March 19, 2014
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting distracted and lost.
This is one of a series
of articles In Lesson 1 in
this ad-free self-improvement Web site - free your
to guide you in calm and conflictual times, and
The scope of U.S. social problems
like divorce, addictions, obesity, welfare, crime, homelessness, abortions, and
"mental illness" suggests that well over half of typical adults are
This article focuses on
understanding and reducing the psychological wound of "trust disorders"-
trusting too easily or not enough A
companion article on
trust builds on this one.
A "trust status check"
Q&A about trusting and distrusting
options for identifying and
reducing "trust disorders," and...
options for improving
self-trust and trustworthiness,
This article assumes you're familiar with...
With your true Self
get undistracted and meditate on these statements.
true, F = false, and "?" = "I'm not sure," or "It depends
I know all I need to know about trust
now (T F ?)
_ clearly define trust, and _ explain where it comes
from (T F ?)
I can name at least 5 things I need to
trust about myself now (T F ?)
I trust myself to handle most situations
well-enough now (T F ?)
Awareness of my trust in _ myself, _
other key people, and _ a Higher Power is usually a high priority for me (T F ?)
I solidly trust that the world is a safe
enough place. (T F ?)
was encouraged to trust my _ competence, _ perceptions, and _ decisions as a child. (T F ?)
steadily trust in a benign, responsive
Higher Power now. (T F
I trust my
_ mate, _ parent/s, _ sibling/s, and _ children enough at this time. (T F ?)
know how to handle personal betrayals effectively now. (T F
have never betrayed any important adult or child. (T F ?)
I’m clear on my options for regaining
lost trust now (T F ?)
I’m comfortable enough talking about trust
problems with other people now (T F ?)
I can describe clearly why I’m reading this
article. (T F ?)
guiding my personality
now. (T F ?)
Pause and notice
your thoughts and feelings now.
Then review these basic ideas with the open mind of a student...
undistracted, meditate, and try answering these questions out loud, as though to a
What are trust
How does trust in someone or something originate?
How is trust lost?
How do most people react when
it's lost? How do I react?
Which of my subselves determine who and what
I trust - or distrust?
pseudo and blind trust?
adults and kids need to trust
in each other?
What is a
How does excessive dis/trust
relate to the other five psychological wounds?
excessive dis/trust affect
health and growth?
How does this dis/trust
wound relate to false-self formation?
What did you just learn?
compare your answers to these:..
an adult you totally trust. Then identify someone you distrust. What’s
the difference between those people? I propose that
trust is an automatic (semi-conscious) judgment, attitude, and expectation adults
and kids make about ourselves and others, starting in infancy. It is powered
by our primal need for safety - i.e. our instinctive drive to avoid
pain and injury.
People who have
consistently "sound judgment" and who have never been betrayed (had their trust "broken")
worry much about trust. Do you know anyone who hasn't been let down, lied
to, misled, cheated, disillusioned, back-stabbed, conned, used, manipulated, or
betrayed by someone important to them? By God? By an organization? Would
some adult or child say that you've done any of those to them?
Complete trust says "I
can absolutely count on someone or something) to be or act in a certain way
that affects my physical, emotional, or spiritual security." For
example, I trust that the
sun will rise tomorrow (again) to warm and light my world, and that there will (again)
be oxygen enough for me all day.
primal need for safety, our language includes
many trust-related words like (un)reliable, confidence, (un)faithful, assurance,
pledge, promise, (un)trustworthy, contract, reliable, reliance, vow, promise, (un)certainty, doubt, (un)sure, betrayal,
worry, cynic(al), skeptic(al), pessimism, and (dis)honesty. Our laws
trust in each other and organizations, partly by threatening significant pain to those who
break legal or ethical promises.
Trust in ourselves,
each other, and the universe varies in degree and scope. I can trust you to
make a delicious omelet, but not to always tell me the truth about your
spending our money. I can trust myself to drive a car without crashing, but
not to always remember your birthday.
Trust and distrust are ultimately a measure of faith about how we or another
will behave in a predictable way. Paradox - "I
trust that I can't trust you about _____"
Trust may be granted until it's
broken. Otherwise, it can
only grow naturally, if conditions are right, over significant time.
Like love, respect, interest,
and bonding, Trust cannot be requested, demanded, decreed,
bought, or bartered for. "You should trust me" is a
implication is: if you and/or an adult
or child have lost trust in
the other, it may not be possible to
rebuild it "well enough" for both people. Time, motivation,
and behaviors will tell.
What is distrust?
As we newborns
experience significant discomforts (unmet needs), distrusts begin to form. Paradoxically, distrust
is trusting that something or someone is unsafe - i.e. that...
blocking us from revealing our true thoughts, feelings, and needs. Chronic suspicion
and jealousy suggest a significant trust disorder - i.e.
false-self dominance in one or all people involved.
Here it means
"expecting someone (including our
ruling subselves) to fill important needs, and finding that they don't." The most agonizing betrayals (e.g.
parental neglect and marital
affairs) are those which send the glaring public message "I
don't care about you or your welfare."
(wounded) people are highly sensitive and reactive to perceived betrayals, or
they have learned to
be protectively "indifferent" to
(numb and deny) them because
their childhoods were full of painful betrayals (neglect and
abandonment) they didn't cause,
and couldn't understand or prevent
Where does trust come from?
Pause and try answering this question out loud. Then compare your idea with
In interpersonal relationships, trust comes from needs + direct experience +
Needs. Our earliest
experience of dis/trust occurs in infancy. We're entirely dependent on
giant adults to know and fill our current physical and developmental needs.
If they do so reliably and effectively, we grow wordless trust that they
value us and want to help us feel safe and comfortable.
If our needs
are met erratically, harshly, or poorly, we grow wordless distrust
about (a) our own worth, (b) the reliability and intentions of our
caregivers, and (c) the safety of the local or whole universe
we age, we slowly become more capable of filling many of our own needs, and
we can become increasingly selective about which other people we trust for
maintaining our safety and comfort. An inescapable challenge is whether we
learn to trust our own abilities to fill our needs in different situations
or not (self dis/trust).
Hope-based trust is faith in something without direct experience with
it. A primal example
is hope for (faith in) an afterlife free of Earthly suffering, and reunion with
God, ancestors, and beloved friends and hero/ines.
Your trusts also come from repeated observations over time – e.g. "In 22
years, Pat has never broken a promise to me." So
is lost, we need repeated experiences, vs. verbal assurances, to rebuild
cases, we start out unsure or
distrusting (doubtful and/or cynical). We may reverse that to some extent over time based on
accumulated experiences: “When we met, I was uneasy hearing that my future
stepson had been recently caught shoplifting, but since our wedding he’s
never done that again.”
Trust also comes from observing what's "normal" in the world, and from believing
reliable sources of
"Pastor Lueking would never lie to me!"
“The mail carrier will never read my
“I trust my doctor to
assess me accurately and prescribe the right
We also assume the
reasonableness of some things: “I trust that Martha will never run for
President, become an exotic dancer, or shave her head.”
Can you think of
other sources of the trust (faith) you have in living and spiritual things
and in Nature?
Who causes or blocks trust?
educational Web site
is based on the premise that normal human personalities are composed of a
chaotically to harmoniously. A corollary is that one of your subselves is a
naturally talented leader – your
(capital "S"). If
less talented subselves distrust your Self, they usurp personality
leadership and can be called your
inexpertly direct your thoughts,
perceptions, needs, and behaviors.
From this perspective,
the question above becomes:
active subselves solidly
trust your Self’s judgment and ability? (self-trust)”, and…
“If ‘you’ (your ruling subselves)
distrust another person (or the universe) in some ways,
which subselves are distrustful, and
(maturing) and reducing psychological wounds ("recovery") are
trust-building processes. They hinge on all your subselves’ accumulating experience that
they can rely on...
experience as an
since 1992 is that each of your subselves
has it’s own level of trust (low > high) in your Self, your
your mate (if any), key adults and kids, and
in a Higher Power. Some
subselves trust more than others. That promotes normal or excessive confusion, ambivalence, doubt, anxiety, and uncertainty.
to build trust in your own judgment and your ability to handle any situation
("self confidence"), your Self will need to
identify which of your subselves are distrustful, and work with them respectfully to
change their beliefs. Another implication:
rebuilding lost trust in another person requires you to...
be steadily guided by your true Self,
identify your distrustful
subselves and learn what they need,
assert those needs
to appropriate people effectively, and then...
the other person must want to change and fill your
and their needs equally.
other person's true Self guides them, the last requisite
is unlikely. That means that
it may not be possible to regain lost trust. Note what your
subselves are “saying” now –
i.e. notice your thoughts, images, and feelings.
pseudo and blind trust?
Have you ever experienced a
(like "I love you. You disgust me!") from
someone? These are common signs that different subselves in us have
different opinions, motives, perceptions, and needs. Another common symptom is
making superficial (vs. core attitude) changes like dieting earnestly, and
then regaining the lost weight - over and over again.
the same way, some of your subselves may trust your Self and
certain other kids and adults, and some don’t. That causes
pseudo trust: declaring or acting like
you trust, but your actions imply you don’t (a double message). For instance, you may say
sincerely “I trust that you love and need me,” and suffer episodes of
feeling unloved and unimportant.
widespread psychological wound is excessive
like denial. Pseudo trust results from some
well-intentioned subselves protecting you from the pain of admitting you
can’t trust someone or something, or that you’re unable
to trust wisely in general (self distrust).
A similar phenomenon
is blind faith or trust:
rigidly avoiding or ignoring facts and experiences that clearly say to other
knowledgeable people “you’re trust is misplaced.” Blind faith is an example of
rigid black/white thinking,
which often indicates
Do you know anyone who
denies that a loved one is addicted, emotionally unstable, sick,
self-destructive, or criminal?
among the people you know? How
optimists"? Such cases imply that there are ruling
subselves who cannot tolerate the pain of facing that trust (security) in some
precious person, perception, or concept is not justified. Restated:
it’s possible to trust too much.
early-childhood trauma is “trust
distortions”: i.e. not trusting safe people or a reliable Higher Power, or
repeatedly trusting unsafe people and getting betrayed. Either way, the
primary (underlying) problem is unawareness of a disabled true Self and
these psychological wounds.
How is trust lost?
Can you recall
having significant trust in a person, group,
or belief, and losing it? Do you remember how that happened? The most memorable
trust-losses are sudden traumatic discoveries ("betrayals"), like learning that a mate is
having an affair, using drugs covertly, has a terminal illness, or is
molesting a child. These are shattered expectations, which may or may not have
been justified originally.
Distrust can also grow from unremarkable events that accumulate
over time. We grow hunches or feelings that “something’s
not right here” without clear or dramatic evidence. This can come from a
trusted person’s need to hide deceitful or shameful behaviors, and/or our need to
hide from the painful reality that the other person is not who we thought they
were (or need them to be). Distrust can also come from significant social or
environmental events that we never experienced or expected.
had hundreds of couples-therapy cases where
one or both partners had gradually lost trust in the other, and/or lost faith
that their relationship could survive. Do you know anyone like that?
How do we react when trust is lost?
Each of us develops a
strategy for reacting to lost trust. Do you know what your strategy
is? See if you recognize it among these:
Avoiding full trust in the first
place, and pretending this isn’t true.
Distrusting your own perceptions and
emotions, and/or your ability to trust appropriately.
Generalizing. “All females / males /
gypsies / (etc.)
are basically conniving, selfish, and deceitful.”
Minimizing, denying, pretending, or
explaining lost trust without much feeling. Related
false-self strategies are emotional numbing, and self-comforting via
Blaming ourselves and not seeing a
partner’s half in losing faith (“If I had been a better sexual partner,
Jamie wouldn’t have had the affair.”) This can manifest as feeling guilty and/or ashamed for choosing an untrustworthy partner, or
for losing faith in them. Or your strategy may be...
Blaming someone else for our
loss of trust, and denying our half of the action. (“Your sexual affair proves
you’re a morally weak, corrupt person.”) This may be embellished by
choosing a comforting martyr or
Acknowledging lost trust, and not
doing anything about it – i.e. ignoring the needs that
creates, and/or avoiding scary confrontations and other choices required to
fill those needs (“Marian, if you forget to fill the tank one more time, I’m
going to ask you for your ignition key.”) A major case of this is not
grieving our loss. (“I’ve got too much to do to be sad, these
Denying or not seeking patterns in the
trusts we form or lose, over time (“It’s too weird: I’ve picked three
dishonest partners in a row. Am I under some curse or spell?”)
Adopting and denying pseudo or blind
trust, rather than admitting an agonizing or terrifying loss of faith.
“Getting depressed” –
calling healthy grief over lost trust "depression," and perhaps seeking medication or
therapy for it. Another strategy is...
“Anxiety attacks” – focusing on the
effects of lost trust (less security), rather than the cause/s, and taking
responsibility for healthy reactions.
Admitting lost trust without blame, (b) learning from it, (c) assessing
current needs, and (d) acting responsibly and compassionately to fill
them. (“Carlos is terribly
wounded and in
denial. He wants to tell me the truth, but his false
self often won’t let him. He’s not in a place yet to recognize and change
that. I can’t
control that, and I need a partner I can trust.”)
Some combination of these, and/or
What do you notice
about these responses to lost trust? What I notice is that
last one is
wholistically healthy, and the others imply a disabled true Self. Recall that the
core benefit of trust is feeling safe from pain, injury, loss, and/or overwhelm. Your true
are competent to adapt to lost trust, and rebuild securities if your
other subselves will trust them to do that.
What do adults and kids need
See how you feel about this summary, point by point: We each need to
our own judgment (i.e. our true
Self), our competencies, our intrinsic human worth, and our
perceptions. (I Agree / Disagree / It depends on...)
that there is purpose and meaning to our
life, despite periods of doubt and "failure." (A D
that adults and kids are
basically good, and that life on Earth is usually safe enough.
(A D ?)
And we each need
to trust that other people want to...
consistently keep their promises
to us. (A D ?)
respect our needs, opinions, habits, and beliefs equally with
their own, even if we conflict. (A D ?)
affirm and encourage us in troubled
times, vs. ignoring, criticizing, or abandoning us. (A D
tell us their truth, or tell us they don't
feel safe doing so, and why. (A D ?)
accept us for who we are, rather than
how we look, sound, or behave. (A D ?)
respect (vs. agree with) our choice
of friends, activities, and
(A D ?)
be honest with themselves and us in
important matters. (A
And we each need to trust
other people to want to...
with us, within
their limits. (A D ?)
when they need to, in a loving, empathic (vs.
shaming, insensitive) way
(A D ?)
respect our limits and
including times we need privacy and solitude.
(A D ?)
empathically, vs. fix us (solve my problems),
when we need to vent. (A D ?)
seek compromises when
we differ on important matters. (A D
appreciate our personal talents and limitations.
(A D ?)
be respectfully direct and assertive
with us, rather than aggressive or submissive. (A D
balance our flaws and mistakes with the
good in us. (A D ?)
(add your own trust items)
summary is suggestive, not comprehensive. Change or add any items to
make this more complete and relevant for you. Note that this
trust-items related to mates, kids, relatives, friends, possessions, Nature,
assets. Special social roles and relationships - like mate-mate, parent-child,
and employer-employee merit unique trust items.
above is a chance for betrayal (broken trust) or
relationship satisfaction and security.
Note the key phrase …want to…” If someone
provides trusts like these out of duty, guilt, shame, or fear, instead of genuinely
wanting to, would that fill your needs for trust?
implication of this inventory is “I
don’t trust you” can have many meanings. One is "I don't feel
safe with you." Another is "I don't trust you to
value me or my needs equally with your own."
With the above background, new we can explore...