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How Do I Build Trust In My Relationships?

Our minds love absolutes. People are “good or bad.” Places are “safe or unsafe.” Trust is also often viewed as a binary. You either have one’s trust or you don’t. You either can trust someone or you can’t. However, it is essential that we view concepts such as trust from a less absolute perspective. Trust belongs along a continuum. We can give someone 5% of our trust. We can also give them 95% of our trust. We can also specify the type of trust we are attempting to foster or evaluate. In practice, this might look like allowing someone to stand in closer proximity to us than we typically allow (physical trust pertaining to safety/comfort). We could offer to pay for someone else’s cup of coffee, thus giving them an opportunity to demonstrate financial trust.

Granted, some of these interactions may necessitate active communication. It isn’t helpful to simply expect someone else to pay us back (if we haven’t verbalized this). But, it’s also impossible to know whether someone is reliable without giving them an opportunity (albeit small, at first) to demonstrate their trustworthiness.

The common response at this point in the conversation relates to past instances of being “wronged.” These are not to be ignored. It is helpful to incorporate past injuries to trust in order to learn how to trust others in the future. If you have revealed an aspect of yourself to someone else that you did not want them to share and your trust was betrayed, this can serve as a learning opportunity. Had that individual demonstrated emotional trustworthiness (to a high degree) or did we simply reveal too much, too soon? In this scenario, it would be beneficial to examine our own approach to revealing information about ourselves and compare/contrast it with others in our lives (as well as our values). Do we have someone in our life we can look to who demonstrates gradual increases/moderation of self-disclosures? Can we also apply the same principles in small capacities?

Trust is essential in order for humans to function in a society. While we know it is important we don’t trust others too much, research has indicated there is value in moving these “trust meters” regularly and with intentionality.

Therapy incorporates cognitive challenging and reframing skills, as well as many other evidence-based techniques, in order to help us address specific aspects of our relationships. If you’re interested in bettering your mental health or have questions about how you can best approach important relationships in your life, reach out to Roswell Psychology today for a complimentary consultation.

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