TRUST ISSUES: Why Is It So Hard For People To Trust?

What is trust? Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Childhood experiences that contribute to trust issues.

There are numerous aversive childhood experiences that contribute to children’s mistrust and lack of confidence. For example, parents’ inconsistent responses or their failure to deliver on their promises create insecurity and distrust in their children. A parent’s frightening outbursts of rage can shatter a child’s trust in a predictable world. The betrayal of trust that occurs with sexual abuse as well as with incident of severe physical abuse over the long-term can trigger dissociative states in young victims. These events can also set up expectations of future betrayals or lead to certain blind-spot in an individual’s ability to accurately judge the trustworthiness of others.

These painful events in childhood leave unseen scars and have a profound impact on us throughout life. In an attempt to protect ourselves, we build a system of defenses against our pain, confusion, and disillusionment. Some of us vow never to trust anyone ever again; others become hyper-vigilant and feel determined to not be a “sucker.” If we were hurt by our parents’ dishonesty, we may see other people from a skewed perspective and develop harsh, cynical attitude towards them. These self-protective defense help us preserve an illusion of strength and invulnerability, yet these same defense limit our capacity for trusting others and for finding fulfillment in a close relationship. 

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