Last week we began discussing the impact of broken trust in our lives and relationships. Broken trust is incredibly hurtful. It rocks the foundation of a relationship and can leave you wondering what was real. Knowing how or when to trust someone again can be tricky business. Often, we get caught either wanting to trust too soon, so as to move on from the painful event and silence our own heartache, or living behind the multiple walls we have built out of self defense. Both options often lead to continued heartbreak and sadness.
So all of that begs the question: How do you know when to trust someone again? How do you know when it is emotionally safe to re-enter the relationship or to begin a new relationship? How do you repair broken trust? Here are five factors to consider when repairing broken trust:
How does he function in other areas of his life? Who are his friends? What does his previous behavior tell you about the possibilities for the future? One of life’s greatest truths is: past behavior is the greatest predictor of future behavior. That being said, is he addressing his previous behavior?
After trust has been broken, both individuals understand the relationship is going to be different moving forward. This isn’t “let’s go back to the way things were.” Rather it is “let’s start a new chapter and learn from the previous mistakes.” The person who broke trust needs to understand the ripple effect of her actions and wants to change her behavior. At the same time, you (the person whose trust was broken) need to understand that you cannot move forward unless you peel back the layers and deal with your own emotional wounds. A repaired relationship cannot heal a broken heart, but a healed heart can help repair a relationship.
When you try to share what you have been through, a trustworthy person will not only stop to listen, but he will genuinely care about the ripple effect of his actions and respond accordingly. It is hard to trust someone if whenever you bring up what happened he responds defensively by either redirecting the focus to you (Well, you…) or blaming someone else.
“Desiring and, ultimately, requiring that someone be concerned about his or her impact on you is not a matter of self-absorption or ‘it’s all about me.’ It is your responsibility and evidence of self-stewardship. You only have one heart, and that heart is the core of you. If you repeatedly subject it to bad treatment, constantly have to protect yourself, or realize you are the only one in the relationship who is concerned about you, you are not taking good care of that heart.” – John Townsend, Beyond Boundaries
Remember, we said that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. It is for that reason that there must be noticeable and sustainable behavior change. If there is no behavior change, it is impossible for you to have realistic hope that the relationship will ever be different.
“When the person changes behavior, but you see no evidence that the change is due to a heart-level understanding of how the person impacted you, most likely what you are seeing is compliance. You are not seeing transformation. Compliance is about getting caught and not wanting to get caught again. It does not develop trust.” – John Townsend, Beyond Boundaries
Rome was not built in a day and neither is trust. Whether we are learning to trust someone for the first time or we are trying to repair broken trust, building true trust takes time. Remember our quote from last week: “Love is free, trust is earned.” If you are willing to quickly trust again, then it may indicate that you are trying to avoid healing. If the other person is pushing you to quickly trust her again, then it may indicate she is trying to avoid changing. The work of healing and repair is a marathon, not a race. There are no extra points for fastest time.
Trust can be repaired, and hearts and relationships can be healed. It takes work and time, and the hurt you may be feeling today will not last forever. As you work to heal your heart, you may feel confident you can trust this person again or you may feel less certain about the future of your relationship. Whether you stay in the relationship or decide to go, you have to let go… let go of the hurt, let go of the old patterns, let go of the broken relationship. You have to let go so you can be free and enter into this next relationship chapter healed and untethered by the past. Your heart longs for and deserves that free.
What hurt do you need to heal and begin letting go of today in order to free your heart? What have you learned about yourself during your healing process? What behavior change do you need to see from the other person in order to begin trusting him again?
Townsend, John, Ph.D. (2011). Beyond Boundaries: Learning to trust again in relationships. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
As I have shared before, I love quotes. I have quotes all over my home and my office. I have always had this idea of having a room wallpapered floor to ceiling with quotes on different colored post-its. (I do realize that this might look a bit creepy and somewhat akin to a serial killer’s office so I doubt that little interior design daydream will ever come to fruition, but you get the point… I love to surround myself with quotes.) In truth, that is one of the reasons I like Pinterest… for the quotes… and for the recipes. I mean, come on, I am never going to make a child’s desk out of a cabinet door. I love discovering new quotes, mulling over their meanings, and hearing quotes other people find inspiring. I often gravitate towards certain quotes for particular seasons of life, and the quote becomes a little bit like a mantra for me. I repeat it over and over and glean encouragement or peace from it as I walk through that valley or across that mountaintop.
Quotes serve as little reminders, encouragers, and coaches along our way. We can collect them and keep them in our mental filing cabinet, and when we need them they are there. Sometimes I find I remember quotes I had no idea I actually filed away, but when a certain event occurs or circumstance happens, the quote pops into my mind.
So out of my love for quotes and the importance I think they play in our journey, I wanted to create Thoughts for Thursday. Every Thursday I will post a quote. Sometimes I might talk about what I think is significant or thought provoking about the quote, and sometimes I might just let it stand on its own. Sometimes words are so powerful they need no explanation or discussion. I hope some of these quotes will resonate with you and your journey. Write them down. Share them with friends. Pin them. Ponder over them. Also, please feel free to send me quotes you love and that you would like to share with others! I would love to hear some of your favorites!
Before I sign off, let me share a little about our first quote. I discovered this quote several months ago. It has served as an encouraging companion in this most recent leg of my journey and has become a mantra of sorts for me lately. Sometimes we have to choose faith over fear, gut reaction over logic, the unknown over the known. Sometimes the only way to move forward, because staying in place is no longer an option, is by faith. Sometimes we take the mode of transportation that is available even if you don’t have every question answered and worst case scenario solved.
Do you remember the famous Charlie Brown and Lucy storyline that involved the football? Lucy tells Charlie Brown she will hold the football while he kicks it. Because of previous attempts at this game, Charlie Brown is suspicious and doesn’t trust that she will actually hold the ball. Lucy tells him that this time it will be different. Charlie Brown, ever hopeful that maybe this time Lucy is telling the truth, runs as fast as he can to kick the ball, and sure enough Lucy moves the ball just as he is about to kick. Poor Charlie Brown ends up flat on his back deceived again.
Did you ever read the comic strip or watch the Charlie Brown specials and think, “Don’t do it, Charlie Brown! Don’t do it! Don’t trust her- she’s up to her same old tricks!” Charlie Brown wants to trust Lucy and what she is saying this time around. He wants to believe that things are, and will be, different.
Have you ever been Charlie Brown?
Trust is a funny thing. For the most part, we want to trust people. We want to believe people. Trusting someone allows us to feel safe. Even the most untrusting of us started out with a trusting spirit. Just as we want to love and be loved, we want to trust and be trusted.
Have you ever had someone break your trust? I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t. How does this very common rupture in relationships occur? Broken trust occurs when someone acts the opposite of how you assumed/hoped/expected he/she would act or when he/she goes against the spoken or unspoken “agreement” in the relationship. Lucy said she would hold the football, and she didn’t. You expected your relationship would be safe from wandering eyes and hearts, but it wasn’t. You hoped your loved one would stop his self destructive, addictive behavior, but he hasn’t. You assumed your friend would never betray you, but she did.
Our deepest hurts are often caused by those we trust the most. It isn’t part of the plan for that relationship. That’s why it hurts so much. It is unexpected. We didn’t think that person could do this to us. A spouse. A parent. A best friend. Sometimes it is hard for us to admit that trust has been broken and this person is no longer trustworthy because it shatters our image of that person. This, in of itself, can be devastating. Sometimes we may even try to convince ourselves to overlook broken trust because it may feel easier to just move forward than stay in the present and heal the wound and repair the brokenness in the relationship.
However, we cannot ignore someone’s untrustworthy behavior. To do so is like running when you have shin splints. Yes, you can run through the pain and eventually you won’t feel it anymore, but you are doing damage to your body. Eventually, you will have to stop and take the appropriate steps to heal your body.
We can keep trying to ignore broken trust and the emotional wounds it leaves in its wake, but eventually we will just become emotionally numb. Just because we stop feeling does not mean our hearts aren’t breaking.
How do you repair broken trust in a relationship? How do you learn to trust again? Rebuilding trust in a relationship takes two people… two people working on themselves, fixing the areas that need fixing, healing the wounds that need healing, and strengthening the emotional and communication muscles that need strengthening. It takes BOTH people working, growing, and changing to rebuild and repair trust.
But wait a minute, you might be thinking, I did not deceive this person…I did not break our agreement. No, you did not, but we cannot successfully repair a relationship, or enter into a new one, unless old patterns change and deep wounds heal.
We cannot expect the other person to heal us. That is our job.
But earning trust? That is the other person’s job.
John Townsend in Beyond Boundaries says, “Love is free, trust is earned.” I absolutely love that and I think it is so true. We give our love freely. Love does not fall on a grading scale. But trust… trust is different. Trust is earned. We trust those with our hearts who have shown themselves worthy of our trust.
As you work to heal your heart, you have to simultaneously discern if it is safe to trust again. How do you know someone is trustworthy? How do you know if the relationship can be saved? How do you know when you are ready to enter into a new relationship? Trust is an integral part of any relationship. You cannot have true connection without trust. This is part one of our discussion on repairing trust. I hope you will join me for part two when I will discuss five key factors to consider when learning to trust someone again.
Healing takes times and rebuilding does take work, but your heart can be made whole and you can have a healthy, loving, trusting relationship.
When has your trust been broken? What was that like for you? How has broken trust in a relationship impacted you and your life?
Jack was conceived three years ago today. Or at least this is the day I count as his conception date. Before you signal the OVERSHARE alarm, let me explain. Three years ago today, we did our embryo transfer.
As I shared in an earlier post, we struggled to get pregnant for some time. We went through the emotional roller coaster of infertility, doctors’ appointments, unanswered questions, and passing months. Having both gone through the gamut of testing and months of fertility treatment options, our doctor told us he felt our next reasonable and realistic option was to do IVF. This is exactly where we did not want to end up. This was the route we were both hoping to avoid. We struggled to know if this was the right course of action or if we should continue to wait. Were we turning something into science that should have been natural? Were we taking things into our own hands by doing IVF? Maybe we just weren’t supposed to have children. I wrestled with this decision like I have never wrestled before.
From the first shot you give yourself until the day you take a pregnancy test, an IVF cycle takes 40 days. Forty days. The spiritual significance of that length of time was not lost on me. For 40 days, I prayed thy will, not mine and that our sense of peace, joy, and worth would not be based on the outcome. For 40 days, I tried to surrender all the anxiety, angst, and planning that accompanies infertility. Although there were certainly moments of nervousness and anticipation, I have to say that during that period I felt more at peace than I had felt in years. I had finally let go of the nagging thought that not getting pregnant was somehow a failure or a sign that I was missing some mark, and I had accepted that getting pregnant was out of my control. I didn’t necessarily feel confident we would be decorating a nursery any time soon, but I felt at peace.
The embryo transfer was scheduled for Sunday, July 25th. Although I was praying daily and repeating all sorts of surrender mantras, I read the instructions for what I was supposed to do that day over and over. I had two responsibilities: show up on time and drink 40 ounces of water before the appointment. That was my part that day. The morning of the transfer I carefully measured my 40 ounces. I started drinking.
When we arrived at the doctor’s office, the nurse did an ultrasound to check my bladder and she casually said, “Oh you don’t have quite enough water in you. You need to drink more water.”
I instantly felt my throat tighten and my eyes start to burn with tears, and as clearly as if someone was speaking into my ear, I heard…
You didn’t do it right.
I was stunned. I was shocked. I was so shocked that I wanted to ask my husband if he had heard it as well. It was water…it was water!! It wasn’t going to make any difference on whether or not I got pregnant. All I had to do was drink another Solo cup of water. Where was this thought coming from? I thought I had given up all the self-blame and high expectations. But there lurking in the shadows was that old thought that if only I could do it right then everything would be okay.
I just want to do it right. This thought had been setting the tone of my inner dialogue for as long as I could remember. It applied to most everything I did and every decision I made. For you see, I just want to do it right was my secret code. It was my secret code of perfectionism. I knew it wasn’t possible to be perfect, but I wasn’t trying to be perfect… I was just trying to do it everything right. Because if I did everything right, then everything would work out. Right? Right?!?
Isn’t that what our secret codes of perfectionism convince us to believe?
Everyone has a secret code. Everyone has a secret code that masks his or her attempted perfectionism. We readily say that perfection isn’t possible; rather, we just want to do our best or we just like things done a certain way or we really prefer to work hard. But there is a difference between perfection and preference. Perfection is rigid and unforgiving while preference is flexible. When we get honest about our secret codes, then we can get honest about the root lie behind our attempted perfectionism.
Perfection is protection.
Or so we think.
Perfectionism is all about protection. If I can be perfect, if I can do it right, if I can keep everyone happy, then I will be protected against failure, criticism, hurt, and rejection. If I can always make the right decision, then maybe I will avoid pain and disappointment. If I cross every T and dot every i, then what I am afraid of most won’t happen. Everything will work out because I did it right. This is the lie that perfectionism tries to convince us is true. This is the lie that keeps us up at night wondering what more we could do or where we missed the mark. This is the lie that pummels our spirit and fills us with blame when things don’t work out. This is the lie that robs us of peace.
The problem with this lie is that it lures you down a never-ending dark alley of overthinking, overworking, overscheduling. You start to think, whether consciously or subconsciously, that how you look, how charming you were on the date, how you completed a certain daily task can change your life. You start to think that you can control your destiny with just enough hard work. The reality is you can do everything right and still not get the guy, the family, the job, the promotion, the love. You can try and forecast every worst-case scenario and there are still going to be things beyond your control.
After I finished drinking my water, our doctor and the embryologist came in to discuss the transfer and next steps. I sat there trying to take everything in. Trying to take in everything the doctors were saying, trying to understand the significance of hearing that old thought for the first time in a while. Sitting there, I realized this wasn’t about being perfect and this wasn’t about science. This was about something Greater. I started to fight back tears again but this time for a different reason.
That day I came face to face with the damaging power of my secret code. I also came face to face with the abundant peace that comes with surrender. Surrender is the antidote to perfectionism. Surrender is recognizing what you can control, what you can’t, and having the wisdom to know the difference. It is recognizing where you end and where God begins. Surrender means embracing the mystery of faith. It is not defeat or giving up; instead, it is peace and freedom.
We break free from our secret codes of perfectionism by getting honest about what they are and getting honest about what we think they will protect us from. We break free by daily, sometimes hourly, laying down our expectations and attempts to control the unknown. We break free by learning to embrace the ambiguity and uncertainty of life rather than fearing it. Fear not, friends, there is abundant peace ahead.
What are your secret codes of perfectionism? How do you use attempted perfectionism as a form of protection? What are you trying to protect yourself from?
Over a year ago, I had the idea to create this blog. I thought and brainstormed as to what I wanted this blog to be about and the various topics I wanted to discuss. The first thing I thought of was the title, Voice Lessons for Today. I knew I wanted this space to be about finding your true voice and the lessons we learn along the way. One of my main goals was to provide a place to continue the conversation… continue the conversation that starts between friends over dinner, the conversation that occurs within a small group, the conversation between confidants, the conversation that begins in the counseling office.
I also wanted to incorporate some fun features into the blog. I love books, as I have mentioned before, and I love recommending books that have spoken to me in hopes of passing on the lessons and insights. But why stop with recommending? Why not start a book Giveaway? So today is our first Book Giveaway!
Recently, I attended a three-day training in San Antonio with Brené Brown. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a huge fan of her work and books. Brené Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher, and she writes on such topics as worthiness, overcoming the feeling of not being enough, and learning to practice courage and vulnerability by living authentically and boldly. I am in the process of becoming a certified facilitator of her new workshop curriculum, The Daring Way. The Daring Way curriculum is based on material and research from all three of her books, I Thought It Was Just Me, The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Daring Greatly is her latest book and it is a New York Times bestseller. The training was excellent! I feverishly took notes and soaked up every ounce of information. I gained a new way of looking at the age-old struggle of shame and heard powerful ideas on empathy, self-compassion, and learning to live courageously. The weekend was inspiring to say the least. Here are my Top Five Favorite Things I learned and heard over that amazing weekend:
1. Until you are comfortable with the reality of failure as always a possibility, you will never have innovation, creativity, or freedom. Practicing vulnerability means embracing risk, uncertainty, and the possibility that you may fail. Vulnerability is showing up and letting yourself be seen.
So true! Nothing paralyzes us more than the fear of failure. We can literally stop trying anything new because we are afraid of failing. What if we accepted failure is always an option? What if we grew comfortable with the possibility of failure? What if we took all the power away from this concept and viewed it as merely a possibility that we can overcome and learn from rather than a reason to not even try?
2. You can be brave or you can be comfortable, but you can’t be both.
3. Comparative suffering is one of the main ways we shame and silence ourselves.
Comparative suffering is when we tell ourselves we “shouldn’t” feel a certain way because there is someone who has it worse. Yes, there is always someone who has it worse than we do and perspective and gratitude are extremely important in building resiliency. But comparative suffering silences our sadness, which does need to be voiced because it is only by truly feeling our emotions that we can be free of them. More on this to come!
4. You cannot offer others more compassion than you are able to give to yourself. If you struggle to give yourself compassion, then you will eventually struggle to practice compassion with others because you will feel resentful when you are expected to give it to another.
So many good nuggets here, especially when you think about why you may struggle with being empathetic with certain people in your life or at certain times in your life. If you are struggling to understand and be empathetic to others, perhaps that is a sign that you are starving yourself of self-compassion. (This is particularly important for helping professionals to consider.)
5. When in doubt, be human.
Well, that about says it all.
In honor of my excitement over the training, our first book to give away is Daring Greatly! Daring Greatly discusses the ideas above, as well as learning to courageously practice vulnerability by showing up and truly being seen in your life. If we embrace risk and uncertainty, that inner critic has much less volume, and we will discover that life is much better when we step into the arena than when we are sitting in the cheap seats.
So here is how the Giveaway is going to work: if you are looking for a great read for that upcoming vacation and would love to have a copy of the book or perhaps saw Brené on Oprah or heard her TED talk and are interested in learning more about how to live courageously in the face of uncertainty, then either leave me a comment below or send me a message through the contact form. I will draw two names at the end of the week and mail the winners a copy of the book! (Be sure and leave your email address so I can contact you for your mailing address.) Happy First Book Giveaway and have a great week!
It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while Daring Greatly…” Theodore Roosevelt