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Having trust issues?

Trust is an interesting concept, in that a great deal of people think they have problems with trusting others.  But is that true?  In order to answer that question, one would need to understand what these people’s definition of trust is.  Well, I can’t speak for others, but I suppose what most people associate with trust is the ability to know that one can have confidence in another person’s honour and integrity. Honour and integrity however, are quite significant and generic concepts in their own right, so where does that leave us?

I don’t think it’s going to be very helpful for you if I give you a linguistic discourse on trust.  Instead I tell you what trust is all about in the psychological context.  It is true that trust is about integrity.  That means that we rely that the other person does “the right thing by us”, be it our parents, our children, colleagues, friends and last but not least our partners.

In most cases i.e. relationships, trust as a whole is not really even relevant. If you think, in most of our interactions with people, whether it is in the context of work, leisure, general living situations, there are already pre-existing structures that safeguard us.  For example, if it states in my contract that I get paid a certain salary, or am entitled to certain number of days off, or if I have a mortgage deal, or tenancy contract and many other situations, then everything is regulated, hence there is no need for trust.  What is relevant in these situations is an element of good will rather than trust.

Where trust really comes into the picture is within our significant and close relationships.  A lack of trust is commonly based on the person’s experience.  Someone who has repeatedly experienced betrayal and deceit, is very likely to be distrustful of others.  Another common reason is, low self-esteem and insecurity.  Someone who does not feel worthy of love for example, will never believe that their partner, or their friends love them.  So what can you do about it?

In the first case, the answer is not to continue distrusting.  You have to make sure, you have learned from those past experiences, and moving forward, you keep separating the past from present and judge everyone on their own merit, rather than tarring everyone with the same brush.  In the second case, if distrusting is a consequence of low self-esteem and worthiness, then I would advise you to explore that within a professional context, as it is likely to be tied into more deeper rooted issues.

In general, the most important thing to remember is that trust is a precious commodity. It is not something that can be expected or just given!  Trust can only be earned over time!!

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CMK Psychology
Elisabeth Robson
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London W1G 9PF
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