Anyway - my ability to trust has, for most of my life, been next to zero. Over time, I've learned that there have been situations where I should have trusted, and didn't, because fear and isolation ruled my life - I was trying to stay safe. As a result, I lost things that I wish I'd had in my life - relationships, primarily. I spent many years working on healing, and as a matter of course during that process, I developed and use something I call "active trust."
Active trust is where, even though your "heart" (your emotional self or mind) tells you not to let go and trust, you let your "head" (your rational self or mind) over-rule your heart and trust anyway. Active trust is an active, conscious process where you decide to let yourself become vulnerable because your mind - your head - tells you it's safe. Your mind and the logical side of yourself can assess and interpret a situation, and you can let yourself trust it.
Here's the thing - the key to active trust is being able to assess the situation and LET GO enough to try to trust. Trying leads to doing, in this case - and trying by itself is progress. It's not something you want to use in every situation - here's where you use your rational mind- but it is a useful "tool" to keep in your "recovery toolbox." (I'm even including it in the book I want to write!)
Does this mean that it's always the right thing to do? Heck, no. However, a person who has been through some therapy, or has a sounding board can use these resources to help them logically decide if trusting is a good idea. It won't always work - I won't lie - but it's also a good exercise in learning to trust again. You use your head to teach and help your heart learn to be open again. If I hadn't engaged in "active trust," I never would have trusted the man I'd met after leaving my ex-husband. He's now my husband and we have two more beautiful, incredible children. Active trust is a key in building relationships - we have to be able to trust in order to let people in and build understanding, have dialogue, and create relationships.
Active trust has also led me to believe that I have things I can share. I never would have had the courage to go into psychology - or go back to school at all - if I hadn't trusted the confidence that other people had in me, even if I didn't believe them. Today, I have a Ph.D., have a private practice that I'm expanding, and work with some wonderful colleagues at a clinic called "Beyond the Mirror." Active trust is something I use spiritually as well - I seek truth, and trust that I'll be able to find it.
I still have to use active trust - especially when it comes to relationship issues. Distrust, learned early and thoroughly, is difficult to overcome. It's especially difficult when compounded by unhealthy (former) relationships. Here's the thing, though - with the help of some good people (friends, my current husband, therapists, other caring people) and/or the courage to be willing to change, it IS possible. It's not easy - change never is. It is worth it, though - and life can be better as a result.
Please Note: The content on this blog is intended for informational purposes only. This is not therapy, and if you wish to work in therapy, please contact your local mental health agency or your physician for a referral. You may also contact me at (970) 776-6043 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you find yourself in an emergency or crisis situation, please seek help. It's a sign of strength and hope, and people will help. Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.