It’s great to have someone you can confide in. That one person you can just open up to, be yourself around and go to for support when times are tough. But for many of us it’s not that easy. We may have been hurt or betrayed, and so we feel like closing up is the best way to protect ourselves. Although it may protect us from getting hurt, it also makes it harder for us to create honest connections with other people and build healthy relationships with them.

Trust Failure
You may relate if in the past, you had your trust broken by those closest to you like family or friends. Maybe you were lied to, taken advantage of, or had your secrets disclosed. Maybe it made you start questioning other relationships. If those people who were supposed to be the closest to you broke your trust, who’s to say that someone else won’t do it? In order to keep from getting hurt again, you may have started closing yourself off to others. You may have started omitting certain details of your life, or hiding how you truly feel so that this information won’t be used against you.

We know that building a mental wall that appears to protect you from sharing too much can feel like a natural defense. But when you completely close yourself off, it can also have negative consequences. It can lead to:

  • Stress. Constantly guarding yourself is a strenuous job!
  • Negative self-talk. When you hold all these emotions in they can become heavier and heavier. You may become sad, angry or frustrated with yourself.
  • Loneliness. You can even begin to feel more alienated by always trying to hide how you really feel.

Risks and Rewards
When we meet new people and share a bit of ourselves we are never certain if that person is going to have good intentions. It’s a risk. But it’s a risk that may turn out to be positive so we choose to take it because the relationships and rewards we find are worth it. Taking any risk is still scary, though; so some of us may shy away, or feel the urge to build that mental wall.

It may seem scary to try to trust people, but it’s never too late to make a positive change in your life. We have to remember that just because someone else was wrong for breaking your trust, their actions have nothing to do with you. The actions of other people should not stop you from opening up and building new connections.

Learning to Cope 
It’ll be challenging to open up and we may get hurt again, but building resilience is part of the process. We all have to learn to open up and it’s a skill that improves with practice. It takes time and effort to open up again so be patient with yourself. Here are some suggestions that may help you start building trust with a friend or family member:

  • Start off slow.
  • Talk about things you like and are comfortable with.
  • Find out if they have similar interests to you.
  • Try doing some activities together and just build up your comfort level.
  • Listen to what they say for clues about how much they are opening up to you.
  • When you feel comfortable start sharing some stuff about yourself and take it slow.

What are some other ways you can slowly build up your trust? Feel free to share in comments. There’s no wrong answer here. The goal is to form healthy and positive relationships. Remember that regardless of the actions of others, you choose who you want to be. Don’t let other people’s poor choices stop you from being happy, opening up and meeting some great people!

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