For Trust In The Disappointments Of Life
Dealing with Disappointment
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Robert didn’t know what to think. How could he have misjudged the situation so badly? He felt angry, sad, and betrayed.
Because of his impending retirement, Robert had carefully groomed a successor to take over his key project. The company’s executives assured him that they agreed with his choice. But when push came to shove, they vetoed his candidate.
Instead, they appointed someone else to take the lead — someone Robert didn’t trust to continue the work that had been the capstone of his career. Robert was left kicking himself for not seeing it coming.
The sense of futility and bewilderment was almost too much to bear.
Many people successfully work through their disappointments. Somehow, they have the strength to take stock of what has happened to them, learn from the incident, and move on. They come such disappointments stronger. But others, Robert, struggle. In these cases, disappointment can even become depression. How can we learn to manage our disappointments effectively?
Someone once said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” The quote recognizes that when we experience disappointment, our hopes and expectations are line with reality. We all feel this way from time to time. Some of these disappointments will not make much of a difference, but there are also disappointments that can change the course of our lives.
Given the convoluted nature of desire, there are no experiences that are entirely free of disappointment. This is what makes disappointment such a complex and confusing feeling. Many of our desires that we pursue are unconscious, sublimated, and frequently contradictory.
Paradoxically, we may even become disappointed when we get what we want. For example, in Sigmund Freud’s 1916 essay “Some Character-Types Met with in Psycho-Analytic Work,” he explored the paradox of people who were “wrecked by success.” Unconsciously, these people believed that their success was unjustified, so achieving it didn’t feel satisfying to them.
In other cases, even when we do get what we want — and think we deserve it — we may discover that what we wanted so badly doesn’t bring the expected bliss and happiness.
The way we handle disappointment is related to our developmental history — our relationship with our parents and other early, formative experiences.
Some people seek to avoid disappointment by turning into underachievers. They unconsciously set the bar low and avoid taking risks, to prevent themselves or others from being disappointed.
Without realizing it, they have decided that the best strategy is not to have high expectations about anything. Such behavior turns into a form of self-preservation. However, it also leads to a mediocre and unfulfilled life.
Ironically, these people often turn into disappointments for everyone, including themselves.
Others, following a very different trajectory, seek to avoid disappointment by becoming overachievers.
Although they tell themselves that their expectations of perfection are appropriate and realistic, these presumptions turn out not to be true at all.
The bar is set far too high to ever make whatever they want to achieve attainable. They forget that perfectionism rarely begets perfection, or satisfaction — instead, it too often leads to disappointment.Of course, there are also people with a more balanced developmental history. These people usually had parents who didn’t try to be perfect, and didn’t expect their children to be perfect either. By being “good enough” parents, they created a secure base for their children.
These children feel secure in their relationships, supported rather than controlled, and are able to play, explore, and learn, thereby acquiring the inner strength to cope constructively with the inevitable setbacks that will come their way in their journey through life.
While it’s helpful to know which way we lean, our developmental history is not our destiny. Whatever our developmental history may be — having a secure base or not — disappointment can provide us with valuable information about our beliefs about ourselves, other people, and what makes us happy.
Styles of Coping
Major disappointments are often defining moments in people’s lives. Constructively dealing with disappointment can be a self-curative process that can contribute to personal growth and make for greater resilience. Take Winston Churchill as an example.
Early in his career, the disastrous First World War military campaign at Gallipoli forced him to resign from his position as First Lord of the Admiralty.
Churchill had come up with a plan (later called “Churchill’s Folly”) to send a fleet through the Dardanelles strait and capture Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), which he predicted would cause Ottoman Turkey to quit the war. But the plan utterly failed, and tens of thousands died. Churchill was disgraced and demoted.
To cope with this calamity and the subsequent humiliation, he refocused his attention and energy away from politics. Six months after his demotion, he became an infantry officer and joined the fight in France. During his time the political spotlight, he thought through what had happened to him and what it had taught him about dealing with life’s challenges.
While at first he felt overwhelmed by what he called his “black dog of depression,” Churchill realized that it was much more constructive to reframe his disappointments as learning experiences in order to be able to cope better in the future, and to use disappointment as a catalyst for personal growth.
Such soul-searching provided him with new information about himself, the world, and others.
Far too many people, when faced with disappointment, tend to attribute negative life events to their personal failings. They resort to obsessional self-blaming, as they feel ashamed or humiliated of not measuring up to the image of their ideal self.As a result, they direct their anger inward, to themselves. It may prompt them to say that they deserved it, that they were not good enough. Others, however, will turn their anger outward toward others, to people who didn’t fulfill their expectations.
It will contribute to feelings of spite, vindictiveness, and bitterness.
Unfortunately, both emotional reactions keep the person stuck in a web of disappointment. In many instances, disappointment can turn into a lingering sadness — a feeling of loss, of being let down, or even of betrayal. In particular, this is the case when disappointment has been inflicted by people whom they trusted deeply, as in Robert’s case. How can we overcome it?
Unpleasant as disappointments may be, we can always learn something from them.
To constructively deal with disappointment, we need to first understand what has happened. Some instances of disappointment are predictable and preventable. But there are others that are unavoidable and beyond our control.
To manage disappointment, we need to differentiate between situations that fall within our control and factors that are beyond it.
Being able to recognize the difference will help us to deal with our frustrations more appropriately.
We also need to check whether our expectations are reasonable. Are we having unrealistically high expectations, and thus aiming too high? Or are we setting our goals too low? If you belong to that group of people who set their expectations too high, working constructively through disappointments may help you to modify expectations.
You may learn to move away from perfectionistic standards; you may start to accept what is “good enough.” For those who have set the bar too low, what they should stop doing is hanging on to false beliefs about life , “There is no more hope” or “Nothing ever works for me.
” Avoiding disappointment is not possible in life; trying to do so is not a very constructive way of dealing with life’s challenges.
When disappointment occurs regularly, it may be advisable to reevaluate our perceptions and behaviors. We can examine whether we are inviting disappointment.
Could we have been clearer in our communication of what we were expecting from others? Do we really know what we expect from ourselves? Are we listening to what others are saying to us? Could we have done something different to arrive at a different outcome? Also, given what we know about ourselves, how can we adjust our expectations to be more effective the next time? And what support and resources do we have at our disposal to help us move through our feelings of disappointment successfully?To deal with disappointment constructively, don’t let it deteriorate into apathy and depression. Sustained negative rumination is not a prescription for change.
When we become preoccupied by bad news, we lose sight of what is right in our lives and in the world around us. We only internalize feelings of sadness and anger.
Hanging on to these feelings can result in us unconsciously making them a part of our identity.
When we catch ourselves thinking negatively, we should redirect our energy and focus on positive solutions.
Although from an unconscious perspective we may be reluctant to let go of a disappointing experience, in the long run it will be more detrimental to continue holding on.
When we become too preoccupied with thinking about situations that have not met our expectations, we only create unnecessary stress.
Disappointment is not meant to destroy us. If taken in stride, it can strengthen us and make us better.
In spite of its devastating emotional impact, we may even consider encounters with disappointment as journeys toward greater insight and wisdom.But to be able to make these journeys of self-reflection and reevaluation meaningful, we need to look beneath the surface. Only by working through painful associations will we be free from them.
In spite of whatever disappointing experiences come our way, our challenge will be to not let bitterness take root. We would do well to keep in mind that although disappointment is inevitable, being discouraged is always a choice.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article wrongly attributed the quote “Expectation is the root of all heartache” to William Shakespeare. While HBR.org is not the first to make that mistake, we’ve updated the attribution to prevent others from repeating it.
The Perks of Disappointment
While thinking about disappointment, I decided to look up its definition and etymology on the Internet. Much to my surprise, one of the searches that Google suggested was “Disappointment Island.” Well, I had to click on that, didn’t I? It turns out Disappointment Island is one of the seven Auckland Islands off the coast of New Zealand, and it was the location of many shipwrecks.
So many wrecks occurred in this area that the New Zealand government regularly visited these islands and set up depots, stocked with food, clothing, and tools for the use of castaways waiting to be rescued. It turns out that the disappointment of being shipwrecked, which I imagine would be considerable, was survivable if one had provisions.
And therein, of course, lies the moral: If we have the provisions to deal with disappointment, it is workable. Indeed it is a universal human experience. So finding ways to work with our disappointment seems not just important but necessary.
1. Not Getting What You Want
One of the most common sources of disappointment is not getting something that you want in life. It might be as small as not finding your favorite brand of peanut butter at the grocery store or not getting the gift you had really wanted for your birthday or at Christmas. Dang, you didn’t get that device you were coveting.
It could be much bigger: Not getting a promotion you’d hoped for at work, not getting into the college of your choice, not winning an election, or being turned down when you propose marriage to someone. Closely related to not getting what you want is getting what you don’t want. Nobody wants a flat tire; nobody wants to get stomach flu. Nobody wants to flunk school, get cancer, or get arrested.
Feelings of disappointment may have shades of anger, sadness, emptiness, or dejection. You might take a stiff upper lip approach to your disappointment, but it will probably be a quivering lip.
If you book a venue for a lecture or a concert, and the room is only half full, you might say, “That was a disappointing turnout.
” And someone might say back to you, “What did you expect?” That doesn’t mean they’re asking you literally what you expected, but they’re telling you that you had unrealistic expectations.
It could mean you didn’t do enough to publicize the event, so you should have expected poor attendance.
There’s a strong relationship between expectations and disappointment. Expectations may arise in the present, but they tend to be future oriented—they set us up for disappointments to come. It may be helpful to look at how our thoughts of the past, the present, and the future relate to expectation and disappointment.
When we look more closely at disappointment, we can see how much we judge both ourselves and others when things don’t go our way. Expectations set us up for disappointment. Blame compounds our disappointments.You can see this in the littlest blames and judgments: You make a reservation for dinner, but when you get to the restaurant, they can’t find your reservation and there are no tables available.
Somebody has to pay!
With many smaller disappointments, humor is a good salve. Really, is there nothing you can put on your burrito to replace the brand of hot sauce you just ran ? Isn’t it even a little bit amusing that you’re so fixated?
A disappointing vacation, one that didn’t turn out well, may become the source of hilarity later. In our family, we laugh about a series of “death marches”—hikes that went horribly wrong. When one of these events happens to you, in the present, can you see even a glimmer of funniness in it?
Daily disappointment is often connected with the breakdown of a habitual pattern. When you can’t follow a daily routine or habit, it’s very irritating—and that irritation is a particular kind of disappointment that we all know. If you’ve been wearing the same brand and style of sneaker for the last 10 years, and suddenly, it’s no longer being made, yes, it’s disappointing.
But not getting what you’re accustomed to also wakes you up. You have to look around and see what else is available. You may not want to have a different drink at the coffee shop. Half awake, you just want to put in your order and get your cup of Joe. But when they stop carrying your favorite dark roast, you have to look at the menu and consider the alternatives.
Disappointment can be very refreshing.
2. Getting What You Want
What about the disappointment that comes from getting what you want? What could be the problem with inheriting a million dollars, getting engaged to your true love, signing a book contract, winning an election, or fulfilling any dream you have? More mundanely: You want a bagel. You get a bagel. What’s disappointing about that? But we keep raising the bar. What we think will satisfy us today may not satisfy us at all tomorrow.
In the story of the Fisherman and His Wife, a poor fisherman catches a magic fish that implores the fisherman to save him in exchange for fulfilling a wish. The fisherman can’t think of anything he wants, so he throws the fish back and goes home. When his wife hears the story, she has lots of ideas.
They could use a loaf of bread, since they have nothing to eat. The fish grants this wish, but the wife soon wants a nice house, to replace their hovel. Then she wants a mansion, then she wants to be a queen in a palace, and finally she wants to make the sun rise and the moon set. Essentially she wants to be God. You can imagine what happens next.
The fish says no way, and she is very disappointed.The wish-fulfilling fish disappears, and the fisherman and his wife are back in their shack. so many fables, this one touches on real life desires. There’s nothing wrong with improving your life, but unfortunately, we are often unable to appreciate what we are given or achieve. We may find ourselves disappointed over and over again as our appetites increase.
When the great thing we longed for doesn’t live up to our expectations, we may wonder why we wanted it in the first place. That word expectation again! Buyer’s remorse occurs, in part, because the purchased item doesn’t bring the hoped-for satisfaction.
Getting what you want is also a source of disappointment because we can’t anticipate the unexpected consequences in life. There are often media stories about those who are miserable after winning the lottery.
They are unprepared for people who try to scam them and for the reactions of friends and relatives who want a piece of the winnings. And while there may be a tremendous thrill to winning an election, politicians are exposed to myriad difficulties once they’re in office.
Many successful celebrities commit suicide quite possibly because they’re not prepared for the challenges and disappointments that come with success.
Another consequence of getting what you want is worrying that you’ll lose what you have. Bad investments, the volatility of the stock markets, and all such vicissitudes of life provide lots of room for the joys of disappointment!
Often what we think will satisfy us today will leave us unsatisfied tomorrow. As we raise the bar on our expectations, we can wind up chronically unable to appreciate what we already have.
3. Not Knowing What You Want
And then there’s the dissatisfaction of not being sure whether you want the fish or the steak or the tofu on the menu—the ongoing disappointment that arises from not being certain what you want at all. Anything you choose means that you don’t choose something else.
As we’ve all heard, when one door closes, another opens, but we often worry about the door that’s about to shut. We don’t want to make the wrong choice. The very fact of having to make a choice somehow disappoints us at a fundamental level.
Why can’t the thing just come to us served on a silver platter?
Yet, in the long run, the funny thing about having to choose, to make up our mind, is that even the choices that don’t seem to work out well for us have the potential for personal growth. People often speak of how adversity has fueled positive changes in their lives.The value of disappointment is often easier to perceive in retrospect. Five years after you don’t get your dream job, you may find yourself in a very successful career you never expected.
However, at the moment when we’re dealing directly with major setbacks or challenges, we need to find the strength that allows us to face disappointment without losing heart.
When we feel fundamentally disappointed, it can be paralyzing. We heap blame onto ourselves and we may blame the people we live and work with, especially our loved ones.
This judgmental approach is expressed in a phrase , “I’m so disappointed in you!” Ouch! Or we say to ourselves, “Man, I really messed up.” We feel giving up on ourselves. We’re unworthy or unable to achieve anything.
We feel not just disappointed but discouraged, which literally means to lose our courage.
When things really don’t go our way, how do we find the courage to not give up? An early mindful perspective comes from Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in his journal in 1838: “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” Or as we might rephrase this: Through the quiet of mindfulness practice and being open enough, we can find benefit in every disappointment.
Disappointment isn’t something we can avoid in life, but it doesn’t have to be crippling. If we have even a glimmer that our failures are as valuable as our successes, we have the beginnings of a way to work with disappointment. The unacceptable alternative is to give up.
It’s far more damaging to shut down, to avoid taking a chance in life, avoiding anything risky, committed, or uncertain. Martin Luther King wrote: “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not great love.” (MLK Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 1963).
Starting with an appreciation of ourselves and growing in our empathy for others, let us champion love over apathy. Let’s take a chance! Let’s risk disappointment! We can celebrate that we have the courage to experience both disappointment, or failure, and satisfaction, or success.
Contemplation Practice: Working with Your Expectations
At different times, you may be more preoccupied with what happened earlier, what’s happening now, or what you think and hope is going to happen.
Give yourself some time to notice your thoughts and how they shape your expectations. The point here is not to manipulate your thoughts but to become more aware of them.
This exercise is about observing and understanding expectations and disappointment.
The Overall Approach: During a session of meditation or at another quiet time, pay attention to all these thoughts of the past, the present, or the future. Here are some suggestions for how to do that:
1. When you have thoughts about the past, does this set up expectations for the future? For example, if you had a fight with your son or daughter this morning before they left for school, are you anticipating what will happen when they come home tonight?
2. What are you expecting to happen in the future, whether it’s later today, this week, or this year? Will you be disappointed if these expectations aren’t met? If your partner always gets you a great gift for Christmas, do you anticipate what you’ll get next year? Do you worry about whether you’ll find the right gift for him or her?
3. When you have thoughts about what’s happening now, are there expectations attached to that? Present-oriented thoughts are often observation. How do expectations come your observations? Think about a messy room in your house, filled with stuff that you and others have left there.
Can you just observe that in your mind? Can you separate the observation from the plan you make to clean up? Or you might look out the window and be surprised that it’s just starting to snow.Is there a moment of appreciation, when you see those first few flakes falling, before you wonder whether you have a snow shovel anywhere around?
4. Although we all have lots of thoughts and expectations that preoccupy us, we rarely give ourselves space to see these thoughts and emotions and explore them without judging or trying to change them. What do you learn from looking without judgment?
Contemplation: Acknowledging Disappointment
1. Make a point of simply acknowledging to yourself when you are disappointed. Over a day or a week, notice when you’re disappointed because you don’t get what you want.
2. When you’re noticing disappointments in your life, it’s helpful to include small every day disappointments, running milk for your coffee in the morning.
3. It may also be helpful to note when you are disappointed in yourself and when you are disappointed in others.
Contemplation: Bring Your Disappointment with You
When you’re in the midst of disappointment, here are a few things that may help you to find quiet and openness:
If you have a few minutes – Breathe through your disappointment. Take it in and let it out. Just stopping to notice our breath for a minute can make a big difference.
If you have an hour – You might spend time meditating or you might go for a walk, a swim, or a bike ride. See what happens when you give yourself some space. Bring your disappointment with you, or try to leave it at home or at the office.
If you have more time – Set aside an afternoon or a whole day to practice with your disappointment. You can do this on your own or join a group retreat.
Does your disappointment change when you work with it this way? One thing that might surprise you is that, if you sit long enough with even a huge or devastating disappointment, you might get bored with your thoughts and reactions to it. What’s that about?
Any time – Be kind to yourself. There’s a difference between you and whatever disappointment you are experiencing. Appreciate yourself. Appreciate your bravery: Right now, when you are experiencing the worst disappointment of your life, you are there with it. It’s okay that you’re disappointed. Be kind to yourself.
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Are Your Expectations Setting You Up for Disappointment?
“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts
For a long time, I felt I was standing on a riverbank just watching the water of life go by, too scared to jump in and play. I was waiting for the perfect current to come along that I could ride all the way to the completion of my intensely detailed life goals.
I didn’t want to move until I felt success was guaranteed and I was certain it was the “right” thing. Life was flowing, and I wasn’t doing anything. You can never be certain about the future.
Around this time, I graduated engineering school and instead of feeling excited and free, I felt a large weight was dropped on my shoulders. I had a lot of expectations to meet, all of which were self-imposed.
After all, I had an engineering degree. By the world’s standards, I was bound to be successful, get a great job, and make money.
The thing is, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the path of engineering in the traditional sense was not right for me. I also couldn’t seem to function with the weight of these expectations. I got depressed, frustrated, and disappointed with myself for not pursuing engineering right way.
I expected myself to be successful, which eventually escalated into expectations of perfection in all the areas of my life.One day, I was on a walk with my Dad and he said to me, “Amanda, you just have to jump in the river and swim! You might wash up on the shore of the riverbank a little ways down, but at least you’re moving. Plus, you never know who or what will be there on the shore waiting for you. Just jump in and stop trying to set expectations for the future. Jump in and ride whatever current looks good now.”
That’s exactly what I did. Instead of focusing on what to do, where to go, and how I was going to accomplish everything I thought I wanted in life, I focused on releasing the expectations I had about it all.
I focused on what I wanted to and could do now. I finally jumped in.
The following are some tips and lessons I learned while making the transition from expectation overload to the lightness of exploration.
Less Expectation, More Exploration And Trust
Oh, this is so juicy! When expectations rule our lives, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Then guess what? We judge ourselves harshly for it.
For example, I had a list of specific measurable goals for where I thought I should be when I graduated engineering school. When I finally did and realized I didn’t meet any of my goals, I felt disappointed and started telling myself I was a failure. Of course, this behavior got me nowhere.
The most important thing I learned is to release my expectations about how I think my life should go and approach life from a place of exploration. This opens you up to experiencing things that are beyond your wildest dreams. It’s okay to have goals, but make sure to leave room for something even greater to come along.
Maybe the most peaceful and quickest way to achieve something is a way you haven’t thought of yet. Be willing to go with the flow.
This requires trust. I learned that when I let go and trust I will receive everything I need, I always do. I often find myself saying at the end of the day, “Wow, this day was amazing and I had no plan, yet I accomplished everything I needed to.”
Explore through life knowing deep down that you are always guided to exactly where you need to be. Plus, doesn’t exploring sound more fun than expecting?
Look Beyond Your Distractions
A lot of us want external things because of the way we think they will make us feel. I wanted a skinnier body because I thought it would make me feel happy and loved. I wanted a successful career because I thought I would feel fulfilled. I wanted a relationship because I thought it would relieve my loneliness.
These things can distract us from looking within ourselves for answers.
When they fail to do what we want, we feel disappointed and angry. In order to release this cycle of disappointment, we need to release the belief that they will save us.If you want to experience more love, start giving more love. If you don’t want to feel lonely, then start healing the belief that you are alone. If you want to feel you’re worth something, start treating yourself you are worth something, because you most definitely are.
When you heal the beliefs that run wild in your mind, you can still enjoy the externals, but you’re no longer trying to get something from them. You know you’re already fulfilled, happy, and complete, so if your circumstances change, you can maintain your joy.
Relax More, Judge Yourself Less
I’ve learned that the loving voice within, also known as our inner guide, has a bigger plan for us than we have for ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I want that plan!
As it turns out, right now you are exactly where you need to be. Phew.
The only thing you need to do in order to follow the path of your inner guidance is listen to it by releasing your judgments about what you think is happening. You don’t have to have everything figured out right now.
Get quiet and listen for guidance about what to do in this moment. Any advice coming from love will be something you can do now. The thought of doing it will make you feel lighter and excited.
Change Your Thoughts
If you are feeling disappointed, it’s because of the thoughts you have about the situation. So if you don’t want to feel disappointed, change your thoughts.
The first thing I do when I feel any disturbance to my peace of mind is say to myself, “I am determined to see this person/situation differently.” This is how you step into your power. Everything happens for you, not to you.
You’ll be amazed at the shifts in perception that occur when you become willing to release fear and see love instead.
When you focus on releasing the thoughts about how you imagined your life to be, your most loving, truthful self can come forward and guide you. There is nothing to figure out.
Photo by janoma.cl
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10 Signs You Have Trust Issues and How to Begin Healing
Trust issues may be your number one obstacle to connection, warmth, and intimacy. This post assumes you’re experiencing trust issues left over from past relationships, but don’t have rational evidence that your current relationship partner is untrustworthy.
When you’re experiencing trust issues in a relationship, you cannot extend yourself, or make yourself vulnerable, which is essential to lasting success, according to experts. Here we’ll offer some unmistakable signs and symptoms of trust issues and point toward their resolution.
But before we get into the 10 signs of trust issues, let’s get the bad news the way.
The bad news about trust issues….
Overcoming your trust issues in relationships is probably going to be difficult. If you have real trust issues, you’ve been hurt in the past. Your lack of trust is held in place by fear of being betrayed, humiliated, taken advantage of or otherwise manipulated all over again. The perceived risk may be overwhelming.
Author and poet Nikki Knight wrote in
The aching, hurt, and humiliation of the past have become so familiar – the feelings, although heavy and burdensome, are hard to let go because I’m not sure I know how to feel anything else. Just cold and numb.
Trust issues are real-life experience, some of it probably originating in childhood, although this isn’t always the case. Some adults legitimately experience horrific betrayal and pain at the hands of others. Trust issues show up as a natural defense mechanism.
Why is it so difficult to let go of trust issues?
One surprising reason stands above all. Prejudice.
Not in a racial sense. Legitimately obtained trust issues color your thinking, however, causing you to anticipate negative consequences should you let down your guard. The prejudice (pre-judging) here is an ongoing suspicion that people are going to hurt you in some way.
Joshua Coleman, Ph.D. at Berkely.Edu discusses hypervigilance in one of his pieces on trust and betrayal. Coleman suggests being hypervigilant after a betrayal is evolutionarily intended to keep us from haplessly wandering into another betrayal. The downside of such hypervigilance is that it keeps you isolated from others.
You look for the signs. You play movies in your head of how someone is going to take advantage of you. You predict betrayal. The fear and anticipation of pain keep the trust issues alive, giving them newfound relevance.Unfortunately, trust issues inevitably turn into self-sabotage. For example, when you don’t trust, you don’t connect with others. Missing out on chances to get to know people, to network, form friendships, and intimate relationships can only be called self-deprivation.
Lack of self-confidence, missed opportunities, loneliness, and even social anxiety are the results of this kind of self-sabotage, which is maintained by painful trust issues that will not relent. You’ve got your reasons for self-sabotage in the form of very real trust issues. However, it is self-sabotage nonetheless.
Overcoming trust issues requires seeing things differently
Seeing trust issues, not as a self-protective, but as self-sabotaging is one way to motivate yourself to work through them. This isn’t necessarily easy or obvious. The pain you’ve experienced is real and must be validated.
And there does exist the possibility of being hurt again. Worse, if you’re already anticipating a breach of trust, then you’re also ly to be hypersensitive to apparent breaches, even when they don’t exist or aren’t intended.
You’re in an emotional double bind. Damned if you do trust, damned if you don’t. Understanding the various signs of trust issues is a starting point for resolution. Below are 10.
1. You predict how people will betray you without evidence of betrayal
If you’re with someone who has a track record of misdeeds, a lack of trust is appropriate. You should proceed fully aware of his or her potential to be devious. However, many of us have trust issues with people who never shown any sign of untrustworthiness.
Still, we anticipate the breach. Why? Trust issues from past experience are being cast into the perceived future, contaminating the present relationship.
2. You trust people you have no business trusting
It’s counterintuitive, but it happens all the time. When you have trust issues, you may often place your trust in those who are most ly to take advantage of you. Your trust issues at this point have become an emotional self-fulfilling prophecy, as if you were unconsciously confirming how untrustworthy people are.
3. You trust people too quickly
It may be due to the self-fulfilling prophecy, but this one may also come from failing to understand how trust works. Trust is earned. As an adult, you’re best off starting with an open mind and extending trust to people as they build a track record with you.
If you’re not experienced with creating trusted relationships, you may extend trust blindly.
4. Sharing is not caring
With flaring trust issues, sharing isn’t caring. It may feel more emotional masochism. It takes trust to open up and share your thoughts and feelings. Trust issues predict that other people will use your inward feelings against you at some point, so it’s best to be guarded.
5. Your relationships are shallow, even if you aren’t
You may be a deep thinking and feeling person, but your relationships that are marred by trust issues will be shallow. You’ll be ‘protecting’ your inner, truer self and not openly sharing, so your relationships will be lighter, less threatening communication about external things.
6. Emotional commitment? Uh—no!
Trust issues dictate that you live in a world of anticipated loss. Your relationships don’t feel solid or grounded. At some level, you believe betrayal is inevitable. This makes it difficult to commit emotionally. You do not want to become attached to something you already ‘know’ you are going to lose.
7. Genuine mistakes are seen as awful breaches of trust
People are imperfect, we all know that. If you have trust issues, however, you may not be able to tolerate others’ imperfection when you see their mistakes though the prejudice of trust issues.
• If she’s running late, she’s hiding something from you.• When he speaks loudly, he secretly hates you.• If she can’t talk right now, she is rejecting you.• When he won’t let you scan through his phone, he has a secret lover.
• If she doesn’t want to have sex tonight, she is not into you anymore.
8. Others may see you as self-righteous, impossible to please, or unforgiving
Your trust issues don’t just affect you. They dictate how you respond to others. When you find it hard to trust, and follow some of the signs mentioned above, others will find you difficult.
For example, when your girlfriend who is running late arrives to find you suspicious, she’s probably not going to be inspired to console you.
More ly, she will expect you to apologize for being so suspicious.
If when your friend can’t talk right now, you respond with accusations, he is not going to feel encouraged to talk to you anytime soon. One author put it this way…
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way, but often is.
9. You feel lonely, isolated, and an outcast
When you cannot trust people enough to share your true self, no one is going to know or witness your true self. Without being known to others, you’ll feel lonely and perhaps you don’t belong.
There are reasons you learned not to trust. Most ly, those reasons have everything to do with one or two specific people in your past. However, the mind naturally generalizes lessons learned. Without realizing it, you now have trust issues with most people. Unless you have a few people who know you – whom you really do trust – it’s hard to feel you belong.
You may even feel a total fake – an impostor – who fears being discovered as an illegitimate person.
All of this may lead to depression and despair. Since it is impossible to be socially adjusted without trusting others to some degree, and when it is painful to consider trusting anyone, you may feel trapped in a world in which you don’t feel you belong.
Despair and depression are the ly results of this double bind.
Letting Go of Trust Issues So You Can Live and Love More Fully
Working through trust issues can feel walking on broken glass. You just know you’re going to bleed.
This will take more courage than you’ve given yourself the luxury of exercising in a while. And it will be worth the effort, and the blood, if you persist.
I won’t sugar coat it because I’ve been there. The above signs of trust issues didn’t come through academic research.
They came from my own memory. I’ve been there.
Learning to trust someone with your mind and heart in spite of a mountain of trust issues is the accomplishment of a lifetime. And it’s an emotionally demanding process.
You’ll probably need a trust partner to help you.
Letting go, regardless, requires one thing above all: Taking the risk of being hurt.
The process looks something this:
1. Be willing to risk the pain of learning to trust.2. Find a trust partner (a therapist or coach can work, if they understand trust issues).3. Learn how trust works (how it is earned and how to extend it).3. Take emotional risks with your trust partner.4. Confront your trust prejudice, suspicions, fears and painful feelings around trust as you take calculated risks.
5. Learn from the process, rinse and repeat until you can consciously trust and know how to extend trust well.
The Elephant in the Room
The elusive obvious is that if you trust people, even when you do it well, you are inevitably going to be let down. People aren’t perfect. They make their choices and that doesn’t always work in your favor. Some people are not empathetic at all in their decisions. You’ll get hurt from time to time.
This is life.
They key here is not to avoid emotional pain, but to learn to hurt well.
Since no one is exempt from pain, you should aspire to endure it, to process it thoroughly and learn the right lessons, not those ‘lessons’ that come from fear and avoidance. This means feeling things fully.
It means shedding tears of grief and loss. You can feel vulnerable and afraid and yet press on with faith that there are people in this world who are indeed worthy of your trust.Truly trustworthy people may be few and far between, actually. The good news is you only need a couple of people in your life that you know and feel you can trust deeply.
What to do next:
To learn how self-sabotage works, watch this free and enlightening video.
To learn more about learning to trust again, check out Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships.
For a list of the highest rated books on trust in relationships, click here.
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10 Signs You Have Trust Issues and How to Begin Healing