Many people who do not trust others often point to “stories” from the past where they gave their trust and it was abused. New people in their life then have to pass various strict tests, in a way being held accountable for the deeds of complete strangers to them from the untrusting person’s history.
In cultish relationships this is of course abandoned and selective trust is given where the connection is either based on dominance, addiction or ownership. The cult of two (often surrounded by a collusive circle called “friends”) develop their own warped logic about how trust is dealt with, the cult leader nearly always making the cult member trust no one but the cult leader!
Often, when codependency is at the heart of a trust relationship, rthe trust can take two forms. It can either be that the two involved believe that they can only really trust each other or, worse, one becomes dependent on the other being untrustworthy, even as the other needs the first to be utterly trusting. Often the two together will create targets outside of their “nation of two” to mistrust.
Not being able to trust a new person in your life, because of past fears, is understandable, but ultimately turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s a difference between healthy caution and paranoia. Paranoia nearly always leads to the seeking of evidence, using biased methods, in favour of a desired (or feared) conclusion or outcome.
Trust is an enlivening thing, a positive step, and it often only comes about when past baggage is finally dropped. Doing that is a free act; freedom (yet again) is a prerequisite.
A few more thoughts:
Mistrust also arises from an imagined self-image. A self-image can be based on one’s experiences and also personal reflection based on feedback from others. But it can also be based on mistrust. This leads to one’s idealism being turned to a projected cynicism.
Several people in the discussion admitted that they have, in their lives, assumed the worst intentions of others (obsessional behaviour, personal attack, hidden agendas etc), based more on their own insecurities often generated by a controlling partner, or through the habits of upbringing or past trauma.
Mistrust is then not grounded in fresh and original experience of new people at all. Indeed the person “doesn’t know who or what to trust anymore”, and they tend to cling to the people they either feel guilty towards or who they can “lean on”. Often this simply magnifies the projected, imagined mistrust to the point where they see threat from all quarters and fashion defences that are not only unnecessary, but also warped and mostly ineffective. This can spiral out of control and lead to depression, or the escape into narrow forms of experience (a partner for life who doesn’t really fit the bill, a safe job, a narrow social circle, living alone etc).
Mistrust gets “reverse telescoped”, focused on one or two individuals, upon whom the mistrust can be instensified, creating a sense of certainty in the one lost in mistrust. They are called every name under the sun that casts mistrust and doubt on their motives and behaviour.
The best way through the trap of mistrust is, of course, reconciliation – open, warm dialogue, sharing stories and much interaction and listening. It takes a step of faith and courage to break free of a cycle of mistrust. And usually it requires climbing out of the hole one is in. Always the first step seems the hardest… It so often leads to a realisation that people are what we wish them to be, not what we fear them to be.
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