To date we have touched upon many themes and in last month’s issue once again mentioned communication as a means to deepen intimacy. We looked at Barbara Carellas’s Erotic playsheet to communicate your wants and needs at that present time in sex and we looked at creating the space to enable you to set aside time for intimacy to develop. This month we will be looking at this statement and how it relates to intimacy:
“Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” ― Stephen R. Covey
Perhaps the first questions we should ask are what does Trust and distrust mean for us? What feelings and emotions arise for us? And perhaps the most important question what do we trust /distrust in ourselves and what does it feel like when we trust ourselves? For me when I trust in myself I feel calm, grounded, Self-aware, non-judgemental, connected and open. That is enabling as it allows me to open to trusting Karen, the self-trust is in fact crucial as I take responsibility and ownership for my feelings and emotions and hence my actions, I realise that many of my trust issues belong to me: the way I view the world, self-esteem, past experiences, limiting-self beliefs, conditioning all influence how I trust another (honest self-reflection can often for me provide the clues to where this is coming from). Take the example someone who desperately wants a fully committed relationship but who’s past experiences have left them with a limiting belief. Outwardly, consciously they are looking for one thing, but subconsciously their belief is sending out another message, an expectation and hence creating a reality: that they will be betrayed, cheated on, hurt, that they could not possibly be worth receiving love and trust and this is totally completely unconscious. What is the most likely outcome to be in this instance, further what would be attracted into our life and potentially what it would be like to be present and aware of where such thoughts are coming from, how would that feel to consciously break the habit, how would that affect opening to trusting ourselves?
With this trust in myself (and of areas where distrust is occurring); then in my trust with Karen I can fully express, fully surrender, fully communicate my needs, wants and desires both in and out of the bedroom. I feel safe, open, secure that what I say and do is not being judged, is being respected, is being recognised as coming from a place of security of honesty. Then Karen opens from the same space as me. It becomes a positive loop, with trust engendering trust, intimacy naturally follows. Was this an intuitive process for me? Yes and, of course no. Yes the realisation that trusting another first started with trusting myself, but the self awareness took time to develop and then there were definite steps to take when building trust with another.
1. Do what you say you will do (or at least do your best in any given moment) and do not break promises, no matter how small and insignificant: people need to know you are dependable. Ever had the person who promises and never delivers? How does that make you feel? What message is that saying on where their priorities lie? Remember the sayings “talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words”. There are many reasons why people become habitually unable to fulfill commitments though one we will address in a little while, but it is a habit which can be broken.
2. Be Honest. In the case of the person who breaks promises what happens when challenged? Do they admit and explain or seek justification by any means possible? So then the ability to tell the truth even when the truth isn't comfortable is another cornerstone, it takes time and practice but it always helps to volunteer information and not to omit important details. Ever noticed what it felt like when you noticed contradictions in other’s stories? Why should it be different for the other person if you are lying? If you do lie though, admit to as soon as possible and explain your motives, honestly.
3. Everyone is entitled to privacy in a relationship. Clear boundaries generate trustworthiness while also maintaining privacy, the other has the chance to prove they are understanding and patient, but most importantly, they have a sense of security. If your boundaries are respected, theirs will be too! Knowing your own boundaries is important, they reduce what we tolerate in relationships, they clearly define our sense of self and allows us to communicate around the boundary. Importantly it allows us to define our values and priorities: take the habitual promise breaker we talked about earlier. Frequently making too many promises to too many people from a fear of saying “no” or making promises that go against values and beliefs stem from a lack of awareness around their own boundaries. That unawareness extends to other people’s boundaries as well and with all the aggravation and stress that causes.
4. Speak about our feelings. This is an ability we had as children and many of us lose along the way. Skills like these come naturally to some but can be learned by everyone. Expressing your feelings and show openness using structures like a sacred space or “I feel” statements, for example, open us to truth and honesty and in time it became a totally natural process in time.
For myself and Karen these four keys provides the base for our trust in ourselves and in each other, yes it takes time, but the mere fact that we are both involved in the process sends the message that we are continuing the process of deepening trust and intimacy.
Of course that works for us, perhaps some of the above resonates with you, perhaps some bits don’t. One way of developing trust is to look at what you believe the behaviours and attributes are required to create trust. The key is not then looking for those in others (they will almost naturally be attracted to you), but to develop them inside you. Be authentic, be yourself what you want others to be to you, seek to understand yourself and become both trusting and trustworthy. This lays the groundwork for attracting the type of relationship you want, for enabling others to open to you and to move into the cycle of increasing trust and intimacy.
OK having said that trust and trust issues are the responsibility of the individual themselves, another can break trust due to their own actions/awareness and let’s face it is a totally emotionally intelligent person who has never broken a trust, most of us have at one time or another. But what happens if trust is broken? Can it be regained?
If we can reflect on why and how it happened, then we have the opportunity to rebuild it, but of course the intent has to be there, the recognition of self-awareness. Patience will go a long way but don’t waste time trying to over explain or justify, take the steps to prevent this from happening again and focus on the future and changing the way the other may feel about your credibility. Never underestimate the importance of apologising and be sincere, insincerity will be the deathknell. All the pointers for building trust need to be shown now: be dependable, consistent and reliable, do what you say you will do and don't break your promises. Listen to the other person, show that you care about their opinions and feelings. Try to understand what the other person is feeling, how would you feel if the situation is reversed? What would you do, how would you expect the other to make amends?
What about the other side though? It's not easy to just forgive and begin to trust again. It takes the work of both parties for trust to be rebuilt. If you make the decision to try to trust again, stick to that decision, if not then don’t be disassemble, tell the other straight away. Remember the dont’s: Don't throw past events back at them, don't threaten or warn or give ultimatums, don’t be a doormat either: Explain what you expect from them and what your limits are. Both need to reaffirm commitment, listen carefully and be willing to share your feelings and emotions. Allow the person time to prove themselves again and both remember that this is a healing process and may actually take a long time and a lot of effort on both sides to regain completely.