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3 Reasons it’s hard to trust people

You hear us talk a lot about trust here at Trueface. We want you to experience trusting God and others with who you really are, creating authentic relationships where you are truly known and loved.

 But what if trust isn’t an easy thing for you?

 We’d argue it isn’t an easy thing for most of us, depending on our past experiences and how we view both ourselves and our relationships. There are a lot of reasons you might be finding it hard to trust people, but here are three of the big ones.

 #1. You believe you have to protect yourself. 

 This one is a deep—and common—root. Many of us were taught from our early experiences that we need to protect ourselves from others. While serious issues of abuse and neglect are clearly deeply harmful, even the best-intentioned parents hurt their kids at times. They reply sharply, don’t notice distress, tell their kids how they “should” feel, or misunderstand what their child needs. All parents are humans too after all, with their own preoccupations, hang-ups and patterns.

Unfortunately, when we’re young, we don’t have this perspective. Many of us quickly internalize the understanding that we need to look out for ourselves, protect ourselves, and not trust others—after all, they might just let us down. This usually gets ingrained so early that we don’t know there’s another way. This is just “how the world works.”

This belief stays with us into adulthood, and often gathers more evidence. We get more sophisticated about it—we learn how to have relationships with others that we keep at arm’s length, ensuring we can still protect ourselves. Our core relational template is that others cannot be trusted, and we need to look out for ourselves. (One of my favorite resources for exploring these early relational templates is How We Love by Milan & Kay Yerkovich.) While understandable, this belief that others can’t be trusted doesn’t lead to deep, healthy, vulnerable relationships—and those relationships are what Jesus calls us to as one of the primary ways He weaves His joy, fulfillment, purpose and peace into our lives.

#2. Your hurt is holding you back.

 As we travel through this broken, beautiful world, we will be hurt. It’s a simple fact of living in a land of imperfect people and systems. We often have many reasons not to trust, based on our own experiences and relationships. If we don’t work through our hurt with Jesus, we let each one become a barricade to our hearts. Each experience with a flawed human becomes another reason not to trust.

 Unfortunately, all those barricades leave you alone—and it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).

 We are called to forgive from the heart, clearing those barricades we’ve set up to guard ourselves. This might sound impossible, and depending on the very real pain you’ve experienced, this might sound unfair or unfeeling. But Jesus is the expert at this. He’s walked this road in order to get to us, and He can lead you along it, too. You were not made to have a hardened, barricaded heart. You were made to have a soft, compassionate, trusting heart that is filled and protected by the Holy Spirit.

#3. You have unspoken expectations.

This one is more common than we realize. Most of us are walking around with unspoken, unclear, and potentially unrealistic expectations of those around us. We might not even be aware of our expectations, until someone breaks them! This is a recipe for hurt and broken relationships. One way this comes out is when we expect others to love or care for us in the same way we care for them. We get hurt when our friends or family don’t express their love for us in the same way we express it, and we internalize that as “I can’t trust them.” 

 Let’s put an example to this. Say Amy is going through a hard time with a family conflict. She and George get together, and George never asks her specifically how that conflict is going. Amy expects that if George cared, he’d ask about it. George expects that is Amy wants to share, she’ll bring it up. Now Amy’s hurt and feels like she can’t trust George as much, because George didn’t meet her (unspoken) expectations.

It’s awkward, and difficult, to have conversations about our expectations. It takes courage, and it takes self-awareness (because if you aren’t aware of your expectations it’s pretty hard to convey them to someone else!). But if we carry around unspoken expectations, it’s only a matter of time before our trust feels flimsy, unbeknownst to the person on the other side. So choose to step out in courage, and communicate your expectations.

 How can I apply this today?

1.     Spend some time getting familiar with your past and your expectations. Some good questions to ask yourself are: What was modeled for me growing up? Where am I holding on to past hurts, and letting them affect my current relationships? What do I expect from those around me to keep my trust?

2.     Step out in courage and share some of these answers with those in your life. These past stories and wounds can help others understand us better and sharing them can actually build trust itself. Additionally, talking through your expectations can help get you both on the same page, so you both understand what trust looks like to you.