It is easy to become stymied by shame after you've been hurt – you might blame yourself for being too vulnerable or not seeing warning signs. A necessary step in learning to trust again is to develop what Dr. Brene Brown, research professor with the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, calls “shame resilience.” In her book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,” Brown suggests moving past shame by deciding that others' approval is not necessary and by consciously valuing the courage it took for you to be vulnerable in the first place. Acknowledging the strength it takes to open up will help you feel comfortable doing so again.
Give Up the Grudge
If the pain you experienced was recent or particularly traumatic, you might find it difficult to let go of feelings of anger and resentment. However, holding onto a grudge can interfere with your ability to enjoy the present and connect with others, according to the Mayo Clinic article “Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness.” You may find this process especially difficult if the person who hurt you has not demonstrated remorse. Even so, you can achieve forgiveness by calmly thinking of the facts – including any extenuating circumstances – of the hurtful incident, reflecting on the value of forgiveness itself in your life, and focusing on the ways in which you will benefit from letting go of the grudge.
Evaluate the Evidence
While it's important to avoid blaming yourself for being hurt, it is also helpful to consider what you could have done differently to make things work out better, says Terry Mizrahi, president of the National Association of Social Workers, in the “Psychology Today” piece “How Can You Learn to Trust Again?” If you opened up about something very intimate before you knew someone well, you can take from this the lesson to give a relationship time to develop before getting too personal. If you overlooked red flags about the betraying individual's unreliable character, learn from this also. Even if you feel the desire to secure a connection by revealing intimate details, make sure to vet your new friend or potential paramour for trustworthiness.
- Psych Central: How Can You Rebuild Trust When Your Partner Cheats?
- Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead; Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW
- Psychology Today: The Worst Kind of Betrayal
- Mayo Clinic: Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness
- Psychology Today: How Can You Learn to Trust Again?
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images