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Getting Over A Pattern Of Being Too Trusting / Distrusting

Reading through people’s stories here at Baggage Reclaim School, there’s a recurring theme of being too trusting or being hyper-vigilant and having a general sense of distrust. Both of these issues stem from the same thing – not feeling able or willing to trust you. This means you misplace your trust in others with it being based on assumptions and fear about your own judgement, or even no judgement of the situation, or you operate with a baseline of not trusting which means yeah you won’t trust someone who is untrustworthy but you won’t trust someone who he is either.

Three things will improve your ability to trust:

Learning how to trust you by showing you that you’re trustworthy and part of this process is getting to know you so that you have boundaries and values.
Positively learning from previous experiences and accepting the feedback. How on earth are you going to learn to trust you and others if you’re still wondering if you misjudged someone who took advantage of or even abused you? If you’re thinking, ‘Oh, maybe I was insensitive,’ then, when faced with similar situations, you won’t trust you to act because you’ll question whether it’s you being antsy instead of reconciling the information of their behaviour and previous experiences and thinking, ‘Hmm, here I go again. Time to exit. This doesn’t work for me.’
Using feedback from both words and actions and processing this information with self-knowledge along with knowledge of the person or the situation.

When you realise that you’ve been naive at times, or ploughed on regardless switching a code red to green, you can end up giving you a hard time. Because you’re likely feeling quite bruised by some of your experiences and wary of falling into the same traps again, when you’re faced with the types of situations where you’ve been caught ou,t such as dating, or making friends, or engaging with family etc., you will doubt you and them.

Trust is what comes about from experiences and mistakes. By positively using the insights gained from my previous experiences, I felt able to date, to forge relationships, including putting some effort into certain family relationships because I had a much clearer perspective on who I was as a person and what my needs were. I wasn’t afraid to recognise and deal with anything that raised a flag with my trust. And I realised that anything that I’m doing in my life or have done previously is helping me to learn, grow and make a better success of something the next time, or remove myself from people and situations that don’t work for me.

Your job is not to go out there and patrol the mean streets for assholic behaviour.

Your job is not to go out there and go from one extreme to the other with your trust levels.
Here are my recommendations for improving trust and freeing yourself from the chains of paranoia:

Ask you: ‘{insert name} Am I willing to treat me with the love, care, trust, and respect that I deserve? Am I willing to honour my boundaries and my values?’ If yes, then make a firm declaration to you that you are committed to acting in line with your own boundaries, values and needs. Also that if and when something should arise that poses a threat to these, or would cause you to be acting without self-esteem, that you will opt out as soon as possible or have whatever the active response is.

Put together a list of your ‘Cycle of Trust’ based on your old pattern of thinking and behaviour. Go through a typical pattern step by step from when you give trust to when you take it away/get hurt – what happens?

Example (and this is one of mine)

1. See a guy in a club or wherever that I fancy.

2. We catch each other’s eyes a few times.

3. Get that excited feeling in my tummy. (I later discovered that this was not ‘passion’ or ‘chemistry’, but twinges of familiarity with my pattern.)

4. Get talking. Find them quite funny or intelligent or tall or all three. Feel more trusting. Why would I feel more trusting on this basis? Slow down. Leave my trust levels at exactly where they were when I entered the club. I don’t know them! This is an example of where you can explore your beliefs and associations.

5. Within the first few days/weeks I’m on a high because we’ve snogged and they’re chasing me. Also, spot signs that are code amber or code red. Er, don’t ignore dodgy behaviour. Ever. You could use this as an opportunity to note previous code amber and red behaviour that you’ve ignored and what an alternative response will be. First stop – now that you know what it is, it’s being really aware of it especially if it’s coupled with the thought, feeling, and action processes in #1-#4.

6. Ignore these signs and up the speed of the romance as if this will obliterate it. I’m not addressing the issue. I’m papering over the cracks with romance. What did you typically think at this point? Note your code red thinking so that you can come up with responses and change the script.

7. Keep experiencing indications of the same signs – ignore them. Wonder what is wrong with me. Blame me. I’m not addressing the issue. I am making it about me. I need to take responsibility for ignoring signs and give them the responsibility of having these signs.

8. Think about doing something but afraid of looking stupid. Worry that people will go, ‘Oh, there goes Natalie again.’ Don’t worry about how I look to others – concern myself with treating me well. These people don’t know me, and it doesn’t matter! What’s the big deal about a date not working out? FLUSH!

9. Try harder. Stop making it about me. No over-compensating to save a relationship that I know is not right for me with a person I hardly even know! Now I know that people-pleasing is a code red alert that I need to step back and dial it down.

10. Things go bust for the very reasons I ignored. Feel very hurt. Feel angry at me for not stepping up especially since half the time I didn’t really fancy these guys, and they just weren’t that special. Step up sooner, and I don’t have to feel like this. I know I will have done my best by me and not sold me short for romance.

Now see the 10 steps above? What people do is decide not to do 1,2, and 3.

The answer isn’t to stop trying or trusting; it’s to change your habits around trusting.

Stick with operating on a Debit and Credit Trust System. This means you address you first, ensure that you’ve dealt with anything that you’ve been blaming you for and that you’ve reached a healthier perspective. You’re clear on your boundaries, know your values and needs, and are committed to living your life in a way that reflects the person that you say that you are. This gives you a healthy baseline of trust that you enter into each situation with – think 70%.

It means that you can go out and enjoy your life and deal with something when it happens as opposed to waiting for something to happen and being ready to strike. These latter two actions communicate distrust and this will be reflected in your actions and will fall into the cycle of the self-fulfilling prophecy.

You treat people as trustworthy until they show otherwise. This stops you from being naive or like a rottweiler. If they exhibit dubious behaviour on day 1, for instance, then this is flagging up to you that you should proceed with caution or back away, depending on what it is.

Increase your trust levels for repeated indications of trustworthy behaviour over a consistent period of time. Don’t increase your trust levels for superficial stuff.

Decrease your trust levels when you are experiencing discomfort, pain, concern etc., and there is external evidence to back up your concern. Also, decrease trust based on familiarity (if it feels like you’re repeating something in your pattern). This would indicate that you are engaging in code red behaviour and thinking because you’re repeating a pattern of behaviour and thinking that you know doesn’t work for you and that actually produces a certain set of results. Trust the feedback from these results and choose differently.

Do not increase trust with any form of assholic, disrespectful, abusive or problematic behaviour. You are at best on code amber, which is stop, look, listen and do not proceed until you are 100% clear on what is going on or you have removed yourself. If any of this behaviour shows itself within the days, weeks or months of knowing a person, it is a serious issue and what is being revealed is who they are. Don’t think, ‘They changed,’ do think, ‘They’ve unfolded.’

Don’t deny, rationalise, minimise, excuse or over-empathise with things that cause you concern, discomfort or pain. Call it as you see it – stop reading between the lines because it’s where bullshit springs from and you end up making dangerous assumptions about why something is happening.

Always have an Active Response to something that is a cause for concern that potentially or is already affecting your ability to trust. What’s the opposite of an Active Response? A Passive Response. When you do the latter, you don’t do anything, you blame you, you analyse the crapola out of it, you people-please, you say nothing, you make excuses, you judge you, and you basically do not have an assertive response.

Don’t snoop, track, spy or control. This is what people who are hyper-vigilant get up to. These are all forms of boundary-busting behaviour regardless of intent. It’s also a sign that you either 1) have knowledge that communicates that something isn’t right with this person/situation that you need to act upon but aren’t, or 2) you’re so scared of distrusting that rather than interact with the person and engage in the situation to put your powers of assessment to good use and then make your call, you’d just rather turn into a PI or even engage in stalking. If you feel inclined to do any of these, take these as a sign that you need to put your trust on pause or if you already have actual knowledge, it is time to debit your trust account and act accordingly.

Where does the distrust come from? Knowledge (external evidence, ability to compare against knowledge of this behaviour or type of situation, or internal – your insecurity about trusting again).

Example: You go on a few dates with someone whose company you enjoy, but on the fifth date, you are left feeling very uncomfortable when they make a sharp, critical comment that is inappropriate, they are quite mean about their ex, and you felt pressured about when you were going to be intimate.

1) I wouldn’t trust someone who would speak to you in that manner on a fifth date.

2) I’d run it through my system and compare it with knowledge of this type of behaviour and also compare it against what I know about me. Am I being ‘oversensitive’ because I never liked criticism from my mother, or was it an inappropriate comment? It was inappropriate – they don’t know me, but the manner in which it was said was also mean.

3) When I put it together with the comment about the ex and the dark undertones about sex, my spidey senses say, ‘Hmm, I’ve had some fun, but I don’t want to proceed. They’re not the person for me.’

4) I’ve been in a few of these situations – I know where this is headed. Now I can either make this about me and roll myself out like a doormat for someone I didn’t know five dates ago and still don’t, or I can recognise this as character unfolding and leave ’em to jog on.

#1 and#2 actually happen in a matter of seconds. Remember the classes on negative associations? You’re now training your mind to recognise inappropriate behaviour for what it is, and you feel it as discomfort.

#3 and #4 will follow in the seconds, minutes, hours etc., after the date.

What you don’t do is bust your own boundaries by disregarding this information. Even if you gave the person another chance with your trust account on pause or with a debit taken out taking it below 70%, you would then match subsequent behaviour and how you feel with the original experience, and you make a judgement call. ‘Yes, I was right,’ or ‘Yes, I was right, but it seems OK at the moment but I will pay attention’ – having a level of vigilance here is fine because you have received a warning. If you were wrong then it will show itself over time – it won’t be cancelled out by one or a few good dates.

Remain as you are. Do not change you in response to an ‘account flag’. By this I mean, do not change who you are as a person and turn into a doormat, or do something that busts your boundaries.

Don’t commit to something unless your trust levels have significantly increased from 70% based on consistent evidence over time. If you commit when you have doubt, then it’s a dodgy commitment that busts your own boundaries.

Listen to you where discomfort/feeling distrusting comes from. If it really is insecurity, this is fine. It may mean that you need to slow down or be mindful and stick to the present instead of worrying about what isn’t happening or trying to anticipate what’s next. Sticking to the present is where you build trust – not in your imagination.

Evaluate for any influencing factors. Let’s be real, when you’ve had some painful experiences, trust doesn’t come easy. That said, you still have to trust on merit. This means that if you are influenced by other factors, acknowledge them. It could be your health. It might be another issue that you’re dealing with someone else. It could be the past; it could be fears about starting over. Perhaps it’s an upcoming birthday or anniversary making you nervous or sad. Or maybe your ex is knocking on your door and putting you to the test, it might be hormones, it might be a disposition to be anxious. Listen to how you feel about these and evaluate what, if any, influence they are having on your trust levels. But remember, if you separate these circumstances from what you’re distrusting, would you still feel uncomfortable? Would you still be concerned? e.g., It’s all very well going, ‘It’s a year since my father passed away and it reminds me of a lot of bad things in my life,’ but what has that got to do with somebody disrespecting you?

Stick to merit. Yes, familiarity gives you a clue, but the truth is, a situation or a person can eff up and show you who and what they are without your past influencing it. Focus on facing forwards and stop saying, ‘But my ex did _______’, or ‘My father _________’ and look at what is going on now.

Don’t form baseless conclusions. Don’t go, ‘They’re doing _______, so this means __________ about me.’

Don’t isolate you. If you’re feeling isolated by your trust issues, you’re becoming a prisoner of your own doubt. What is the worst that could happen if, for instance, you trust someone to hang out them with a few times? Think about it for thirty seconds to a minute and imagine it. Is the worst even realistic? Is it even that bad? Can you imagine getting past it? The worst that’s going to happen if you go on a few dates and it doesn’t work out is that you have to start over and date someone else who could lead to a better relationship. The alternative is never to try again and feel miserable at home because you’re not trying. It’s a disproportionate response.

Make sure that when you listen to your gut, it’s your voice. Your gut doesn’t sound like your inner critic or a swirling pool of every dodgy thing that people have said to you.

Breathe. I learned this several years ago, as I discovered that I tense up when I’m stressed or in the throes of being super-suspicious. Breathe in and out through your nose if you can. Take very deep breaths and exhale slowly. It helps to calm you – being all tense is only going to increase anxiety. Breathe, and you’ll be able to think and see more clearly instead of responding to tension.

Stop expecting the worst. Beliefs and habits will have you choosing people and situations that reflect this.

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