by Joan Heartfield, PhD

Trust is a funny thing. We want to feel trust. In order to relax and be most deeply connected to one another and ourselves, we need to feel trust. And yet, it can be elusive. In many relationships, it comes and goes.

Trust is connected to our hearts. When we feel trust, our hearts can open. When we perceive trust is broken, our hearts close.

What creates trust in the first place?

When we come in as babies, we have no choice. We are helpless and we need to be cared for in order to survive. We have only our cries to communicate our needs for food and comfort. If we got at least enough food, and enough minimum care, we survived. But how did our parents or caregivers feel about us? If we had parents, how did they feel about one another?

Did we feel really loved? Did we come into a family that wanted us? Were those who cared for us relaxed enough and stable enough and supported enough to be able to care for us? Or were our caregivers so anxious, fearful and frustrated with their own lives that they could not really feel us?

Being able to trust, or not, is experienced early in our lives. Were we treated with some consistency? Could we trust that food and water was there when we needed it? Could we trust that if we got hurt, we could get help? When we needed to be held, was someone there to hold us? Were we welcomed into the family, or were we a ‘nuisance’?

Were our caregivers trustworthy? Did they do what they said they would do? Did they respect us, or hurt us? Could we trust what they told us? Did they break trust with one another, and, if so, did we see them fighting, and was there verbal or physical abuse?

Did we have siblings? Was there trust with them, or lack of it? Were there teachers, friends, girlfriends or boyfriends who broke our trust?

Our early experiences around trust, and they way we learned to react to trust being broken, has shaped our lives. We all have “broken trust” stories. We don’t trust men, we don’t trust women, because of something that happened in our past that gave us ‘good reason’ to feel that way. But do these blanket statements and fearful attitudes serve us? Is it true that (men) (women) are not trustworthy? And is there a deeper compass than our fear that can guide us to trust?

We have ourselves broken trust at some point in our lives. We did not follow through with our word. We did not love that person “forever’, the way we once though we would. We followed our own sense of what we needed to do, and for the person that expected we would keep our word to them, that meant we broke trust.

The truth is we may at times break trust, and others may break trust with us.

What can we do in the face of this fact? First and foremost, we can begin to discover how to trust our self. If we don’t trust our self, we can never trust anyone else. We project that lack of trust onto those around us.

How can I learn to trust myself? What can I trust in myself?

  • I can trust in the goodness of my own heart.
  • I can trust the voice of my heart, intuition, and guidance.
  • I can trust my body’s wisdom.
  • I can trust that my feelings are giving me valuable information, and that I can tune in and discover the reason for my feelings.
  • I can trust that I know when my energy or chi goes up or down, and use this as a barometer of moving in a direction, or not.
  • I can trust that I can be aware of my thoughts and take them into consideration.
  • I know my thoughts are a part of my conditioning, and I trust that I can be guided by my deeper truth, not by my conditioning.
  • I can trust myself in that I know what feels good, and what does not.
  • I can trust that if a thought or feeling makes me contract, I can find a better feeling energy to move toward.
  • And I can trust that when I take the time to track my body, emotions, thoughts and energy, and ask my heart for spiritual guidance, that my heart will guide me to my highest options.
  • I can trust that I am being guided, and in that guidance, is love.

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