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I've always had a hard time trusting people, especially when it came to how they treated me.  I never thought that people really wanted to be around me; I always thought they were doing me some sort of favor to spend time with me.  Whenever I was supposed to get together with someone, I always feared that that someone would cancel out on me.  I know the source of these feelings--my father's alcoholism.  Our childhoods (mine and my siblings') were filled with broken promises and lack of stability, especially when the fact that my father was in the navy was factored in.  We moved constantly, and none of us were ever able to establish any sort of stable relationships.  But the alcoholism was the main factor--I can't tell you how many plans fell through because my dad got drunk and spent entire paychecks in a night or two.  We'd be planning on doing something come Saturday, but when he didn't come home Friday after work, we all knew that those plans were no more.

The problem for me in my adult years, though, was not the alcoholism, but the behavior patterns I carried around with me.  The mistrust with which I treated others was my doing, not my father's.  To be fair to myself, I did this unwittingly, and it wasn't pointed out to me until I was well into adulthood, but the fact is still that it was my doing.  The people I mistrusted didn't deserve my mistrust, and I spent quite a long time constantly wondering when someone was going to let me down.

I've finally been able to witness other models, though.  

I've been able to meet many people who haven't let me down at all, who have been faithful to me and have treated me well.  I've also been able to witness their trust in others--in their families, friends, and other loved ones--and it's been a revelation to me to see how rarely people let them down.  Because of their models and my awareness (finally!) of my own self-sabotaging behavior, I'm finally able, for the most part, to trust.

The lack of trust that's hurt me hasn't been limited to people, either.  I typically haven't trusted situations, especially when things have been going well for me.  I've always had the worry in the back of my mind that things would fall through, that I'd lose the positive things in my life, that I'd lose my job and not have enough money to pay for things I needed to pay for, and I'd lose those, too.  If a friendship was going well, I'd be waiting for it to end somehow, probably from that person getting mad at me for something I didn't do, or something I did that he or she misunderstood.

At the root of all this, I've found, was a fundamental lack of trust in God.  With the way my early life went, how could God possibly have loved me and my siblings?  I prayed a lot when I was young, but I never saw answers to those prayers.  My mother prayed a lot, but my father still drank, denying that he even had a problem.  Because the father figure in my life wasn't trustworthy, I wasn't able to believe in the love of the ultimate father figure, our God.  I used to think that prayers worked for other people, but not for me, because somehow I was doomed to live life being miserable.  I didn't trust God to take care of me, so I tried to control every aspect of my own life, and the mistrust became a self-perpetuating vicious circle.

Once I started trusting other people, though, a trust in God naturally flowed from that trust.  I was able to see that my prayers hadn't been unanswered--they had been answered in ways I couldn't see and didn't understand.  In many ways, the early life I went through has turned into a blessing in my adult years, as I have many gifts that come directly from my trials.  I have insight that I never could have hoped to have otherwise, I have an incredible ability to adapt quickly and easily to almost any situation, and I'm still in touch with the childhood that I never really had, but never really let go of, and that I think is the greatest gift of all.  This gift allows me to see the world with wonder and awe, and it's the one gift I never want to lose.

If you have a hard time trusting other people, there's probably a good reason for it.  You can explain the origin of the mistrust, but that's all it is:  the origin.  If you're carrying it around with you, that's your doing, not the doing of whoever caused it in the first place.  If you don't trust others or your situations, you're hurting yourself rather drastically, for you're not allowing yourself to feel fully the world that surrounds you, the beauty in the people and the things in your life.  Perhaps someone will let you down again sometime in the future--in fact, I can almost guarantee it--but what you do with that is what determines how it affects your life, not what that person has done.  If you allow it to make you mistrust others, you're doing a disservice to yourself and those others.  If you accept it for what it is--one person's actions that needn't affect you forever--you'll find life much brighter in the future.

Give yourself a chance to let go of mistrust, and allow yourself the freedom that trust can give you.  When you can trust, a huge burden is taken from your shoulders, for you no longer have to control every situation in your life.  When people say "let go and let God," they're talking about trust, and the letting go of mistrust.  It's not as hard as you think--start by trusting people with little things, and build up a history of people you've trusted having come through for you.  You'll soon see that most of the people in this world are trustworthy, and that most of the "betrayals" we've gone through have been rather trivial in nature.  (Just one word of caution:  if you're anything like me, your lack of trust causes you to associate with people who may be very nice and friendly, but not all that trustworthy.  Learn to identify them!)



You may be deceived if you trust too much,
but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.

Frank Crane


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Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

William Shakespeare


Those who have trusted where they ought not
will surely mistrust where they ought not.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach


When mistrust comes in, love goes out.

Irish saying

It is more shameful to mistrust one's friends than to be deceived by them.

François de la Rochefoucauld

Constant kindness can accomplish much.  As the sun makes ice melt,
kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Albert Schweitzer


Hate and mistrust are the children of blindness.

William Watson


Doubts and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination,
which the steadfast heart will conquer, and the large mind transcend.

Helen Keller

We must respect the past, and mistrust the present, if we
wish to provide for the safety of the future.

Joseph Joubert


The world's greatest need. . . is mutual confidence.  No human being ever
knows all the secrets of another's heart.  Yet there is enough confidence
between mother and child, husband and wife, buyer and seller. . . to
make social life a practical possibility.  Confidence may be risky,
but it is nothing like so risky as mistrust.

Arnold Joseph Toynbee

The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way
to make people trustworthy is to trust them; and the surest way to
make them untrustworthy is to distrust them and show your mistrust.

Henry J. Stimson

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Alone in his car heading west, it's easy for Jason
to feel sorry for himself and mad at the world.  But
then he gives a ride to Hector and learns that life
isn't nearly as negative as we sometimes see it,
and that the prejudice and discrimination that
he's experiencing aren't unique to him--and aren't
impossible to overcome.  The friendship between
this young man and his 70-year-old passenger is
an inspiring story of love and dealing with
obstacles in our lives.    
Book - Kindle



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