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Archive for April, 2011

How do you recover lost trust? In a person? In an idea?

Bonus: If someone lets you down or betrays you, how do you learn to forgive? And can you possibly learn to trust them again? Why or why not?

This topic is a very personal one for each individual. There are some things that may lead to totally losing trust and never recovering it.

For me, it is first important to truly forgive the people who have done the things that caused me to lose trust in them. For that, I go to Confession and discuss the item with my spiritual father. Releasing all anger and hurt are important. I pray for those who have used me so poorly that I have lost trust in them, daily – sometimes hourly. Every time I think about them, or the things they have done, I pray for them. As C.S. Lewis said, praying for them doesn’t change God, it changes me.

When I can, I sit down with the person I no longer trust and tell them, calmly, that I don’t believe I can trust them and exactly why. Then I ask him what he thinks he needs to do to regain my trust. In general, it involves not doing untrustworthy things, and to remain constant in this.

It takes time to regain trust. There has to be shared time without untrustworthy deeds occurring again. I will admit that I do tend to “test” the people who have lost my trust. Starting small, I give them opportunities to be trustworthy. If it was telling a secret or gossiping, I may drop a small “bomb” in a topic that won’t particularly hurt me or my family members. Then, if the person keeps that confidential, I will, perhaps, do the same thing several more times. These are tests of trustworthiness. I feel justified in doing this because I like being able to trust people, but I need to be sure a person who has breached that trust in the past has regained his trustworthiness.

If it isn’t something like gossip or breaching secrets, if it is something the person has done rather than said, I have to go through all the things I mentioned earlier, Confession, prayer, forgiveness, and then talking to the person. In this instance, it requires a long time – years – to be able to trust the person. He has to prove trustworthiness over a long period of time.

I’ve experienced this in the past. Some people, although I have forgiven them for what they did, I can never trust – because they continue to exhibit the same behaviors. I may have forgiven, I may love, but I don’t trust them. Forgiveness and trust and love are very different from each other.

I wish all the ability to regain trust and the ability to learn to trust again.

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