Learning to Trust Again

Life coach Sayeda Habib offers suggestions on how to learn to trust again after you’ve been hurt.

Assalamu ‘alaikum to all my dear sisters! I hope you have started the year feeling positive towards your new goals and being fulfilled in all your relationships. Feeling happy in our relationships can sometimes be a challenge because we may get hurt from time to time. If I ask you whether you’ve ever been hurt by someone, I’m pretty sure that I know your answer. In fact, I have never met anyone who hasn’t been hurt at some point. Relationships seem to be a risky business, don’t they? Indeed they are, because we make ourselves vulnerable to another human being. By doing so, we are allowing for the possibility that the other person may disappoint us or hurt us in some way. Being hurt can leave a lasting impact on who we become and carrying it around will also impact the quality of our lives. If you feel that there may be some lingering hurt lurking around, then take a moment to fill in the statements below and ask yourself the questions:

The last time someone hurt me very deeply was                              Ever since this happened, I am a changed person because                                                                            

On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being fully and completely, how much am I willing to trust this person? How much do I trust other people in general?

 What will my life and relationships be like in the future if I keep this barrier up the way it is?

 How would my life and relationships be different if I am able to trust again?

 On a scale from 1-10, how willing am I now to start trusting again?

 I imagine these questions will have gotten you thinking about some of the barriers that you might have up. After being hurt, many of us put up barriers that seem impenetrable, yet our own faith teaches us to continue trusting. We aim to entrust Allah I with every aspect of our lives. We take actions on the things we can and leave the outcome to Allah I. Even when things don’t work out, we don’t stop trusting in Allah I. Why? Because we know that our Rabb will never let us down. Trust in Allah I is an intrinsic part of our relationship with Him.

Trust is an essential part of faith, but it is also an essential part of human relationships. Trust allows us to share with, to rely on and even to truly connect with another human being. Imagine what your life might be like if you couldn’t trust anyone. You wouldn’t leave your kids with anyone, you wouldn’t be able to delegate at work and you wouldn’t be able to have a functional home. Trust plays a part in almost every aspect of life.

So what do you do if you feel unable to trust? You used to trust, but then something bad happened and now it has become extremely difficult to let anyone in. Any number of experiences, such as a friend’s betrayal, divorce, infidelity or general gossip, may make it seem impossible to trust; any experience of being hurt can make it really difficult to let your guard down again. However, what happened happened. Let’s look at the current situation. You could continue to keep your barriers up; you will feel safer in the short term, but you’ll be suffering in the long run. Life will be a very lonely place if you cannot connect with others. The only really empowering choice is to learn to trust again, so let’s explore some ways that will support you on this journey.

Learn to trust yourself

One of the biggest issues with getting hurt is that we tend to doubt ourselves. Did you doubt your judgement when you trusted this person? Did you think that you “should have known better”? We cannot possibly know how one human being will think or act. Each human being is unique and we don’t know the future. Stop holding yourself responsible for not knowing what this person would do.

Start regaining your confidence in your own choices. Take some time to make a list of all the good people in your life. Think about relationships that you have forged with friends, colleagues and loved ones. Now remind yourself that you chose to forge relationships with these people. You have made some very positive choices in the past, so trust yourself to do that again. Next, make a list of at least 10 things that you have accomplished in your life. It doesn’t matter whether they are big or small; all that matters is that you experience them as positive things that you have done in your life. Noticing what you have done and paying attention to the fulfilling relationships in your life will support you in trusting yourself again. This is the most important step moving forward. Once you can trust yourself, you can then trust others.

Forgive, but remember!

The second step towards moving into a more trusting place is to release the negativity from the hurt. We tend to remember each detail of the difficult event. Each time we remember it, we relive the pain. Many of us keep remembering the events because, unconsciously, we are trying to learn lessons from the pain. Our unconscious mind is trying to protect us from allowing it to happen again. The problem with this is that each time we relive the pain, it feels just as raw as the original time. The flood of emotions makes it difficult to retain any lessons; it just brings back the pain. It really isn’t useful holding onto the pain because the cost is far higher than any possible benefit. It keeps us hurting and it stops us from moving on in a productive way.

The most productive way out of this vicious cycle is to forgive the person. Forgiveness essentially means that you are releasing the pain and letting it go. The memories of the event will still remain, but each time you remember it, it will just be an image; the pain associated with it will be gone. The most productive way to forgive is to write a letter to the person who hurt you. Say everything that you need to say and then state that you are now releasing the pain and putting it behind you. Once the letter is complete, tear it up. Do this as many times as needed until you feel lighter. If you still find yourself unable to let go, then there’s more work to be done. I would suggest you get some one-on-one support for that.

Remember that you will still remember the events. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Your mind will store the memory. Once you have released the emotions, you can then start asking yourself these questions:

“What have I learned from this experience that can be a help to me in future relationships? What opportunities are now opening up for any future relationship?”

Remember: everyone is human!

Think about a time in your life when you let someone down without meaning to. Did you apologise and promise not to do it again? Did the other person continue to have a relationship with you? If it was not something life-altering, then I imagine that they did. We are all human and we make mistakes. We may not hurt another person on purpose. Even if one person hurt you on purpose, it doesn’t mean that everyone else will too. The last, crucial step towards trusting again is to realise that everyone is human. There may be times in the future when someone may let you down again or hurt you. The difference is that you now have a deeper trust in yourself. Trust that you will be able to cope with any such situation should it occur.

Learning to trust isn’t about finding the most perfect, trustworthy person; instead, it is essentially about trusting yourself to deal with such pain should it happen. This belief is what will allow you to bounce back from any future hurt.

Insha Allah, I hope that you will be able to find yourself in a more trusting place. These tips will support you in rebuilding the trust you have in yourself, so that you can begin to trust others again too. I wish you all the best on this meaningful journey.

Sayeda Habib is a coach to Muslim women around the globe. She empowers her clients to let go of past baggage, build deeper self-esteem and create more fulfilment in their lives. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email [email protected].