Whether you are coming out of a bad breakup or trying to figure out how to be vulnerable and trust the online dating structure, I have some advice on why learning how to trust actually begins with you.
There are steps to cultivating trust. Trusting another begins with trusting ourselves. The shift may be imperceptible at first. It may even result in others experiencing a new, true part of us when we aren’t yet able to see it.
It took a long, hard look at betrayal and another at judgment to see that things aren’t always about me. People fail us, make up their minds about us, and withhold tenderness from us out of their own self-judgment and fear. We take this personally when it is so often all about them.
We each experience these fears and judgments deep inside. I began to trust my heart and had the courage to follow it when I began to address the voices of fear and judgment within myself. I wrote from that voice, or what I call my “inner critic crawl.” It’s sort of like the CNN crawl—that ongoing text at the bottom of the TV screen, but it goes on in your subconscious. I gave this voice a chance to speak so that I could experience her demands.
I heard “You should never let anyone see the real you because they’re just going to see how imperfect and unacceptable you really are. You’ll never be loved, and you’ll end up all alone.”
Harsh, right? By giving this part of myself a voice, I was able to clearly see how no one could live up to my inner critic’s expectations. I also began to see how no one judged me more harshly than I judged myself.
The process of cultivating trust created safety and relief. It became okay to admit things and really, honestly work on them. Work on me.
After discussing my secrets with trusted friends, I felt such relief. I discovered how much more energy it was taking to hold onto it than to be transparent and authentic.
Do you know what keeping a secret does to us internally?
In an article in the February 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, writer Martha Beck said, “Secrets are like stars. They’re hot, volatile concentrations of energy, and they have two ways of dying. Over time, small stars simply burn out and cool off, becoming what astronomers call white dwarfs. Massive stars collapse in on themselves, growing so dense that they create an immense gravitational vortex from which even light can’t escape. They become black holes.”
These “black holes” at the center of our lives—these masks that we wear—take an enormous amount of energy to maintain. There’s a wonderful Chinese proverb that expresses it well: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
And, those old voices of fear still taunt, but I have learned how to keep them at bay by overriding with love, trusting that I will never abandon myself again.
jump coverTrust. What is the cost of holding onto your mask versus the cost of letting go? Only you can answer that question, but it’s worth contemplating.
How could cultivating trust soften your world?