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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
significant psychological wounds
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
unaware. This article focuses on
understanding and reducing the psychological wound of "trust disorders"-
trusting too easily or not enough A
companion article on regaining lost
trust builds on this one, as does this YouTube video. The video
mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this Web site - I've simplified
that to seven:
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...
the intro to this nonprofit Web site and the premises underlying it,
With your true Self
guiding you, 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 totrustmy _ 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 ?)
true Self is
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 trustand distrust?
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
Be-spontaneous! paradox. One
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...
they won't satisfy our needs in a way that feels
spiritual intimacy by
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.
For more detailed explanation of the
origin of chronic or excessive distrust, read
this after you finish here.
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."
Shame-based (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). Wemay 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
group of subselves who behave
chaotically to harmoniously. A corollary is that one of your subselves is a
naturally talented leader – your
Self (capital "S"). If
less talented subselves distrust your Self, they usurp personality
leadership and can be called your
false self because they
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...
the wisdom and judgment of your Self and
Higher Power and...
the ability of your team of subselves to keep you “happy” and safe enough day by day.
experience as an
inner-family therapist since 1992 is that each of your subselves
has it’s own level of trust (low > high) in your Self, your
inner family, 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
false-self dominance. Do you know anyone who
denies that a loved one is addicted, emotionally unstable, sick,
self-destructive, or criminal?
fanatics or zealots 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 toomuch.
five symptoms of
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
Blamingourselves 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...
Blamingsomeone 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 anythingabout 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
Denyingor 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?”)
Adoptingand denying pseudo or blind
trust, rather than admitting an agonizing or terrifying loss of faith.
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.”)
Somecombination 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
Self and inner advisors
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...
consistentlykeep 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...
empathize with us, within
their limits. (A D ?)
confront us directly
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 ?)
listen to us 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 feelsafe with you." Another is "I don't trust you to
value me or my needs equally with your own."
Distrust that a
benign (vs. "jealous and wrathful")
affects their lives, guarding and guiding them toward their
long-term good and life-purpose.
Unawareness of, or minimizing or denying trust disorders and other
psychological wounds promotes stress, and degrades personal health,
growth, and key relationships.
Psychologically-wounded parents often unintentionally pass wounds on to
Thus trust-disorders and other
wounds are an individual stressor and a family
problem. Self-motivated progress
Lesson 1 can reduce psychological wounds over time.
trust disorders relate to
five psychological wounds?
They relate In many ways. Early-childhood betrayals
neglect and resulting
distrusts) promote excessive
("I'm not safe here!"),
("I know you love me, though you're never around.");
("You let me down again. I must be worthless.") Extreme infantile distrust,
and fear may block the normal instinct to form
bonds with key people. Clinicians call this crippling condition Reactive
Attachment Disorder (RAD).
This can mean that excessively-distrustful, shamed, and fearful
(wounded) people can't feel, express. and/or receive genuine empathy and love. Common symptoms of this
wound are never marrying, a
series of broken relationships, cyclic
difficulty empathizing and sharing intimacy, "coldness,"
codependence and/or other
fear promotes distrust, and vice versa.
So working intentionally to
reduce worries and fears is likely to automatically improve your range of realistic trusts!
Disorders can Affect Spiritual Health and
Try saying your definition of
''spiritual health'' out loud, and
then compare it to these ideas: "Spiritual" refers to a person's
attitude about, and belief in, unseen entities that affect life on Earth
- like God, angels, and demons. Sociologists report that people of every
age and culture evolve a framework of spiritual beliefs to help them
explain Natural phenomena, including birth, pain, and death.
"Health" refers to how close to optimal "functioning" an adult or
child is at any time. So "spiritual;
health" can mean how well a person's attitudes and beliefs about
"spirits" consistently promote personal, family, and social contentment,
serenity, and satisfying relationships. It can also mean how well a
spiritual needs are
met. Do you believe that spiritual health can affect physical health and
"Spiritual growth" acknowledges that as people age,
their beliefs about spiritual realities "Growth" implies that there can be progress
toward an optimal set of spiritual beliefs, in someone's opinion.
Wholistic health includes steady spiritual faith (trust)
that there is a loving (vs. jealous and punitive) Higher Power who
and cares about our lives, hears us in calm times and
offers wise guidance and
resources (like strength,
resilience, inspiration, and hope) to help us adapt and prosper.
Typical young kids deprived of healthy spiritual
guidance, and/or who are taught to fear
God, Satan, demons, sin, and
"eternal damnation," are
prone to become
believing that the world is a
Reducing psychological wounds promotes - and
benefits from -
growing trust in a stable, nurturing, responsive Higher Self and/or
This growth helps to significantly increase daily serenity and reduce major fear, guilt, shame, and reality
distortions, over time.
+ + +
How can you tell if you or someone else has a "trust disorder"?.
Excessive Trust or Distrust
To assess yourself or someone else for a significant trust
disorder, look for behaviors like those below. Keep in mind that the
real question is whether your true Self is disabled too often.
Choose a time and placed where
you're undistracted and your Self is guiding you. Then check each
behavioral trait that applies to you. Use this as a
checklist now and as you reduce your wounds over time.
__ 1) Chronic ambivalence,
your own perceptions, conclusions, and decisions; and feeling "I can't
help it!" (self distrust)
__ 2) Often
socially unassertive, shy, and timid - having little self confidence
(also a symptom of excessive shame).
__ 3) Being described by others as
"over-cautious," "a worrywart," and/or "too picky."
(distrusting others and yourself).
__ 4) Significant or chronic periods
anxiety (distrusting the world,
God, and your
Self). This is also a common symptom of
__ 5) Constantlyover-researching
decisions and/or consulting others too much (distrust);" or
rarely researching important decisions and making them
__ 6) Frequent
ambivalence, _ sending
double messages, and
_ making firm decisions and/or _ acting on them.
__ 7) Excessive reliance on
other people's advice, vs. trusting your own judgment.
over-analyzing what other people
really mean, think, or feel. (social and self distrust)
__ 10) Usually
being "intellectual" and "in your head."
(distrusting the safety of feeling and/or expressing emotions)
harm or exploitation by
personal information to strangers. (overtrusting)
More common symptoms of the
__ 12) Avoiding conflicts for fear of blowing
up, lashing out, or losing control. (self
__ 13) A
history of significant
(lies and/or broken promises)
by trusted others (overtrusting)
An inability to exchange and sustain true emotional/physical
intimacy - i.e. inability to risk or tolerate
abandonment by key people, despite sincere assurances.
Excessive anxiety about revealing personal
dreams, hopes, fears, emotions, values, and thoughts. Variation: habitually
using vague language and avoiding clear, direct answers to questions.
I know what youre really thinking / feeling / wanting!
a symptom of fear of the unknown).
__ 17) Habitualinability to accept merited compliments
(self-distrust, and a symptom of excessive
__ 18) A history of avoidances and
procrastination despite repeated painful consequences,
__ 19) Reluctance to try new situations, ideas, experiences, and places -
e.g. a "disinterest in travel."
__ 20) Having a reputation as "unusually
conservative," and being uncomfortable with risks and major change.
(self distrust + fear of the unknown)
__ 21) Chronically or rarely
saying "No" to new situations or invitations (distrust / overtrusting);
cynical, skeptical, and
pessimistic may indicate active subselves distrusting that the world and/or most people are "safe and good
religion and spirituality. and scorning religion
and/or faith in a Higher Power as a weakness and/or a crutch. (spiritual distrust)
Constantly needing to explain and justify personal behaviors,
viewpoints, and preferences, when others don't need to hear that.
(distrust of others' acceptance).
Rarely being firm and
assertive, or asserting timidly with significant guilt and
anxiety, and backing down easily (self distrust and excessive shame)
There are other behavioral symptoms of significant trust disorders -
these are illustrative. The more of
these symptoms someone has, the higher the odds they are psychologically
wounded (vs. "bad" or "sick.").
If you're assessing yourself and are controlled by a false self, you're
apt to minimize or deny some of these symptoms. Guard against this by
having someone who knows and supports you review these symptoms with
you to validate or improve your assessment.
If you're too distrustful or
trust too easily too often, what can you do?
Trust disorders are one of
five major symptoms
that your true Self is disabled. Your Self and other
are innately able to decide wisely whom and what to trust, so your
primary recovery goals are to...
to discover which of your Guardian and young subselves distrust
your true Self. Then ...
patiently grow their trust in your
Self's judgment and leadership,
and as you do this...
learn how to identify adults and kids who may disappoint and betray you, and
to form realistic expectations of them.
Let's look at the first two of these goals:
Build Trust in Your Self
Common Inner Child and Guardian subselves that cause
and excessive distrust are...
Confirm that these and any other subselves distrust your Self by
interviewing them one
at a time. Then work with each
distrustful Inner Child, and patiently build their Guardian subselves'
trust in your Managers'
ability to keep your Kids safe This parts-work
strategy gives more detail.
If you haven't recently,
safe, interesting experience of having an inner dialog with one of your subselves. Then return here.
Here's how a dialog with your diligent
subself might go. Get physically comfortable and undistracted, and allot
15-20" for this. Imagine being in a safe, comfortable, undistracted setting, and
breathe easily from your belly.
When you feel ready, tell all your subselves (i.e. think or say out loud)
about to talk with your protective Worrier (or whatever you call him/her)
subself. Ask if anyone needs to say anything before you do, and notice any
thoughts or feelings that occur. If another
subself is nervous or scared about your dialog, focus on calming and
reassuring that part first.
When everyone is quiet, relax, breathe, and ask your
Worrier to join
you in this safe internal place. Be open to anything - an image, thoughts, a memory,
a bodily sensation, or none of these. Whatever you get, focus on it and ask
"it" (your Worrier) if it's the one who is giving you the image / memory /
feeling / sensation / ___, and trust the first response you get. If you get
a "yes" thought or feeling, then have a dialog like this:
S(elf): "Will you
talk with me or a little while?" (Be prepared for "No.")
S: "I'd like to
ask a few questions and get to know you better. Is that OK?"
W: "I guess so."
S: "Is there a name
you'd like to be known by?"
W: "I'm Chaz."
S: "Thank you.
Chaz, how old are you?"
Ch: Uh, I'm 24."
S: "And can you
tell me what your job is now?"
Ch: "I have to keep
S: "Mm. That's
really important. "Can you tell me who you're protecting?"
Ch: "You know, the
S: "OK. And can you
help me know what you're protecting us from?"
Ch: From getting
HURT. That's pretty obvious, isn't it?"
Self: "And what
kind of hurtful things to are you looking out for?"
Ch: "A big one is
getting other people upset with us. I don't want that."
S: "How do you
Ch: "I watch all
the time, and if something bad might happen, I get you to think hard
S: I see. And Chaz,
how do you like this job?"
Ch: "Well, I get
pretty tired. You know, I can't let up - even when you're sleeping.
S: "Have you ever
thought about asking for help with this job?"
Ch "Ask who? There
isn't anyone except that jerk who keeps screaming 'Omigod! We're doomed!'
He always overdoes it. (referring to the Catastrophizer subself) .
S: "So he's no
help. Do you know who I am and what I do?"
Ch: "Yeah. Aren't
you supposed to keep everyone under control?"
S: "Uh huh, that's
one part of my job. I'm responsible for making decisions that'll keep us all
safe and healthy."
Ch: "Well how come
we keep getting into all these jams then?"
S: "Partly because
we (subselves) aren't acting like a team yet. Have you ever been part
of a team that worked really well?"
"No. I'm used to working alone."
Typical dialogs can go in several directions from here. After making sure
the subself (a) understands s/he is part of a multi-talented team, and (b)
your Self is the team leader, you eventually want to ask something like...
S: "So Chaz,
how would you feel about letting me work with you to keep us all safe?
Let me take responsibility for keeping us safe enough, and you advise me
if you think I'm missing something, OK?"
When subselves hear this question, they often get scared they're going to
"lose their job" (importance and purpose). In this dialog or another one,
explain that will never happen, and ask them to try out being an
advisor for a trial period of time. ("Will you try
trusting me to keep us safe?") Expect "resistance,"
and patiently keep asking until you get "Yes."
Over time, have dialogs like this with each distrustful Guardian and young
subself, and find ways to introduce them to each other to grow a sense of
teamwork and group pride over time. Option - dialog with several
subselves at once. Ultimately, you (your Self) can hold
council meetings with all
your subselves to motivate, guide, problem-solve, and appreciate them.
As more subselves discover your Self and Higher Power really DO
keep you all safe, their trust grows, and resistance shrinks. As that
evolves, your ability to trust your own perceptions and judgment (self
confidence) grows. So does your ability to discern trustworthy people and
situations from harmful ones. Does this sound believable to you? Try it!
of us has a unique roster of subselves and a unique history, so this internal
trust-building work needs to be creative, not "cook book." Your Self and
your Creative One (and perhaps a veteran past-work professional) will guide
you to craft your own effective strategy for reorganizing and retraining your subselves and
building your serenity and self confidence (trust).
As you develop self-trust, confidence, and healthy
pride, a related
recovery goal is to...
Reduce Excessive Trust in
Perspective - Typical Grown Wounded Children
(GWCs) are at risk of trusting too easily and being hurt (betrayed) -
repeatedly - because...
they don't know that a protective false self
often disables their wise true Self;
they may be
shame-based, and their
People Pleaser tries valiantly to protect their Inner Kids from rejection, abandonment,
and scorn by being "super nice" (e.g. trusting) even to strangers;
they learned early that saying "No"
caused conflict, anger, criticism, and rejection;
and typical GWCs...
were never taught to identify,
validate, and assert their Rights
as worthy persons; and...
wounded people are drawn to each
other, so their risk of unrealistic expectations, betrayals and
disappointments is high.
If you've felt betrayed, "let down,"
and disappointed too often by other people - specially
childhood caregivers - typical extra wound-reduction goals include...
assess adults and kids for psychological wounds (false-self dominance), and
develop guilt-free caution about trusting wounded people too soon;
intentionally grow your
self-awareness, and pay attention to intuition, hunches and "senses" about who's
trustworthy with what;
denying ("No, I wasn't betrayed"),
minimizing, ("It's not a
big deal"), and
("I was betrayed because...") by retraining your Magician subself to trust your Self's intuition and
retrain your Inner Critic to not
yourself for major betrayals by others ("It's my fault! I should never have trusted _____
to _____"); And...
work to heal your Shamed, Abandoned,
Scared Inner Kids. Connect them to the loving supervision of your talented
Nurturer subself, and bring them to live in the present, if needed.
This will help your People-pleaser and other Guardian subselves
help your Pleaser, Critic,
Perfectionist subselves to moderate their extreme needs to please (trust)
unreliable, deceitful. dishonest, and potentially harmful
(wounded) people, and...
practice identifying your key
expectations of other adults and kids. See if their actions match their
words, and learn to confront respectfully (and praise) where
watch for chances to consciously affirm your own
judgment about whom to trust with what.
be open to selecting a veteran coach you
trust to help you achieve and maintain these goals.
Ideally, s/he will be practiced
Reality Check: Think of an adult or child
who has "let me down," lied too often, or not kept important promises to you
and/or other people you care about. Now review the options above
with this person in mind and see what you're aware of.
Before beginning true recovery, typical
fear-based Grown Wounded Children may perceive that the universe is unsafe and
dangerous. They may reject the idea of a caring Higher Power, and/or have an
exaggerated belief in evil spirits or "negative energy.". An important way
to build subselves' trust in their daily safety is to intentionally...
Develop Trust ("Faith") in a Benign
As a veteran ex-atheist in recovery from psychological wounds for
years, I believe typical Grown Wounded Children (GWCs) have too little or
too much faith (trust) in a benign, responsive, reliable Higher Power.
"Ultra-conservative," "overzealous," and "fundamentalist" GWCs can be said
codependent on their view of God and related religious beliefs and
practices. They also tend to be very defensive about this, righteous,
rigid, and c/overtly judgmental of others not like them ("unbelievers /
infidels / heretics / sinners.")
My personal and professional experience over five adult decades has
been that Self-guided people usually have spontaneous
(vs. dutiful or fearful) balanced faith in, and regular communion with, a reliable,
caring, responsive Higher Power. They learn to give overwhelming problems
outside their control to this Entity, and to trust It to provide safety and comfort in
My related experience is that very few survivors of childhood trauma (GWCs) can
permanently reduce their residual wounds without stable faith in a benign
Higher Power to reliably help guide and protect them. Does that describe you now? Would others who know you agree?
If you identify as a Grown Wounded Child
(GWC) and have too much or too little faith (trust) in a
supportive Higher Power, you have several broad options each day:
give steady high priority to improving your
Self-trust (above), and be open to gradual or sudden shifts in your
spiritual (vs. religious) beliefs (trusts) - specially if and when you hit
respectfully explore which of your subselves
insist on rejecting (under-trusting) or over-trusting a Higher Power. Learn what they're trying to protect your other subselves from, and
patiently improve their trust in your true Self and other Manager subselves.
Be open to - or actively seek - new
relationships and experiences that include wholistically-healthy
(balanced) spirituality (vs. "salvation"). Consider using a
veteran spiritual counselor or advisor (vs. an astrologer, cult leader,
or shaman) to expand your awareness.
choose regular periods of undisturbed quiet
reflection - in Nature, if possible. Option - explore the process
and effects of personal
associate with people with stable spiritual faith (by your definition). Their are many "liberal"
religious communities of such people - e.g.
Unity,Quakers (Society of Friends),
Buddhists, and many others. Know
that all varieties of 12-step "recovery"
AAA encourage seeking and relying on your own Higher
the existence and impact of a resident
Spiritual subself who may act as a quiet mentor and liaison to your Higher Power and other
entities like Guardian Angels, your Higher Self, and/or Spirit Guides.
+ + +
Every personality is unique, so view these trust-disorder
recovery options as suggestions, not absolutes. Adapt
them to fit your inner family, history, and
This article is part of a
series on identifying
and reducing up to six psychological wounds from a
low-nurturance, traumatic childhood. One wound can be called a
"trust disorder" - compulsively trusting too much or too
little. The article provides...
basic perspective about
trust, distrust, and betrayal;
common symptoms of trust
suggestions for reducing
them using "parts work" (inner-family
Pause, breathe, and reflect: why did you read this
article? Did you get what you needed? If so, what do you
need now? If not, what
do you need? Who's
answering these questions - your wise
true Self, or