How to Get Over Your Fear of Trust and Truly Connect with SomeoneNone By Sharon Salzberg
In our 5-part series, Sharon Salzberg, a world-renowned meditation teacher and author of the new book Real Love, answers your questions about how to truly connect with others.
Question: How can you connect with someone if you don't trust them?
I think you can connect with this person internally and care about them, while having a sense of wishing that they could see their patterns. That does not mean you want to align your life with them or count on them in some way. If you do not trust them, your connection to them will remain guarded in some important ways. This is for your protection. You may hope that you might resolve your distrust by talking it out, but the timing must be good for both, and both must feel safe to speak freely and honestly in order to make progress.
To begin, you might say, "I realize you are a different person now, but I am still uneasy." A sign that the other person may be ready to let go as well is if they express concern and curiosity about you. He or she might ask, "Specifically, what makes you uneasy?" That is an opening for change. It is important to remain honest no matter how difficult these things may be to discuss. Do you fear a repeat of this behavior? Or has the action the other person took marred your sense of their character? All of these doubts must be out in the open.
There are things you can do or say to change your interaction, or to test out certain behaviors. We see trust as binary—do I trust you or not? Trust is something that grows. It may be broken, but it can be healed. To trust another, you set up a way to fulfill your need for reassurance. If I were an employer and I needed an employee to get the cash at the bank, I would need to trust her. If the employee knew to text me from the bank, plus when she was leaving, this might help assure me. As this employee continued to do this without incident, you'd build trust together and, over time, you might be able to drop the texting requirement. Look at your relationship with the person who has lost your trust and see if there are small ways that you might be able to work on building trust between you again.
Honest communication is a very high goal, but at least it is possible to encourage truthfulness and mutual respect. If you offer that and find it in return, you have scaffolding on which you can begin to build trust for each other in the ways that matter to you both.
Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher and NY Times bestselling author. S