Trust is fundamental to all of your relationships. Too little, and it colours your vision and taints all of your interactions causing you to live in fear and cynicism. Too much, and it’s like operating blind, deaf, and dumb, running red lights, jumping in cages with wild animals, and being access all areas.

Whichever extreme you’re at will put you in the frontline of people who seek to take the mick by at best taking advantage and at worst abusing you. When you’re distrusting, they’ll likely work overtime to charm you or play mind games where you end up doubting yourself, and when you’re too trusting, they recognise your lack of reality and due care to yourself and exploit it.

Trust is about having faith not just in others but also in yourself. It requires you to have a reasonable level of self-esteem because it means that in being confident and knowing and acting like you’re a person of value that’s worthwhile, you’ll trust yourself.

What does trusting yourself involve? It means that you listen to you, don’t second guess your judgement or deny, rationalise, or minimise what you see, hear, and do. It means that even in the face of discovering difficult information and having to make uncomfortable decisions, that you’ll act in your best interests and suffer the short-term pain in recognition of the medium to long-term hangover that arises when you’re unwilling to trust your judgement, accept the signs, and admit you’ve made a mistake and do something about it.

Trust is also about using past information to form a basis for recognising situations where you shouldn’t be so trusting.

Unfortunately, what many people do is go “Oh, I experienced X,Y,Z in the past so shag it, I’m not trusting anything or anyone because it’s a big bad world out there and there’s obviously something wrong with me why all of these things happened.” The other thing that many people engage in is relationship insanity – having past experience as an indicator of what happens and then carrying the same baggage, beliefs, and behaviours, getting involved with same people different package or similar situations and then expecting different results.

In actual fact, the information gained from past experience is there to help you build up your confidence and judgement because the fact is, we all make mistakes.

We’ve all misjudged people, been too trusting, made decisions we regret, been slow to accept that something is patently wrong for us and at times been naive. Only the deeply arrogant and narcissistic ‘don’t make mistakes’ (read: they do make mistakes but don’t admit it under any circumstances or if they do, they say it wasn’t their fault).

At the other end of the spectrum, people who don’t think they’re ‘good enough’ take mistakes very much to heart. It was recognising that my past experiences, my mistakes, my so-called ‘failures’, my shiver my cringing timbers moments were not the bone crushing, doom and gloom that I had always believed them to be and instead using them as a springboard for personal growth, that was incredibly freeing for me.

It’s very easy to look at things you wish you’d done differently or that have come to hurt you from the wrong perspective – the perspective that traps you in blame and shame, believing you’re not good enough, or feeling wary of trusting yourself in the future.

Fact is, if you have any intention whatsoever of moving forward, you have to take that leap of faith on you and equip yourself to not only learn to trust yourself but to be able to recognise when something isn’t working for you.

The answer isn’t to trust nobody; it’s to roll back when it becomes apparent that your trust is misplaced.

The answer isn’t to put up a fortress but is is about being more choosy about the company you keep.

The answer isn’t to never date again but it is about forcing yourself out of being led by your libido or your imagination and being committed to stepping back or opting out when reality bites.

The answer isn’t to stop trusting yourself because it means you won’t trust anyone. Instead, it is trusting yourself and not disregarding ‘feedback’ from people and situations in favour of trying to be the exception.

The times that have been the most frustrating for me is recognising that I did know that something was wrong and that I let myself down – I can handle bad news now that I know I’m willing to deliver it in a timely manner to myself.

Keep your feet firmly in reality so that you can use the reliability of consistent previous experience combined with knowledge of what makes you uncomfortable, healthy boundaries, and code amber and red behaviour to help guide you.

I have a simple guideline for trust that ensures that you operate with your eyes and ears open, stop, look and listen for any discomfort, and adjust your trust levels and any subsequent interaction accordingly:

Start out with a reasonable level of trust with an awareness of code amber and red behaviour and a solid knowledge of what does and doesn’t work for you etc, and based on what you experience, you either increase your trust (PLUS) or pause (STOP, LOOK, LISTEN AND DON’T PROCEED UNTIL COMFORTABLE) or roll back (MINUS – ADDRESS AND/OR OPT OUT) when you have concerns.

Don’t use blind assumptions to navigate life or pull the “Well if it were me, I’d do such and such” because you will be blinded and bewildered when people act differently. Instead, yes you can initially take someone or something at face value but then you use your interactions and how you feel as building blocks for creating a fuller, more realistic picture.

When you operate with a reasonable level of trust and aren’t giving it out willy nilly, you want to have authentic relationships so you won’t fear asking someone what their relationship status is or making sure that their actions and words match up – you won’t get carried away and will be reliant on consistency.

Yes, you may find that some people and situations don’t turn out to be what you think they were but that’s life – operate with these trust guidelines and you’re unlikely to find yourself discovering that they’re attached after you’ve started developing feelings for or even shagged them. You could only ever discover this information by putting in some effort into the discovery.

It’s not about everyone ‘proving’ themselves to you. You’re an equal participant in your interactions so you have to trust to a reasonable level to be able to gauge whether to proceed or not. If you didn’t trust somewhat, you wouldn’t know if your perception is down to paranoia and if you trust too much, you can’t tell fact from fiction.

You have to ‘put out’ some trust, to learn to trust and then learn from any positive or negative ‘feedback’ that you receive.

Your confidence will build because not only will your self-esteem improve from not staying in situations long past their sell by dates and giving yourself a pat on the back for managing damage control, but because you’re taking action, it boosts your self-esteem because you know you’re acting in your best interests.

You’re also free to get on with enjoying relationships romantic and otherwise with people that consistently show that you have a mutually fulfilling relationship instead of having to second guess it.

Without trust, there is no relationship and that includes pseudo trust built on false promises, denial, fear, hot air and sandcastles in the sky so learn to trust yourself. Life is an ongoing journey that serves us lessons to teach and guide us and will keep serving you up the same lessons until you trust the positive and ‘feedback’ from your life and take action.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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