would you define trust to an average
pre-teen? How about "Trust is feeling
you're safe from pain, injury, loss, and
uncomfortable surprises with a person, group,
animal, or situation." So distrust is
feeling unsafe from any of these. We learn on
early childhood that some people and animals are
safer than others.
Think of someone you trust "completely." Does
that mean you're confident of their honesty?
Judgment? Motives? Morals? Perceptions?
Knowledge? Sense of responsibility? Sensitivity?
Reliability? Boundaries? Self-control?
Spirituality? Stability? As you see, "trust"
spans a wide range of personal attributes.
Now think of someone you "don't trust." Can you
identify specifically what you don't
trust about them? How did that distrust happen?
Slowly? Suddenly? Does the person know you
distrust them in some way? How does this affect
Some people trust others until they're
disappointed, disillusioned, or betrayed in some
way. From early betrayals, others approach life
cynically and distrustfully. For them,
interpersonal trust must be earned over many
An important aspect of this topic is trust in
yourself - i.e. steady confidence in your
own judgment, wisdom, abilities, and self
control to keep you safe from pain, loss, and
injury in various situations. Self-trust may
vary with your environment - i.e. unfamiliar
surroundings and relationships may reduce your
self-trust until you evolve some predictability
People who become familiar with the
that form their
learn that some subselves are very trusting,
and others are deeply suspicious and cynical.
Outdated self-distrust can be improved over time using
childhood, you may have significant trouble
Stable mutual trust is essential for marital
intimacy, friendships, and effective parenting.
It's also necessary for effective interpersonal
notice that you distrust the person, and
decide what you distrust;
to say something to them or not about your
distrust. If you choose to ...
Mentally review these response-basics
until they become a habit;
Identify what you feel with this
person - guarded, ambivalent,
frustrated, critical, disinterested,
anxious, irritated, concerned, or something
else. Your emotions point to what you
Identify what outcome you want from your
comment or response. Do you need to
vent, to inform, to problem-solve, to set or
enforce a boundary, to help the person, or
When both of you
are undistracted and face-to-face, get
steady eye contact, and ask...
are you open t some personal feedback?"
If the person
says "No," or "Not now," you have a
Depending on what you need, choose a calm
response like these:
I need you to know that I don't trust you
about (something specific)"
"Since I learned
you lied about ________, I don't trust you
"I don't believe
because I'm not able to trust you
(about ____________ )."
suspect you're often ruled by a false self."
To Give Feedback
"Are you aware
of how often you exaggerate / bend the truth
/ avoid eye contact with me / shut down /
explain yourself / excuse yourself /
generalize / stutter / change your mind /
deny / ________ ?"
"First you tell me you're OK, and then
you say you're depressed / angry / confused
/ sad / lonely. I don't know what to
believe." (This is usually a sign of
you avoid eye contact with me, I lose trust
"When your words
don't match your face / body / voice tone I
lose trust in you."
promise me that _______ and then don't do
it, I lose trust in your word."
"(Name), am I
doing something that causes you to lie / not
follow thru / break your word / hide things
understand why I don't trust you about
"Do you care
that I've lost trust in you?"
Are you going to
yourself for false-self
"I need to
rebuild my trust in you. Are you willing to
work on that with me?"
To Confront or
"(Name), I can't
have a relationship with someone I don't
"Stop. I'm not
willing to hear / debate / discuss this
"The next timed
you lie / break your promise / don't call /
do (something specific) / I'm going to
(take some specific action)."
"For me to trust
you again, I need you to ________."
the theme of these sample responses (brief,
honest, respectful, direct, specific), and adapt it to your style of
thinking and speaking. Avoiding responses
like these so you don't "hurt the other
person's feelings" or "start a fight" is a
lose-lose decision. Pretending trust you
don't feel is dishonest and disrespectful,
and will degrade your self-esteem and your
"I don't trust
you" is a global judgment which hinders
"I don't trust you about
(something specific)" lowers the odds of
conflict, and increases the chance to do
effective problem-solving together.
Expect the other person to "resist" your
response - i.e. to deny, argue or
debate, whine, shut down, walk away,
explain, justify, minimize, catastrophize,
generalize, blame you, ignore you, plead,
attack, bring up the past, demand an
when s/he does, and then calmly re-state
your original response or question. Repeat
this sequence until you get what you
need or your needs change.
A common resistance is for the other person
to ask you for an example of what causes
your distrust, and then to invite you into a
lose-lose debate - "I didn't do that!" /
"Yes you did." That defocuses you both from
the real issue, and can seduces you into
combative "You" statements vs. assertive
Think of someone in your life that you distrust
about something. Can you imagine responding like
these examples to her or him? How would that
feel? How would the person react? How would this
compare to your usual reaction to distrusting
Bottom line - you have many
communication options with someone you distrust!