Let’s talk about trust. I know that you have a lot of questions and worries surrounding not only whether your MLCer will ever be trustworthy, but also whether you will be able to trust again. Your ability to trust is separate from another person’s trustworthiness and so the worry is that you will either trust too quickly or you will withhold trust from a deserving person.
This post is not going to be about rebuilding trust with others because before you can do that, you need to fix your broken trust function; you need to learn to trust again—when, who, how… Distrust is a lack of trust based on experience. You have learned to distrust your MLCer. Mistrust is a more generalized lack of trust based on fear of trusting anyone. Sure, I’m all about the Unconditionals like Grace, Agape and Forgiveness; so, let me be clear: Trust is not an Unconditional. It must be earned; not everyone is worthy of your trust. But even if your MLCer is becoming trustworthy, you’re not ready if you’re not yet trusting yourself which is more about being mistrusting rather than simply distrusting. Set aside the work you need to do in the future that’s about trusting others and give yourself the gift of healing you. Let’s help you become someone who is ready to offer themselves fully to another person in a relationship, whether that’s with your MLCer in reconciliation, or someone else.
Detriments and Benefits of Trust
Mistrust enables anxiety and paranoia, these in turn lead a person to attempt to control as many aspects of life as possible in order to prevent their fears and alleviate their anxiety. Healthy trust facilitates lower stress, social connections and bonding, whereas mistrust can lead to isolation and loneliness—even when in the midst of a crowd. In turn, positive social connections enable you to feel self-confident and more at peace since you aren’t fearful of getting hurt. Higher levels of resiliency and satisfaction are a function of the ability to trust. Resiliency is especially important; it’s about how well you handle and bounce back from life’s challenges.
Trusting too quickly and withholding trust from those who are deserving are both fear-based, the former is meant to avoid the anxiety and isolation of mistrust, whereas the latter is about putting up walls to avoid getting hurt. Neither are healthy. Instead, learn to trust mindfully. Mindful trust accepts human fallibility. We’re not perfect, each and every one of us has the capability of deception and betrayal. Mindful Trusting begins with trusting yourself.
An assured reliance that a person will act within certain parameters that are based on experience through time within the context of present conditions and recent history rather than intentions. It’s a response of assurance in both actions and emotions. It refers to relationships and how a person treats others and is about feelings and emotions rather than acquired skills. Belief is about can and Trust is about will.
Emotional trust is about being honest and true to your word; this is the first piece destroyed by betrayal. It’s also about being your authentic self and being safe and responsible with the emotional vulnerability of others. Betrayal continues to erode these other pieces because a betraying partner often projects blame and twists circumstances, often using their partner’s fears, sins and mistakes as a weapon against them. Are you trustworthy or are you stuck in poor-me victim mode which is based on vengeance and blaming others for your failure (thus far) to recover?
Before it’s even possible to trust others, you must be able to trust yourself.
Elements of Self-Trust
- Common Humanity
Mindful Trust requires that your authenticity and self-compassion exceed your fear of betrayal. As long as you fear betrayal more, you’ll direct your energy into your fears and will lack a foundation for Mindful Trust. Those elements are about how much you honor your core values.
Compassion is about recognizing suffering in conjunction with a motivation to alleviate it. Kristin Neff, Ph.D., an expert in self-compassion, explains it in three elements.
This is about relieving your suffering and accepting your failings and imperfections by offering yourself comfort and care and soothing yourself. Its opposite is self-judgment which is about criticizing and even punishing yourself for your failings.
This is about unity or the idea that we are one. It’s a recognition that we aren’t alone in our experiences or our failings. Its opposite is isolation. The Why My or Poor Me victim mindset are based in this opposite because that attitude or feeling separates you as singled out for punishment and suffering.
Mindfulness is about awareness with a neutrality that doesn’t suppress or deny pain, but also does not over-identify with it. It is about experiencing the present moment even when the present is unpleasant. Its opposite is over-identification which is allowing yourself to identify yourself with the labels of your experience. Is Left Behind Spouse who you are? Or are you more than that? Is that a label you can shed, or are you holding on to it?
I love forgiveness and I’m not alone when I say it is a gift you give yourself. Could this be more true than when you’re forgiving your Self? Forgive yourself for believing lies or not seeing the signs, for loving, for getting upset and even angry. Forgive yourself for being an imperfect spouse or an imperfect Stander. Forgive yourself for how you feel about your MLCer in those moment of anger—those feelings are normal! If you are unable to forgive yourself, how do you expect to trust—yourself or anyone? The need to forgive is based on something being done against you—a violation of a basic trust.
We trust people who seem genuine. To thine own self be true. Authenticity is about your actions being consistent with your beliefs and values. To be authentic you must know your Self as well as be your Self. This is about being true to your words and actions. Dr. Seuss’ elephant Horton is one of my favorite examples: I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent! Horton trusted himself because he knew he would be consistent to his word—his promises.
Given the context of midlife crisis and betrayal, your lack of trust in yourself likely came about because you made yourself vulnerable. Your husband or wife was your intimate partner not just physically, but also emotionally. You allowed your spouse to see and even experience your vulnerabilities because you felt safe with them. And now that’s gone. You got fooled and your sense of safety and solid structure is gone, replaced by a foundation of balloons.
Well, you know what? That vulnerability that you now hold tight, you need to bring it out again because it’s how you regain trust in yourself. The ability to trust yourself requires that you allow yourself to be vulnerable. I know that’s scary. You could get hurt again. That’s why you’re putting additional measures in place. You can get hurt again, but will you? The elements of trust work the other way to; they enable you to detect deception better and thus refuse to extend trust when necessary. Go ahead and let yourself be vulnerable, you’re strong and observant, kind and discerning and your senses will alert you when to put up your guard.
Accepting yourself means you are able to acknowledge both your positive and negative aspects from a place of neutrality and non-judgment; you are aware they exist. You are able to provide yourself with an unbiased self-measurement in conjunction with a lack of concern regarding criticisms that you are either boastful or self-judging. You know where you’re amazing and where you could be better or perhaps where you won’t ever be better and that’s okay with you! Self-acceptance is about loving the person you are now. Self-acceptance is not stagnation; rather it accepts who you are in each moment of a journey that progresses forward. It enables the other elements of trust—self-compassion, self-forgiveness, authenticity and vulnerability which makes it a key to establishing trust for your Self.
Mindful trust is not a goal, rather it’s a natural byproduct of trusting in yourself. Once you are able to offer yourself the gifts of compassion, forgiveness and acceptance you will feel more confident and accepting of being and showing your true Self to the world, these fix your broken trust detector naturally.
I know that you may still be wondering about trusting your MLCer–or someone else. How can you know if they’re trustworthy? I’ve created a cheat sheet to help you determine whether a person is likely to resort to negative or positive methods of problem resolution. Negative solutions may lead to negative actions such as those you’ve been familiar with during MLC–like infidelity.