When we have been treated with distain, our trust is likely damaged. What is sad is this: We not only lose trust in the one who was cruel but also we tend to lose trust in people in general. To make matters worse, we tell ourselves a new story about how the world works and that story reinforces our fear of others as we tell ourselves and believe, “No one is worthy of my trust.” Then we find that those we should trust the most, a spouse, for example, are the ones we now mistrust the most, even when they are not the grave offender who damaged our trust in the first place.
How do we work our way out of this? We recommend three approaches. First, forgive the one who hurt you. This will lessen your anger, which you might be displacing onto others, possibly straining other relationships and thus damaging your trust further.
Second, forgive the person for damaging your trust. This is a secondary wound that we rarely realize we have. It should further reduce your anger.
Third, choose one person who is reliable and focus on the little things in that relationship that legitimately allow you to trust that person. Take time to abide in that person’s reliability and kindness. Then combine your forgiveness, your reducing anger, and your growing trust in that one, kind person and be aware of small steps of trust as they grow in you. It will take time, but it is time well spent. In time, you may see that your general trust in people returns.
As a final note, if the one who originally damaged your trust remains a danger to you, then you need not reconcile with him or her. That reconciliation may come in time as the person behaves in such a way as to earn back your trust.