Trust…the five letter word that takes so long to earn and can be lost within a few seconds.
As a couple’s therapist, I can’t recall one issue that has walked through my door that didn’t have a bit of trust issue in it. This post focuses on the partner who was hurt and struggling with trust.
If you are trying to figure out if you can trust your partner you want to consider these three questions.
1. What is my gut telling me?
It’s hard to do but try disregarding your head and your heart for a few minutes. Pay special attention to your gut (A.K.A. your intuition).
What is your inner voice telling you about trusting this person again?
Do you feel that he or she will is remorseful and truly sorry for their behavior?
Our gut helps keep us safe and away from danger. However, we typically dismiss it because it’s not what our heart wants to hear. If you find that your struggling with the “What if’s” check out my post on irrational fears.
If your gut is telling you that you are not able to trust your partner again you may want to listen to it. This can save you months or maybe years of future hurt.
2. Is trusting again worth the risk?
Making the decision to trust your partner after trust has been broken is a big decision and you will want to make sure you are doing the right thing. To trust again means you are taking a risk, there’s no other way to say it.
Some of the best things in life come from taking risks so make sure your partner is worth it.
If you have a hard time with being alone and always find yourself in a relationship make sure you separate that issue from this question. It may not be worth the risk of giving your partner another chance if it is solely based on you not wanting to be alone. If there is a part of you that thinks they may not be worth the risk, then you have your answer.
3. Am I closer to forgiveness?
Notice how I’m not asking if you have forgiven but only closer to it?
Forgiveness is different for each individual and it is a process.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is assuming that giving forgiveness means giving permission that what happened was okay. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You would never be “okay” with what your partner did, so don’t confuse this with forgiveness. Forgiveness gives you the opportunity to heal and possibly your relationship can too.
Your not being asked to forget what happened, but you are being asked to consider forgiving it. You will reap more benefits from forgiveness than your partner because you are the one carrying around anger not them.
If you are not closer to forgiveness you may want to re-evaluate the relationship because it will be required to find peace and healing.
Remember that learning to trust again is a process that requires two things: time and good behavior. Nothing can make the process faster.
Be realistic with your expectations. Your partner will not be filled with gratitude for the rest of your life that you forgave them. They will need time to heal themselves from the hurt they caused.
What questions do you think are important to consider when making decisions to trust again?
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“Your greatest self has been waiting your whole life; don’t make it wait any longer.”
Dr. Steve Maraboli
Often times if I chose to look at what is causing problems in my life I find that there isn’t anyone else to blame except myself.
It’s much easier and feels better to blame someone else. Being the victim is easier than being the one that needs to change. The problem I find is that playing this victim card only keeps me stuck. It often only makes me more angry, bitter, and frustrated.
I want change in my life but sometimes I don’t want to take the necessary steps for it to happen. It’s easy to say I want things to change but the hard part comes when I have to take action.
I have to be the one to decide if I want to take the challenge to get what I want which, also requires me to put in the hard work to get it. Here’s how I figured out how to get out of my own way.
I’m constantly beating myself up.
This is one of the most self-destructive behaviors anyone can do so naturally I’m really good at it. I struggled to see the positives in myself and often the situation I was in which made me feel weighed down.
Feeling this way caused the self-hatred cycle to continue. I know that hatred is a strong word but the way I was handling relationships and myself was destructive.
I had come to a point where I decided I needed to change. At this point in my life I was my own worst critic. There was no worse enemy than the one I was to myself.
These feelings were invisible on the outside, no one could see this going on with me but I could. It wasn’t until I saw just how much damage holding on to the guilt that I knew I had to change.
How I stopped
I had to get real with myself and this was a place I didn’t want anyone to see. I asked myself if I was helping or hurting myself by beating myself up so much. I knew the answer but had to face it and realize that by continuing this behavior it only pushed me further to a place of disgust and disappointment.
I knew I had to take action or I would continue to spiral down so I realized that I had to give myself permission that it is okay to make mistakes. I had to accept that all mistakes weren’t permanent and that self-forgiveness was the best chance I had at peace.
I had to be flexible with myself and not so rigid. I saw any mistake as unacceptable and every mess up (and there were many) as absolutely unacceptable. I needed to get to the bottom of my spiral to realize that only I could bring myself back up.
I would easily forgive a friend who made a mistake or asked for forgiveness so why was I holding myself to such a standard that I couldn’t do the same. I had to practice all of the time and often saying the words out loud was helpful because it allowed me to confront that inward critic.
I’m a people pleaser and saying “No” seemed impossible
I learned late in life of my inability to make another person feel happy or feel anything at all. It would have been perfect if I were taught as a child that I have no control of how another person feels, but that wasn’t the case.
There are many people in my life clients, friends, family, or others that really struggle with people pleasing. They feel they don’t have the right to say “No” to people due to fear that they will come across mean, unhelpful, or uncaring.
I had a hard time with the concept that I may be perceived as being rude or unwilling to help someone in need.
People pleasers often don’t speak up for their own needs because they don’t prioritize themselves and begin to “stuff and stack” their feelings. It would be too much to speak their mind so they just “stuff and stack” often until they find themselves using unhealthy coping skills to deal with the stress.
Overeating, reaching for anything with sugar, excessive drinking and a ton of other things to help avoid dealing with self. Also, it seems like many people pleasers can rationalize these by saying “I’m not hurting anyone” and “This is what I do for me.”
How I stopped
I started by saying one of the most powerful two letter words out there, “No”. Many people and situations will pressure me to say, “Yes, I can do that”. Even when I don’t want to say “yes”, I still do.
Speaking up, asserting self, and saying “No, I’m not able to” or “No, I can’t but maybe another time” is very powerful. Saying no doesn’t make me mean, ugly, or not helpful. It makes me in control of my own life…isn’t that the real goal?
Many times it’s my fears that keep me from speaking up so why not challenge myself and see if any of the worst-case scenarios that run through my head actually come true. Worst case a friend gets angry because I have to change plans or a family member gets frustrated because I’m unable to help out.
Each of these people have said “no” to me before and I didn’t blow a fuse so I deserve the same ability to say no to those that request of my time if I don’t want to give it to them. If I politely and assertively say no to someone, then they stay angry with me, then it is my responsibility to look at the role they serve in my life.
If someone holds a grudge against me for speaking up for what I need to do for my life, they may not need to be that important in my life.
My biggest challenge is learning how to get out of my own way. It’s not what others are doing to me. I know that no one could beat me up worst than I could myself, because I have a tendency to be really hard on myself.
No one can mess up my life. Only I can because I’m the one in control of it, regardless of how much I would like to blame others. I had to make the choice to see that the barrier in my life was me and given that fact, I had to do something about it.
Have you been able to get out of your own way?
What helped you to do this?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
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Do you have a hard time saying “No” when people ask something of you? Do you wish that it were easier to say “No” to people?
Think you’re the only one who gets irritated when someone asks something of you and you feel compelled to say, “Yes”.
Please know that you’re not the only one who feels this way. Once you get a better understanding of why you did this you will have an easier time saying “No”.
Top 3 reasons why you struggle with saying "No"
1. Fearful of how others will react.
What will people say about me? Will they think I’m being selfish or mean?
You don’t want to feel “guilty” for not helping out.
If your too concerned over judgment from others or how someone will perceive you then you will want to start by asking yourself the following question. “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I say No?”
How likely is it that the other person will tell you how selfish you are? Or that you should feel guilty for not helping out.
More than likely there is very little chance this will happen. If it does, oh well, you’ll work through it with the confidence that you did what was right for you.
If you continue to give this amount of weight to what others say or think about you then you will continue to be locked in unhappiness but at least you were nice to them.
2. It’s easier to be passive or passive aggressive.
It doesn’t take much work to avoid saying “No”.
Saying, “Yes” to everything is easy…at least until you realize that your exhausted and irritated. Being passive would be saying “Yes” to a request and then feeling resentful or angry at the person for asking.
Being passive aggressive would be saying “Yes” to a request but then gossiping about the person, rolling your eyes when they turn around, or thinking of a way to make them pay for asking your help.
It would be much harder to be assertive, by saying “No” and give a reason or not, you have the option. Most people don’t realize this that there is an option.
If you risk being assertive, you actually have a chance at achieving happiness or increased self-esteem.
3. You get something out of being frustrated, mad, or however you feel after you say “Yes, Yes, Yes”.
Sounds ridiculous right? Some people are comfortable being uncomfortable, so avoiding change is the easier route.
So what are you actually getting out of being a “Yes” person?
In your mind your getting the satisfaction that your being nice and not feeling guilty. Ask yourself…If I’m not getting something out of this why am I doing it?
How to say “No” to those who make request of your time or are too needy.
When did we as a society make the word “No” such a bad thing?
Think about it, we are suppose to be wiling and able to help others. Also to avoid at all cost anything that looks like narcissism, having a big ego, or focusing on yourself.
Asserting yourself and what you are willing or not willing to do has nothing to do with being self-centered. It has everything to do with being honest with you. If you can’t be honest with yourself who can you truly be honest with?
Try these 3 ways to say “No”
1. Stop and think quickly
You will likely want to stop and think if you want to say “No”. Many people automatically say “Yes” to people without fully thinking about it.
Maybe you feel pressured to give an answer when asked a question. One option is to say, “Let me think about it” or “I will need to check my calendar and get back to you.”
2. If you have an idea of what they may ask be ready ahead of time
Sometimes you may expect or anticipate that you may be asked for something.
For example, if you expect that you will be asked to volunteer at an event that you don’t want to attend. If you know that you don’t want to do something, go ahead and say “No, I’m not able to but thanks for asking” or “No, I don’t have the ability to make that happen.”
When being direct and to the point you may be surprised at the reaction you get. You will likely here one of these responses, but keep in mind this isn’t an extensive list because people are very creative when they want something.
-Okay no problem
-They will ask again in hope they can change your mind
-They plead with you and try to force you to say “Yes”
Just remember to be firm and clear because you have the right to say “No”.
3. Say “No” and a follow up
After saying “No” to the person, try a good follow up.
Here are a few examples:
-“No, I can’t pick the kids up that day from school but maybe I can pick them up the next time.”
-“No, I can’t make it to company party but I would be happy to stay later that day to help set up.”
-“No, we can’t make it to your dinner party but maybe we can plan another time to get together. “
There are very few if any benefits to being a people pleaser and learning to say “No” when you don’t want to do something can be a huge self-confidence boost.
Do you have any examples of when it felt good to say “No”?
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Dr. Kristie specializes in sex therapy, relationships, and transgender identities.