Trust is a tricky thing, and it becomes even more complicated for those of us who have been hurt in the past. For those of us who have ever felt used, lied to, or have found that someone we believed in was never who they claimed to be. Trust is a difficult thing to hold on to after life has given us reason after reason to be skeptical of those around us, and even of ourselves.. After all of this, we begin to associate trust with naivety. Some of us decide that to trust is a weakness; that if we put our faith into someone again, we’ll end up looking like a fool.
How can we learn to trust again without feeling so vulnerable or naive?
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day, and the episode I came across was a lecture by Dr. Jordan Peterson, called “Structuring Your World View”. Before I continue on with this post I want to say that I can not recommend Dr. Peterson’s lectures enough! As a psychologist, he has some amazing insights to share, and this episode in particular gave me the clarity I needed when I found myself in a hazy place. He is one of my inspirations for pursuing a degree in psychology and becoming a therapist.
One phrase that Jordan Peterson said in this lecture stuck with me, and that is “You trust people because you are courageous.”
The reason why I believe this is so crucial to understand is because when I have been brave enough to trust in others and even myself, some amazing things have happened. The decision to trust has undoubtedly led to more opportunities, from forming new and valuable relationships to discovering my own capabilities. Even if it’s intimidating to put yourself in such a vulnerable place, it is absolutely worth it to take the leap.
In contrast, the times where I have been the most unhappy are in no doubt the times where I let a cynical, distrustful mindset take over. That is exactly what has happened to me in the past. I found myself choosing to stay in my inner circle because of the poor experiences I had with letting new people in. Although we begin to see choosing wariness over trust as a defense mechanism, becoming too distrustful of others can lead to a path of loneliness and missed chances. Although I’ve never been on the extreme side of this, I have known people who have let their past hold them back from jumping in to new relationships or experiences. It’s hard to see the people you care about lose faith in others, especially when you know that they how much happier they could be if they would learn to trust others.
That’s not to say that we should put blind faith into anyone and anything, but we can’t keep our walls so high that no one can ever find a way in.
I like to think of it as this way. You may not always know whether or not your decision to trust someone is worth it, but you’ll never know if you don’t give it a chance. If every time a new person came into our lives and we shut them out, we might be missing out on a new great friend, a significant other, or someone who simply enhances our life. Likewise, we will never know what kind of impact we could have made on them, either.
No matter how daunting it may feel to put ourselves in a place where we feel uncertain or afraid, it’s essential that we never mistake trust as a weakness. To trust again doesn’t make you weak; for some of us, it’s the bravest choice we can make.