‘Someone I trust has questioned whether they trust me…’
A Reader asks about trust. Read below for our full reply, and add your own thoughts.
Highlights in brief:
- Trust is based on an experience, or on a belief, that another person is keeping our interests at heart, and that they won’t act in a way that would harm us. This understanding grows out of the sort of connection we have with them
- If someone then doubts that we can be trusted, it means that something has happened to change their experience or their view of us. They no longer trust our intentions (or even our ability) to speak and act in a way which takes them into account
- If our intentions have not changed towards that person, we are may feel very disturbed by this – that we’re not seen in our true light, for who we really are. Being understood for what we intend is a key human need
- Anger (as in your case) usually tells us about our own unmet needs, and is worth listening to
- Consider how to move forward (which of the Three Choices would most help – see below)
- Once we find the best approach for us, our feelings and perspectives shift, and we are more resourceful in dealing with the situation
Read on for more…
‘Someone I trust has questioned whether they trust me…’
Shiwayo writes: ‘Someone I trusted and I thought trusted me has acted in a way which I think illustrates a lack of trust in me. It’s left me feeling angry because I believe my integrity has been questioned...'
Trust is a big area, as you know – so I'm not surprised you've been feeling this keenly. Trust emerges from our natural sense of connection with others. And as we are always connected (interconnected on many levels), trust is based on reality – on how things really are. So if trust is damaged, broken or questioned, it's no small thing. We're likely to feel it deeply, on the level of who we actually are – on a level of identify and meaning. This is why it can be so painful if our trust is questioned, or if trust is broken.
Trust grows from our connection with another person because it's based on our sense that this person will think and act in a way that does not harm us, indeed, that they keep our best interests at heart. When we know this, we trust them.
In the situation you describe, you have trusted in the person you mention – so your own connection with them has been strong and safe. Now they have acted in a way that seems to suggest that they do not trust you in return. This means they may doubt you have their best interests at heart. They may believe that you think judgemental thoughts about them, or even that you could act in a way which could harm them. So don’t be surprised if your responses are strong ones: this may feel like a shock, or leave you angry, hurt or lessened in some way.
Knowing our intentions are seen and understood
There’s almost nothing more painful than having our intentions misunderstood or misread. This is because our intentions are at the heart of our identity – who we aim to be, essentially, in ourselves. In your case, you know that you would never want to cause harm for this person. So when they lose trust in you in this way, I am sure you have a strong sense of ‘No!’ Everything in you probably wants to jump up and tell them that is not the case. Especially given the good connection you have felt with them in the past, this is not how you would ever act. This is not the sort of person you are!
Anger is a strong ‘No’!
So your anger is a healthy expression of your ‘No!’ At root, your anger is probably saying something like, ‘This is NOT true!‘ It’s worth listening to your anger to hear its underlying message, because anger always holds the stirrings of new life. It’s a gateway (albeit sometimes a thorny one) into being a new sort of person. When the anger is fully felt in you, then it can integrate and change into a different sort of energy – such as resilience and understanding. As you pay it mindful attention, you can see how it transforms in you, in your own case.
Your unmet needs in the situation
It’s likely your anger is telling you about your own unmet needs:
- Your needs-for-you: Your need to be understood and appreciated – in this case, for your intentions. You want the other person to know that you have never wished them any harm, and that you would not consciously do anything to cause that (for them or for others, come to that). In addition, you may want to be valued as someone who can be trusted, because (human error aside) you believe your actions will be congruent with your intentions.
- Your needs-for-others: We cannot feel a good connection with another person without also wanting that person to be okay. So your ‘No!’ anger is linked to a ‘Yes!’ – to that part of you which really does want positive connection with others. It says ‘Yes!’ to other people being well and okay. The wisdom of this lies in knowing that the wellbeing of others is integral to your own wellbeing.
How to move forward?
It may be worth revisiting the three choices before you:
1. To focus within
2. To express your feelings
3. To receive the other person with understanding and empathy
I suggest you take a while to find out which of these choices feels right for you in this moment.
If you are still angry, my guess is that you have background thoughts which are telling you, ‘This person is wrong!’ ... Wrong to think like this, or to do that. In this case, I recommend focusing within in order to settle your own needs for understanding and appreciation. As you say yourself, it is about your own sense of integrity – who you are as a person.
We’ll look in more detail at focusing within in another tip.