Choosing to Trust: 3 lessons I learnt about trust after heartbreak
Over the years we may have learnt trust can be hard, because we have seen it - and sometimes felt it - shatter so many times. How do we let go of our emotional baggage when life has taught us that trusting others hurts us?
A few years ago I was in a long distance relationship – I knew the cliché. I knew the stories of being cheated on, of lies and betrayals and ultimately of getting hurt. And no, it didn’t make it any easier when I found out I was living the cliché everyone had warned me about. In fact, it was breath-takingly painful. And once the relationship was over I was faced full circle with the questions I had asked myself at the start of the long-distance relationship. How can I trust? How can I live in love and trust, instead of fear and distrust?
Throughout the relationship, and the subsequent rebuilding of myself, I learnt three main lessons about trust;
Trust comes from you, not from them.
Listen to your guts and above all, trust yourself first.
Learn your lessons so you can let it go. Do not take your old wounds into your next relationship.
1) Trust comes from you, not from them.
Our ability to trust can be affected from our childhood and attachment styles, and obviously simply our experiences. It doesn’t matter if a relationship is long-distance, short-distance, a whirlwind or an old friendship blossoming into something else. Essentially, if we want the relationship to be a success, we have to start from a place of trust. We never know if we will get hurt, but that’s not the question. The question is, are we ready for love? If we are, then we trust the prospective partner. If we are not, then we won’t.
We all have reasons to distrust – we have all felt betrayal and hurt. I don’t say this to belittle it. I have been crushed from betrayal and know that pain very well. I say this highlight that it is a choice to hold onto this distrust, or to let it go. The temptation is to hold on to protect yourself but trust is a choice you make and there are no guarantees with either option. If you want a healthy, trusting relationship, you have to do your part. Trust has to start with you; much like happiness, trust comes from within you – not due to another person.
Learn your lessons and you will still be able to trust with an open heart – so if you keep falling for people who betray your trust, take time to be single and work on yourself. It is not your fault that this has happened to you but you are aware of this pattern now and so it is in your power to do the inner-work to understand your boundaries and get in touch with your feelings. Through this self-knowledge and self-love, you will get better at knowing who to trust and when to walk away.
2) Listen to your guts and above all, trust yourself first.
Always listen to your guts. Love and trust yourself enough to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and questions. Ask yourself where these are coming from? Are they coming from your head – your past hurts, or are they coming from your guts because you feel something is off. Sit with this, meditate, sit in silence, journal, talk to friends - whatever and however you want to explore this, make sure you do it. Sometimes, we place our trust in the wrong person at the wrong time and hiding from our feelings that tell us this will likely only lead to either us losing touch with ourselves and going a little crazy, or delaying the pain until we are cannot ignore it anymore.
Through my journey of heartbreak I was forced to look at myself compassionately and through this I learnt to love myself vulnerably. I learnt it is safe to trust others but never at the expense of the trust within myself.
3) Learn your lessons so you can let it go.
We often use justifications for our distrust – “I can check their phone because if they are worthy of my trust I wont find anything”. Trust cannot be cultivated through acts of distrust and you are choosing to damage your relationship if you act distrusting. If you find that you feel unable to trust, then ask yourself why. Sit with the uncomfortable feelings. If you are struggling to let go of past hurt you may need to speak with a therapist or counsellor. If it is coming from your gut, go back to point two.
The grass is green on the side you water. Distrustful behaviour is addictive and easy, and trustful behaviour is vulnerable and scary but it is through this vulnerability that love grows.
You may need to rewire your brain through conscious thinking and internal thought challenges; to start, simply acknowledge to yourself when you are feeling an urge to do something you know is coming from a place of distrust. From there you can make a conscious choice about how to move forward and which side you wish to water. The more you choose one side, the more likely you will continue to choose it the next time you are presented with this choice – so choose wisely.
As for me, yes I ended up getting hurt because I trusted the wrong person. Though the journey back to trust was hard, I don’t regret a thing. I look back and I feel proud of the trust I held, how openly and vulnerably I loved and the lessons I have learnt. I realise now that before this happened I was trusting others more than I trusted myself and learning to trust my guts, find my boundaries and trust myself over someone who was actively gas-lighting me was truly life changing.
Once I found my boundaries and learnt how to lovingly set them, I was able to learn to trust myself fully and through this I was able to learn to trust others. At first I was worried I was denying my experience and hurt. I had to learn to let go. We all know that to move on from emotional pain is the healthy road to happiness. And to move on fully is to trust again. When we bring our hurt into our new relationships blindly, we will repeat the same hurts. If we recognise in ourselves what our acts of desperation are, what our actions and justifications are, we can start to make conscious choices. What do we want our relationship to look like? We have to create it in ourselves first, and that means ditching the justifications and having honest conversations with ourselves, with our partners, friends and seeking professional help if we need it.
Trust teaches us to let go of past hurt, so we can more authentically listen to our bodies and our body’s reaction to the present. This will help you to live in a place where your trust is not dependent on others, but rather an internal choice to activate the power in yourself to trust.
Remember, if we know in ourselves that we can be trusted, then we know it is possible that people can be trusted. Then it comes down to listening to ourselves fully so we can find the right people to trust.