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Do You Find it Difficult to Trust Others?

trust

Are you naturally trusting, or do you tend to be suspicious of other people’s motives? Have you ever been taken advantage of by someone you trusted? Do you feel that trusting others is naive?

Sadly, there is no shortage of people in this world who will try to take advantage of you. How many weird emails do you get telling you that you have won a lottery, or there’s a question about your item on ebay, or that you are the beneficiary of millions of dollars from overseas someplace? What do all these messages have in common?

Someone is trying to take advantage of you

Does this mean that it’s unwise to be trusting of others? Well, sometimes it is unwise, but then again, being suspicious of everyone you meet is not a very positive way to live your life. So what’s the answer?

Before we delve into answers, let’s consider how we are affected by our own attitude toward trust. As with everything else, your level of trust, or suspicion, sends a subtle message to those around you. People respond to that message in various ways, and their response will have a direct impact on your happiness and your quality of life.

How do you feel when you meet somebody, and right away you sense that they don’t trust you?

Consider three possibilities:

1) Does it make you feel like you have to prove that you are trustworthy? That’s not a very comfortable feeling because it immediately puts you on the defensive.

2) Perhaps it causes you to jump to negative conclusions about that person, thinking, “what is their problem anyway?” In this case, you reacted with suspicion to their lack of trust. Again, not a comfortable feeling.

3) If you are someone who struggles with a lack of self confidence, how do you think it would feel to have someone who doesn’t even know you, be suspicious of you? Needless to say, it is very difficult to build self confidence with that kind of negative emotional feedback.

In all three of these examples, having someone else treat us with a lack of trust had a negative influence on our mental and emotional state. If that is how they made us feel, we need to ask ourselves…

Are those the feelings I want to bring out in other people?

The truth is, we don’t like it, and neither do they. Now, let’s look at the flip side. How does it make you feel when you first meet somebody, and you immediately sense that they are trusting toward you? It makes you feel good, right? In fact, you like that person right off, don’t you? If they make you feel good, and you like them, you are much more likely to treat them with respect in return.

If you want others to treat you with trust and respect, do the same for them. In most cases, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Trusting others sets up a subconscious desire in them, to live up to your trust. Many times, that is all that is needed to help them rise to the occasion.

Everybody likes approval

Trust is a form of approval, and when someone else feels your approval, they will generally respond in a very positive way. Approval is one of the strongest motivators there is. People seek out approval, and will go to great lengths to gain it. If they view you as a source of approval, they will feel drawn to you without even realizing why. Making people feel good about themselves is a win-win situation.

Successful relationships are built on trust

The more we count someone as trustworthy, the higher they rate on our internal people-meter. Obviously, complete trust is something that must be earned. But, could we begin every relationship by giving the other person the benefit of the doubt?

Who do you like to do business with, and who are your best friends? The answer to both of those questions is directly related to who has earned your trust. When we feel that we have good reasons for trusting a company and their products, we become repeat customers. When we feel that we have legitimate reasons for trusting other people, they become our friends.

Now, let me ask you this: who is the most important person in your life? Isn’t it the person that you trust above all others? Trust is a factor in all positive relationships. The greater the level of trustworthiness, the stronger the relationship.

Back to our opening question

In a world where some people are looking to take advantage, is it unwise to trust others? Only if you have some legitimate reason not to trust them. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about trusting somebody you just met with your newborn baby or life savings. All we are talking about here is the attitude you project toward people you meet for the first time. So use common sense and exercise caution when caution is called for.

But, don’t let the spammers and scammers of this world mold your opinion of people in general and rob you of your happiness. If you greet most people with trust and give them the benefit of the doubt, you will not be disappointed. Helping others to feel good about themselves will raise the quality of their life, and yours.

What do you think about this approach?
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35 Comments

  1. Rocket Bunny February 8, 2011 Reply

    I think a certain amount of information should remain private in all cases. This also is a form of trust. Couples feeling that they have to exchange their passwords is crazy to me. Frankly my best girlfriend and my brother know my passwords and I don’t have a problem with that. I believe trust until you are given a reason not too, but don’t set your self up to become vulnerable to anyone.

    • Hi Bunny, I thought your statement: “trust until you are given a reason not to, but don’t set yourself up to become vulnerable to anyone” showed a nice sense of balance. Of course, total trust always involves some vulnerability; otherwise we wouldn’t call it trust. Certainly, we would reserve that kind of trust for those who a likely to handle it responsibly and considerately.

    • detra edwards January 30, 2014 Reply

      I disagree with that. You have to go into everything eyes wide open and trusting everyone blindly just until they do you wrong is a mistake. That can cost you your life. All of us trust to an extent, but we do it at certain levels either consciously or subconsciously. For example I bet you wouldn’t just pick up 2 random dudes on the street who asked you for a ride. To do this you would have to trust , because you trust someone unless you give them a reason not too. That’s unsafe. With that being said trust but verify, trust but ask questions, trust but be suspicious, and trust but pay attention. Trust doesn’t mean you have to be blind.

  2. Sibyl Chavis February 8, 2011 Reply

    Jonathan: I think this is a great post and message. I have noticed that when I do give people the benefit of the doubt and expect the best of them, it is more often than not that they are deserving of that categorization. While it is true that you may run into those people that can’t and shouldn’t be trusted, it is more likely that we will run into good people if we are willing to look at them in a good light.

    • Hi Sibyl, I too have noticed that when trust is shown, many will rise to a higher standard. Every individual is different and we often get subtle signals one way or another. I am a big believer in paying attention to those signals.

  3. Debbie @ Happy Maker February 8, 2011 Reply

    Jonathan, this is very good information. Yes, there are a lot of very dishonest people in this world, but on the other hand there are a lot of wonderful people in this world. I say give everyone a chance (not with your newborn or savings as you say), but give them a chance until they prove you wrong. Treat them like you want to be treated and you will always come out just fine.
    Debbie

  4. Frank February 8, 2011 Reply

    Jonathan,

    Outstanding topic. I believe everyone should be given a chance to prove their reliability and I am an extremely outgoing person but trust is something I have issues with. I am a stickler on credibility. In order for me to wholeheartedly trust someone they have to have a track record of trustworthiness.

    This might come from my experiences of running into a lot of shady characters. I know your advice is not to go around trusting people who are clearly scam artist but I will start to give more people a chance to get behind my fort of heavy defenses and open up to an unknown world of trust.

    I trust your judgment Jonathan.

    I feel like this was a personal challenge that you wrote just for me and I will take it. :-)

    • Hey Frank, really, we all have trust issues, even if we want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt experience has taught us that doing so can be dangerous. So there is a little internal battle that goes on between the idealistic feeling that says we should be more trusting, and the voice of experience that says remember what happened last time.

      This is where discernment comes in. We trust incrementally as that trust is earned. The challenge is in remaining balanced (as always). For or own peace of mind we need to avoid being overly suspicious and defensive, but at the same time, we can’t be so naive as to blindly trust others who haven’t demonstrated trustworthiness.

      I am honored that you feel you can trust my judgment Frank. I’ll do my best not to disappoint, but please remember that I am just like everyone else. We all make unintentional mistakes, and hopefully, we all learn from our mistakes and are willing to make adjustments accordingly.

  5. Stuart February 9, 2011 Reply

    There are scammers and spammers out there in many different forms, always ready to try and take from us as much as they can. But that’s not to say everyone like is that.

    There are some truly wonderful people in this world, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few of them. They balance out the negative others. Actually I reckon in this world, there’s a very fine balance that’s always kept in check.

    Thanks Jonathan :-)

    • Hi Stuart, I feel like we all have the responsibility to do our personal best to be part of that group that helps tilt the balance toward the trustworthy side.

  6. jane May 11, 2011 Reply

    I think we need to put less on us than on the person who does not trust others, after all, if they could trust others they would.
    I think they need to realize though that they need to heal their distrust of others, but not get hung up on how their lack of trust would upset others, after all, they don’t want the added stress of knowing they are causing others too feel bad. If they could trust they would!!

    Energy psychology perhaps could help with trust issues..

    • Hi Jane, I appreciate the level of compassion and understanding expressed in your comment. It says a lot about you as a person. :)

      • jane November 7, 2011 Reply

        Thank you Jonathan, I appreciate your comments, meantime, I continue to work on my own healing journey…

  7. Alexander Zilo August 8, 2011 Reply

    Very informative post but not altogether convincing as it just touches the surface of trust issues.

    • Hi Alexander, the subject of trust issue is both complex and involved. In fact, it has been the subject of many books and coaching sessions. Obviously, only so much can be accomplished in one article.

  8. Leslie November 6, 2011 Reply

    I must admit that I am a sceptical person and although I want to believe the best in people I do find it somewhat difficult. I have learned through time to weigh conversations and options before committing to anything or sharing private information. This method has kept me relatively safe without alienating anyone worth knowing and trusting.

    • Hi Leslie, your approach seems very well balanced to me. It is foolish to openly trust everyone we meet and it is limiting to refuse to trust anyone. The only reasonable approach is cautious optimism.

  9. Bellamy November 7, 2011 Reply

    I have always believed that to gain someone’s trust, you have to put your trust in them. But it doesn’t seem to be working for just this one relationship that I have. I have a friend, she has a very similar character to mine. We have the same train of thoughts and could easily understand each other. We’re also both very reluctant to give intimate details to people. However, I’ve grown to trust her. We’re both very honest about our thoughts, opinions and feelings and when she asked me to give the website address of my blog, which I told no one before, I refused. I eventually gave in as I thought I had nothing to lose. This blog of mine has always been private because it contains my very intimate feelings, thoughts and experiences for the past few years, most of which that I do not share with people. I also gave her the website address to my blog in hopes that I could in return, get to know the website address to her blog. Before I told her my blog address, I offered a trade, she tell me hers and I’ll tell her mine. She refused since she is strongly against letting people know her blog address as it too contains intimate details of her experiences for the past few years. Even though I know she wouldn’t tell me her blog address at that time, I was hoping that she would some day trust me enough to tell me, but it has yet to happen. I never really pursued the matter as I have always respected her; her privacy included. But it pretty much brings me down to know that she does not trust me enough and the fact that she hasn’t been completely open and honest as I have been with her. What do I do? I have thought of simply telling her that “I’d expect to know her blog address some day since I have been putting my trust in her”, since like I said, we’re both honest people, but somehow I don’t wish to make her feel pressured to tell me. I would prefer her telling me at her own accord and free will. So yup, back to my question, what do I do? Just wait for it to happen?

    • Hello Bellamy, doing all we can to prove ourselves to be trustworthy is a sound strategy when trying to gain someones trust. Still, there is no way to actually make someone trust us. The best we can do it to try and influence their opinion of our trustworthiness (as you have done), but the decision is still theirs. Some people have deep trust issues based on emotions and experiences that prevent them from trusting others. While mutual trust may seem like the fair response from your friend, unless she is willing to open up to you and explain her issues, there really isn’t much that you can do.

  10. Irene November 21, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan, (first of all please forgive my english as I am Greek)
    Your article is very helpful when it comes to a general approach to trusting and being trusted. But what happens when, for instance, we do trust someone because they we had no reason not to, yet there is a feeling deep inside that we shouldnt? If we trusted someone to a certain level (in a “love” relationship” trust was broken after a year as he had mega issues with his ex. It drove me mad and I read his messenger history to find out he was flirting with a couple of girls including his ex) Is it possible to regain that trust? Is that “uh-oh there’s something shady about him” feeling the voice of instinct or the voice of insecurity? Should a second chance be given after someone has broken your trust? He is a bit secretive about “us” around strangers and in general doesn’t act like a “boyfriend” when in the presence of others. He only says “I love you” when I’m wrecked and ready to leave him. He says that’s who he genuenly is,he has a problem expressing and that he is hiding nothing at all and that I should trust him. He stresses SO much on the word “trust” and has tried-in his way- to prove me wrong about the distrust I have for his true intentions. He has also told me that my problem is not that I don’t trust him but that I don’t even trust myself. I can’t tell him that I’ve been through his personal messaging history, not only am I embarrassed for doing so but I won’t ever find out the truth as I believe he will try to make excuses and manipulate the situation, but also he’ll get so upset and agry he will instantly break up with me and say “I thought you were different. You’re just like HER after all” (he hated his ex and always says she was paranoid,jealous and that ruined a part of his life when he thought they were soulmates) We are together for almost 4 years now and I am seriously struggling, it is the first long term relationship I’m in and I have never felt this way before. I have been betrayed in horrible ways by friends and family so I do have trust issues in general. I would just love to know how the heck do you start trusting again. I do love him so I want this relationship to work but I don’t know what the difference is between “gut feeling” and “insecurity” anymore. Even if I end the relationship, what I really want is to NOT have insecurities and trust issues afterwards with other people. Help a 29year old gal here, how does one start trusting again?

  11. Hi Irene, trust is a valuable yet fragile thing. Trust also doesn’t just happen, it needs to be built into a relationship. This means that first, both partners need to recognize what is required for their mate to trust them. And second, they need to be willing to work at it. I can’t tell you what to do in your relationship, but in my experience, when you feel that you can’t trust someone there is usually a reason. You will trust when someone cares enough to act in a way that allows you to feel reassured and confident that they will never betray that trust. Once wounded by betrayal, it’s hard to let yourself be vulnerable again. A truly loving and compassionate partner will understand and do what it takes to help you.

    • Irene April 9, 2013 Reply

      Thank you, Jonathan. You are absolutely right and I appreciate the time you took to answer.
      The relationship ended 3 weeks ago (I did it). It was very painful but I feel good about myself and very proud of myself for realizing the most important thing: staying with someone who doesn’t deserve your trust is distrusting yourself and not caring for yourself, not loving yourself enough. We all deserve partners who are truly caring and as long as we hold on to fears and submissiveness (I’m sorry if the word isn’t correct,my native language is greek), we forget how to take care of ourselves and expect the wrong ones to do it for us. As long as we allow people to manipulate our trust we will never be happy,peaceful and trust issues will always come up, again and again. The secret is to trust ourselves enough that even if and when we fall, we WILL be ok to get up again. Being vulnerable is scary but being a human wall is even scarier.

  12. Jenn February 27, 2012 Reply

    While I realize the importance of trusting people in life, I do believe it is wise to be suspicious of others. Trust earns respect, but suspicion guarantees safety. I don’t know, would you rather be safe or sorry? Believe me, I understand in some situations you just gotta have faith. I also realize the dangers of too much suspicion leading to paranoia, also likely leading to mass hysteria such as with the Salem witch trials. But those who are too gullible and too trustworthy tend to get hurt. Of course we should all learn from our mistakes, but I believe you should work towards trust with one another as opposed to just automatically trust someone. I also believe it’s best to follow your instincts.

  13. Lee April 7, 2013 Reply

    What about emotional trust? I find it difficult to be around many people — because I’m sensitive to their communication styles. I tend to be very genuine and honest. I put a lot of care into what I say or at least share — and if people are judgmental or critical I tend to not want to share anything with them .. I know I am sensitive in this way — but I don’t want to continue to share and feel hurt. In that way my trust is effected. If this was something that happened once in awhile I think I could address it directly, but it seems like something that happens constantly..

    How to deal with small bits of distrust that happen constantly.. I tend to be someone who likes to be very genuine in my communication style.. If someone is critical or judgmental — it can throw me off and I find it hard to enjoy being around so many people who are not sensitive in that way..

    This also brings up that general sense of “trust in the world”.. Sometimes people say they do not trust, but do so many things that require a trust that they might not even be aware of. For me, my upbringing I believe caused a lot of distrust. And because of this, even everyday things seem to take more trust than I have. I guess you have to have enough trust to do the things you want to do – or at least take the risk. For me, one of the things I want to do most is build positive healthy relationships — and this is very difficult without a general sense of trust in others — and when others seem to be distrustworthy in so many ways..

    • detra edwards January 30, 2014 Reply

      In your case I would say trust is give and take. Give a little info and then see if the person returns the favor. That builds trust. Good luck!

  14. Lauren November 10, 2013 Reply

    In my experience, my fears and insecurities lead to a lack of trust in relationships because I am always looking for reassurances that my fears and insecurities are not true and judging myself whether or not that person can be trusted. The problem with this approach is that my judgment is subject to my own fears and insecurities that I am biased to believe, so I often judge a person to be not trustworthy (whether they are or are not), which only serves to reinforce my fears and insecurities. Recognizing that security and peace within myself is part of my challenge when trying to trust others has helped me make changes in myself and have some control over my ability to trust others.

  15. Isabella January 15, 2014 Reply

    In all but one area of my life since my personal development growth over the past 7 years I have no issues with trust. However with regards to relationships I just don’t feel trusting enough in my judgement as all my other relationships turned into controlling me and lowering my self worth. I have been so happy being single for many years, living my dream, doing whatever I desire and building an online business in personal development that I just can’t seem to get the guts to put out there that I am ready for an intimate relationship. Hopefully through me teaching personal development I will learn on how to trust in that area that all will be well if I do ever meet someone in my life.

  16. detra edwards January 30, 2014 Reply

    I must be weird cause, if I meet someone for the first time or even a few times and they don’t trust me I don’t think badly of them. I actually admire that they don’t trust so easily because I perceive people who trust to easily as gullible. Real trust is earned in my opinion. Trust is the same thing as loyalty to me and why would anyone be loyal to you if they don’t know you?

  17. JANE January 30, 2014 Reply

    Further interesting comments on the issue of trust. I was reading that if we don’t have trapped feelings of lack of trust, then we are less likely to feel distrustful of others, however , I do not feel the world we live in, is one where to completely trust people is actually safe! I think we always need to have some caution, but not so much that we cannot interact with people in a comfortable way, however, one does have to realise , not everyone has your good intentions, so please do not get taken to the cleaners……there will always be the odd person here and there who sees you coming…….just be aware that is all I suggest.

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