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Mistrust: When uncertainty leads to emotional distance

Reading time 8 minutes
Mistrust: When uncertainty leads to emotional distance

You are insecure, don't feel completely comfortable and don't know whether the other person is being honest with you or not. But you don't know why you feel this way either. It's a feeling that makes you keep your distance. Maybe it's a premonition. Perhaps you have already experienced a similar situation and had a bad experience, which is why your inner self wants to warn you about it.

You raise your shields and block everything. You are on alert and highly attentive. Everything is being watched very closely and you carefully weigh what you say and how best to behave. In short, you are suspicious. But why does this distrust arise? And how can you get rid of it? You can find out all this and more here.

What is mistrust?

Everyone is fundamentally skeptical at first when they cannot assess a situation or are confronted with a new circumstance. This is a completely normal protective mechanism that we use to protect ourselves from danger. However, there is a big difference between healthy skepticism and above-average distrust. 

Skepticism can certainly be seen as something positive, because thanks to it we do not plunge completely blindly into the unknown and do not make unreflective decisions. Mistrust, on the other hand, can endanger healthy interpersonal relationships if it completely determines your thoughts and actions.

Of course, you will become more and more cautious if you have been disappointed many times or if others have noticed your good nature and your Faith have taken advantage of the positive. You find it increasingly difficult to build trust and to let other people get close to you emotionally. You have simply learned from your experiences. However, this quickly leads to a kind of cognitive distortion. 

This means you see danger where there is none. You even distrust people whom you could actually trust blindly and who give you a feeling of safety and security. You distance yourself for no reason and lose yourself deeper and deeper in a vicious circle of mistrust from which it is difficult to get out.

It's also important to remember how those around you will feel. Close friends and family members, who wish you only the best and always stand by your side, will be offended at some point. They trust you, so why don't you trust them? Studies even show that very distrustful people are often trusted much less. It seems strange to their fellow human beings why they have such an attitude and they have the feeling that they are up to something and therefore behave in such a distant manner.

trust distrust

How does mistrust arise? What are its causes?

Distrust originates in the mind. Sometimes it is justified, sometimes not. As already briefly mentioned, this is purely a protective mechanism that can vary in intensity from person to person. Basic trust plays a very important role here.

It is not uncommon for people who have not experienced a stable childhood to be very suspicious. A sudden Separation of parents, many heated arguments at home, bullying at school - the list of things that negatively affect the development of basic trust at a young age is long. 

But it can also be severely shaken at an older age. Here play especially bitter Disappointments in the closest environment play a decisive role. The closer you are to the person who disappointed you, the more they will affect you and influence your future actions.

The way to distance

When you get to know someone, you naturally always first ask yourself whether you can trust the person. If you decide to do so, you open yourself up and make yourself vulnerable. Of course, you think twice about whether you really want to let that happen. After all, you have to trust that your counterpart means well with you and will treat you accordingly.

But if this person hurts you, you start to distance yourself emotionally. You ask yourself why they acted the way they did and try to understand why. If there is no plausible reason in your eyes, the distance increases further and further. 

But if you talk things out and understand how it came about, the emotional distance between you will not be quite so great. However, this does not undo the breach of trust. You need time to get closer again, or you may even decide against it completely.

You will probably also think about whether it was up to you. Did you do something wrong? Did you deserve this breach of trust? What can you change so that something like this doesn't happen to you in the future? And you're already stuck in your mental carousel. You devise a plan to protect yourself even better and develop an ever more pronounced distrust. You increase your distance to your fellow human beings and emotional closeness becomes a foreign word to you. Sooner or later, you may even reach a point where you no longer know how to turn off your distrust and open up.

Interpersonal relationships become a challenge

Any interpersonal Relationship is based on trust. As a person who harbors above-average distrust, you lack this basis. Your family, friends, and partner all suffer from this. You cannot form a close emotional bond if you simply cannot trust. If you never allow closeness and don't even try, it becomes incredibly difficult for those around you to get close to you.

Surely you know the saying, "Treat others as you would like to be treated." If you treat everyone with distance, they will do the same and the emotional gap between you will grow. At some point, you'll be so far apart that you won't even be able to talk about a relationship or friendship. Do you really want that?

Especially distrustful people often have to learn that every person deserves their own chance. For example, just because you were cheated on in your past relationship doesn't mean it will happen again now. Of course, you are alarmed and will be much more likely to recognize possible signs now. However, if you trust your new partner much less from the beginning, even though he/she doesn't deserve it, conflicts are inevitable.

What do mistrust and self-confidence have to do with each other?

It is not uncommon to observe that particularly distrustful people also have problems with their self-confidence. They do not have a positive self-image and have the feeling that life simply does not mean well for them, even if there is no evidence for this. This naturally leads to distrust of everything and everyone.

If you are not even positive about yourself and your life, it will be very difficult for you to be positive about other people. Doubts, worries and Uncertainty are the main fertilizers for mistrust.

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How do I overcome mistrust? 6 tips for more trust

If you want to finally be able to allow and trust emotional closeness again, then you must first and foremost work on your inner attitude.

However, it is at least as important that you yourself show that people can trust you. If you give your fellow men the feeling that they can open up to you, they will do the same. In this way, they will set a positive example for you and you will see for yourself that it doesn't have to be bad at all to give trust.

Based on these two points, we have put together a few great tips for you on how you can manage to get rid of your mistrust step by step.

1. communicate openly and honestly

Communication is the key to solving countless problems. When it comes to trust, there are honest Words in focus. Lies and secrets, on the other hand, breed distrust. If you have the feeling that you can't trust your counterpart, talk to him about it. If he cares about you, he will have an open ear for you.

Make sure, however, that you do not overwhelm your fellow human beings with accusations, but remain objective. Simply describe quite openly and honestly how you feel and express your concerns. Only then can you have a purposeful conversation in which you find out whether there is actually a reason why you should distrust a certain person or not.

2. go in search of triggers

Why exactly are you so distrustful? In which situations do you find it particularly difficult to trust? Have you ever had a bad experience with this person? Or are you trying to apply the past to the here and now? project?

If the latter is true, then try to distance yourself from your feelings. There is no solid reason why you have to be suspicious because of a completely different, past situation. Give each moment and each person their very own chance. Open yourself to new, positive experiences, and with them, trust.

3. strengthen your self-confidence

The person you should trust the most is yourself first and the foundation for that is Self-confidence. If this is not present, it will be even more difficult for you to trust others.

So what's the reason for your lack of self-confidence? It's certainly not because you don't have any strengths, because believe us, you do! You just have to realize them! What are you particularly good at? What do the people around you appreciate about you? You will be surprised how long this list actually is.

4. give a smile to the people around you

A positive attitude comes from within, just like a smile. With a grin on your face, you can trick your brain into releasing happy hormones. In a moment, the world will look less gray and intimidating, and you'll feel freer.

A nice side effect: friendly-looking people are usually perceived as more trustworthy. So, to a certain extent, a smile can help your fellow human beings trust you, too. So ultimately, the feeling can be mutual. But be careful not to overdo it. A fake smile has the exact opposite effect.

5. keep eye contact

Imagine you are talking to a person who keeps looking away. What feelings does this arouse in you? Surely you have the impression that she would not listen to you, which is why you cannot rely on her. Your fellow human beings feel the same way about you.

With eye contact you enable a certain connection and signal that you are listening, that you are interested in what is being said and that you can be relied upon. Your counterpart naturally notices this, appreciates it, and is likely to act in the same way toward you. Remember, trust is ideally based on reciprocity.

6. take your time

Distrust is one of those things that is firmly rooted inside a person. You can't just rip it out. Think of mistrust as an old tree. If you cut it down, you've only removed a fraction, because its root system reaches far and deep. And until you dig up and remove all those roots, a lot of time will pass.

It's no different with mistrust. So take enough time to work on it. Move forward in small stages. The important thing is that you feel comfortable during this process and never feel like you are losing control.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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