Trusting No One

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    Hi there,

    Im writing because I need some help with trust. I dont really trust almost anyone. I have one close friend and my husband, whom I trust. I guess I would throw my therapist in there too. But thats about it. I have an especially hard time trusting authority figures. This is really making my job difficult lately; I dont feel like I can ask for help when I need it and even when someone is doing something helpful for me I secretly wonder why, and if they dislike or resent me for it. Or what they want from me. This same fear bleeds into my other relationships too, and I spend a LOT of time ruminating on it and thinking of all the ways that people might hate me, be angry with me, or generally hold me in contempt.

    Ive noticed that especially when im feeling vulnerable, I tend to zoom in and focus on peoples facial expressions. If they dont look clearly happy or relaxed, I start to feel upset or take it really personally.Someone else pointed out to me recently thaf compliments and kindness tend to “bounce off” of me. They do tend to go right over my head, sometimes i barely notice,because I assume others are just lying or fulfilling a social obligation.

    How do I rid myself of this horrible jaded approach to the world??? I wasnt like this as a kid. I dont want to stay this way. :”(


    Nina Sakura

    This sounds a lot like social anxiety actually but I am not sure really – when did these feelings start and is there any incident in particular that made you feel more cynical about things? How do you define trust outside of associations with close friends and husband?



    Hi Nina,

    Thanks for replying 🙂 Im pretty sure these feelings are connected to experiences with my abusive ex, and also losing my daughter. I separated from my ex about 6yrs ago; i know everyone likes to think their ex was narcissistic or borderline but mine actually was at least one of those if not both. He took most of his joy in life from controlling and recieving praise from others and had no qualms about punishing people when they didnt want to play mind games, especially me. I did so much work for years to heal from that relationship, then my daughter died when I finally felt like I was moving on with my life.

    Outside my hubby & close friends Im really just talking about trusting that people wont take advantage of me or leave me without help. But I get that so mixed up with peeople liking me or showing positive feelings. As soon as someone is displeased I feel like I have to watch my back and protect from them. Or I just feel no motivation to invest in having healthy work relationships. Whats the point if i cant trust anyone.


    Dear Jessa:

    I can very much relate to feeling distressed simply because a person around me seems displeased, facial expressions or tone of voice. I automatically connect this to: I’ve done something wrong/ they are about to attack me.

    My solution to the general distrust you described is to evaluate one person at a time. If you figure- following adequate observation, communication, evaluation, that an individual is trustworthy in a particular context (a work relationship or a personal relationship)- then trust that individual in that context.

    After all, many individuals are not trustworthy, so a blanket trust is unwise.



    Love yourself Jessa, only when you love yourself can you accept the love of others.

    Call Me Ishmael

    Hi, Jessa.

    I’m so sorry for your loss of your daughter. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrible that must feel.

    Having had the experience of being in a relationship with someone who has a PD, I know how much of a mind and emotion-twisting thing that is.

    Forgive me if I seem dense in asking this question, but have you talked with your therapist about your feelings regarding lack of trust? It sounds like something with which he or she could help you get to the bottom of and resolve.


    Nina Sakura

    Hey Jessa,

    The situation makes so much sense now. Thank you for telling me your story. I am really sorry you had to go through all of that. It strikes me that trust in itself is something that takes time to build or its something we instinctively know.

    I do have one suggestion for trust issues – think of the people you trust a lot now in your life and why you can trust them so much. This kind of unconditional trust is reserved only for a few rare people actually.

    The part that needs to be worked on is the defensiveness towards people outside of this circle – I am not asking you to blindly trust away but to take baby steps. I have come to realize that indeed there is a certain element of give and take in these situational relationships but the part that needs differentiation is what is actually malicious harmful situation and what isn’t. Your mind is on high alert and hence it likes to analyze as far as possible to avert this “perceived threat” – then you also have a secondary emotion of discomfort and guilt as to why you feel what you feel. The tendency to analyze facial expression is also your mind looking for “clues” and you get triggered further in some way.

    Your past is very much rooted still in how you are responding to situations and therapy would be a great way to unroot the various blocks, learn ways to cope.

    what do you think?



    Hi all,

    Thank you so much for the replies. It feels nice to be supported and understood somewhat. Nina- I think you hit it right on! Yes! I never thought of it that way, but I do feel guilty about struggling with this constant defensiveness. I just want to live my life without the constant fearful worry that someone is going to hurt me. My rational mind understands that I dont need to fear everyone, and that I also dont need unconditional trust from everyone. (I should clarify, thats not really what im looking for anyway. I do understand that there are varying degrees and types of trust in different relationships.) Its the obsessive worry and physical anxiety I feel even when I know Im rationally safe that are driving me nuts!

    Nina Sakura

    Hey Jessa,

    I am glad it was of some help. You aren’t the only one who does this – we all do to varying degrees. Our rational mind is very good at putting life into neat like compartments but frankly, the execution isn’t so simple for we are creatures of emotions and habits.

    I would like to share though about the ways that have helped me with “obsessive worry” and “physical anxiety”.
    Based on past experience, I feel there are usually two ways to cope with this kind of worry:

    (1) Deflect (2) Dive

    Everyday folks without a history of anxiety or neurotic tendencies dive into (1) as their coping means. But for people with anxiety or more distressing issues, deflect isn’t so easy actually because we are literally “reliving” something that started the problem in the first place.

    What has helped me the most is to “dive” – “deflect” is now easier. By “dive”, i considered the thoughts i have when i have these anxieties – usually i use a messenger app to write a message to another fake account when the “thought vomit” comes – i write the worst possible version that my mind can come up with – usually a long angry rant about how the world is bad, people are mean, they always hurt me, they just want to use me blah blah…eventually i just calm down and i feel like i can have a more “rational” conversation with myself. I ask myself two things here:- “how true is this story you are telling yourself?” and “is the bigger picture of life still intact?” and i start writing the answers to that too. then i just delete the whole thing and never read it again.

    This might seem like a rather long process to write this all down but it has helped somehow.

    The second part of “dive” is an awareness about the things in my life that i actually like – no one has a perfect life but there are small things that do bring some happiness – Basically plain and simple gratitude for whatever i have in this moment…Positive energy is very important to make it easier to tolerate the negative ones. Some of the bad stuff can’t be rationalized away – we aren’t robots with switches but we can choose 6/10 times to focus on the “better” part instead.

    The third part is “conditional exposure” to the source of discomfort – for example, if i dont trust people outside my comfort circle, then the way out is to simply take a chance once in a while (within sensible limits). I still have some levels of social anxiety but the way to break free is to do things that scare me in smaller doses – the tendency to over-think is still there but its lower when i am happier with my life and myself. My best friend is a great example of this – I have often mimicked her positive attitude many a times and this has helped a lot.

    For the physical discomfort: The fourth is to simply space out somehow, go for a run or walk without the cell phone or just some good music on. Find that spot of “inner peace” in your mind.

    I dont quite have perfect answers – everyone copes differently but i do hope that maybe something among this will help you. That worry that you feel, most of us actually do feel it at points in our life, so you aren’t alone in this at all.


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