Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Dr Mark Rackley
Psychologist and Mental Health Expert
12:00 AM 6th July 2024

Trust Issues, What Can You Do About Them?

I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe in you.
Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844 – 1900

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Trust has been described as the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. Trust works well when we feel secure in the reliability of what we put trust in, and this does not fail us.

However, when our trust in something or someone is tested or crushed and fails, we can find ourselves experiencing what Nietzsche said; upset, finding it hard to believe in people or organisations and tears down relationships we’re afraid to try and build again.

Building and maintaining trust can be such a difficult thing for some to do and so becomes a major issue they struggle with. Having the issue of trust, can be a huge challenge to work with, as it can seem that being trustful of others is risky, leaves you vulnerable and will only end in personal disaster.

The issue of trust can have such a detrimental impact on various aspects of our life. The popular phrase ‘no man is an island,’ describes how we need other people and are connected to others. If we have the issue of trust, we may gladly sit on our own island as allowing anyone or anything to set foot on the shore is just too risky and not a good idea.

The experience of trust is something that is introduced to us early on in our life. As a child, our family or caregiving environment is our first introduction to relationships and socialisation. As a result, early on we learn what a trusting relationship and environment is or isn’t like.

If we were raised in an environment where we experienced our parent or caregiver as a permanent fixture in our life, we then learn to develop secure attachments to people.

Sadly, some children are raised within neglectful environments which facilitates an insecure, anxious or even avoidant attachment to people. A child raised in this type of environment will struggle to trust people, believing that people don’t care about them, will only hurt them and in some cases, that they should be avoided completely. Understandably, this type of environment can facilitate the issue of trust developing from a young age and into adulthood.

Living with the issue of trust, can colour and permeate many different aspects of our life. We may come to view people as dangerous, untrustworthy and having ulterior or sinister motives in their relationships with us. We can be vulnerable to being overly sensitive to the motives of others, their behaviour and what they say. We can easily adopt a cynical and suspicious view of others and generalise that people are all the same, should not be trusted and not allow people the benefit of the doubt. Doing so, we stay on our island and dig in to ensure no-one even gets close to the beach.

Trust issues can lead to adopting a defensive position and putting an emotional barrier around us as a means of protecting against others. Based on old historical models and examples, we don’t allow others to get close to us out of the belief and fear that they will abandon us or hurt us in some way. This defensive position keeps people at a distance and allows us to feel in control of who to trust or not.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Working with the issues of trust involves looking at ourselves and recognising if we have trust issues or not. We can start by considering what the quality of our relationships are like. Do we have solid relationships with people, or are we quick to leave if we feel they can’t be trusted? Do we give people the benefit of the doubt, or are we quick to negatively judge them and deem them untrustworthy?

Trust involves risk and coming out of a protective, comfort zone and stepping off the island we have created for ourselves. In managing the issue of trust, we must allow our perception of trust to be open to challenge. This is vital, as to seek to hold onto our existing personal interpretation of trust, leaves the issue of trust not really being open to question and limits the chance of change. Trust is both built and earned, but it needs a place from which to start building. We may find that we need to tear down protective walls, get off our island and start to let people into our life.

Trust issues can indeed be challenging to deal with, but not impossible. Ironically, you need to trust that trust issues can and do change.

Dr Mark Rackley
Dr Mark Rackley
Listen to my podcast: I Have Issues, The Mental Health Podcast From Dr Mark Rackley (on all major podcast platforms)

For support with your mental health:
-Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service.
-Make an urgent appointment with your GP.
-Go to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.
-Visit All areas have local mental health crisis lines where urgent help, possibly at home, can also be arranged.