My friend thinks that I have trust issues. Apparently I have walls up and don’t let people in. I admit that I’m not quick to be vulnerable and I don’t open up to people, but is this really a problem? I’ve been burned too many times by people who only care about themselves. Is there anything wrong with being cautious?
Yes, I'm afraid there is. Having a fear-based attitude towards people can create problems. You are not alone in wanting to protect yourself though. Most of us have some trust issues when it comes to feeling safe around other people.
The problem is that distrust can create the following consequences:
1 — People won’t trust you either. Let me explain why. Distrust is fear and fear is a selfish place, where your focus is on you. When people feel your distrust they subconsciously sense that you are only worried about yourself, and therefore, are not worried about them. So, they don’t feel safe with you. There are all kinds of consequences when people don't trust you.
2 -- People will sense your fear (even if it shows up as defensiveness it’s still fear) and they will lose respect for you. Fear in any form is perceived as weakness and weakness is not respected. Real strength (that comes from a place of trust and love) is what earns respect.
3 — You will create antagonism in your relationships. When you are focused on protecting yourself all the time, it triggers the other person to focus on protecting their self. In this state, no one is giving any love and the relationship will self-destruct. You can’t build healthy relationships when you’re in fear. Love and respect can’t happen there.
4 — Distrust creates (and is caused by) self-esteem issues. Most of the time, distrust is your way of rejecting others, before they can reject you. You aren’t rejecting them because they are unworthy though, you are rejecting them because you’re afraid of being rejected and found unworthy yourself. Your own fears of not being good enough are the problem. When you understand your value is infinite and absolute, and you are in no danger of being diminished, there is nothing to fear in other people.
The real problem isn’t that you don’t trust other people. The real issue is that you don’t trust your value and you don’t have the confidence you need to protect yourself in love and strength, by speaking up to those who would mistreat you in the moment. Your fear (lack of confidence) is what makes you vulnerable — not the bad in other people.
Here are three ways you can fix your trust issues and gain real strength:
1 — Work on your self-esteem and value yourself accurately. You get to decide how you will value yourself. That’s why it’s called self-esteem. It’s about how you (self) values you.
You can choose to see yourself as bulletproof and good enough because your value is actually infinite and absolute. Your value comes from the fact that you are a divine, amazing, irreplaceable, incomparable soul and nothing can diminish you.
You can also choose to see life as a classroom, not a testing center, where your value isn’t on the line. If you see yourself this way, no situation can diminish you either. You will feel bulletproof all the time, and let most mistreatment bounce off you. It can’t hurt you without your permission.
2— Learn how to speak your truth with strength and love, in the moment. There are times you will need to speak up in your defense, but you don’t have to do it from a place of defensiveness. Because you cannot be diminished, there is nothing to defend or fear. So, you can talk to people about mistreatment with strength and love at the same time. In this place you are not making them the bad guy nor attacking them back (there is no need for that). You can confidently and respectfully ask for better treatment while honoring and respecting where they are, in their unique classroom journey. Read How to say what you mean without being mean on ksl.com, to learn more.
3 -- Be fearless through trust and love. The dictionary defines trust as: instinctive, unquestioning belief and reliance upon something. You obviously cannot unquestioningly trust or rely on other people. They will inevitably disappoint you, but you can unquestioningly trust in your value and your journey. You can trust that every situation is in your life to teach you something and help you grow. You can trust that your value is infinite and absolute. Trusting in yourself, your value, and your journey will take the fear out of most situations.
Then, you can choose love. You can decide to give people the benefit of the doubt and trust the best in them, while being the best you. If you reject people (by not trusting them) because you are afraid they will reject you. You are actually doing the very thing, you were afraid they would do to you. Think about it.
This is the bottom line — What do you want? Do you want relationships of mutual trust and respect, where both parties feel safe? Do you want people to give you the benefit of the doubt and trust your goodness? Then you are going to have to open up and trust them first.
This doesn’t mean you’re going to leave your doors unlocked or put yourself in harms way. It means you’re going to live from a place of wisdom and love, instead of fear.
You usually get what you give in this world, so, when you put out love and respect you usually get it back. Be wise but not scared. Be loving and strong instead of distrustful, and people will respect you and treat you better.
Hope this helps
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.