Learning how to trust again takes effort, but the rewards for it include a happier life.
Divorce shatters many more relationships than just the one between spouses. Everyone expects that relationship to break because that’s what divorce is – the end of a marriage.
But there are other relationships that fail because of divorce. It’s common to also lose connections with in-laws, family, friends, children and most tragically yourself.
Each of these lost relationships leaves you questioning whether you really can trust again while at the same time knowing that you have to learn how to trust again if you’re ever going to make it through your divorce.
When you’re still dealing with grief over the end of your marriage it can seem impossible to even consider trusting again, but you can. It is totally possible for you to start building trust again despite all the betrayals you’ve suffered because of your divorce.
To begin, you need to examine what trust is. You must know what it is before you can learn how to trust again.
Trust is much more than a thought or a belief that you can count on someone (or something). This definition of trust implies that trust is simple that you’ve either got it or you don’t. Trust is much more complicated than that.
Trust is more about actions than thoughts or beliefs. It is built over time instead of automatically bestowed upon someone simply because of the position they hold or want to hold in your life.
So how do you learn to trust again? By paying attention to these 9 things in every relationship you have:
- Step out of victimhood. If you believe that things just keep happening to you and that you don’t have control over any of it, you’re living life as a victim. It’s incredibly painful to live like this. The fear of believing that everyone is out to get you is debilitating. But, once you step out of the idea that things are happening to you, you’ll be able to start exploring trust again.
- Eliminate negative thoughts about yourself. You’ve probably got a lot of negative, critical thoughts about yourself since your divorce journey began. (Then again, you might have had them prior to all of this too.)
Learning to quiet those voices and recognize them for what they are (a means of protection which has gone wild) is an incredibly powerful skill that will allow you to recognize more easily whether you can trust someone because you’ll be able to focus on and assess them.
- Recognize your strengths and successes. This boils down to knowing your worth. When you remember that you’re a valuable and wonderful person who others have the privilege of getting to know, you won’t be as tempted to put your trust in those who aren’t worthy of it.
- Become aware of what you’re thinking and feeling. Your thoughts and emotions can cloud your perceptions of what’s happening around you. They can trigger you to jump to conclusions without considering all the facts. Doing this erodes trust.
But if you can become aware of what you’re thinking and feeling before reacting to people and situations, you’ll be setting yourself up to see things for what they are. And being able to perceive things clearly will skyrocket your ability to place your trust well.
- Keep your word. This is about being trustworthy to yourself and others. When you are trustworthy, you encourage those around you to also be full of integrity and repel those who aren’t willing to interact with you in a trustworthy manner.
- Learn from mistakes. When you discover that you’ve made a mistake (like trusting your friends to stick by your side during your divorce), the surest way to build a sense of safety and trust is to learn from your mistakes.
- Practice patience, compassion and forgiveness. Once you’ve eliminated any tendencies you have toward a victim mentality, practicing patience, compassion and forgiveness can go a long way toward establishing trust in any relationship. Remember trust is built through actions and the more genuinely generous (read that as “not manipulative”) your actions are while still upholding your values, the easier it will be for you to see if the people you’re interacting with are capable of the same.
- Uphold your values. You know what’s important to you and you deserve to be around people who have very similar values. When you uphold your values in every relationship, you’ll quickly see if others have similar values or not.
- Rebuild your self-worth. When you think about it, you must think well of yourself before you can ever truly enter into a trusting relationship with anyone else.
Adhering to these 9 suggestions won’t guarantee that you’ll never have another relationship shatter or that you’ll never divorce again. But these suggestions are prerequisites for creating new trust-filled relationships (including repairing any existing relationships that your divorce has damaged).
Learning how to trust again takes time because trust is built and earned over time. But it’s worth learning to have faith in others again because trust allows deep connection and deep connection is one of our most basic human needs.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are looking for advice and support in healing after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Looking for more help getting over your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.