Trust can move mountains. It is surprising and inspiring what we do for those we trust in our lives. Steven Covey stated “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” With trust at the foundation of all relationships, it makes sense that strong trust leads to strong relationships and loss of trust can be painful and debilitating as they cause us to feel unsafe, uncertain, and afraid. At different times in our lives, we may have loss trust in someone significant in our lives. At other times, we may be the person who has betrayed the trust of someone we care deeply about. Although trust is often fragile and can be a slow-moving process, it nevertheless IS possible. It takes a lot of hard work, commitment, and patience by everyone involved. Here are some keys to rebuilding trust.
1. Perspective taking
When beginning to rebuild trust, it is important for both sides to first spend time developing understanding and empathy before moving to problem-solving mode too quickly. This does not mean we excuse or justify the actions of others, but it does mean that we seek to understand their experience and needs.
2. Open and honest dialogue
Ruptures in trust often disrupt communication between people. The pain that both are feeling makes it difficult to process what is going on. It is important that partners re-learn to share the most vulnerable parts of themselves with each other. That doesn’t mean that every single detail of the past needs to be shared (especially where there has been a betrayal, like infidelity). However, as couples restore open and honest dialogue, trust grows.
Boundaries determine what comes into a relationship and what is kept out. When trust has been compromised, it is important that both partners reevaluate, reestablish, and recommit to appropriate boundaries. The person who has been hurt and loss trust in their loved one should take the lead on what appropriate boundaries would begin to reestablish stability in the relationship. Initially, boundaries may be more rigid and specific, and as trust grows, those boundaries may become more flexible.
It is important that both partners take care of themselves. This includes physical self-care through healthy diet, exercise, sleep, and moderating substance use. Self-care doesn’t always have to be big (like a vacation). Sometimes, self-care consists of day-to-day moments when we do something to renew ourselves. Seeking the support of those closest to us is also a crucial form of self-care.
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