Are You Wondering How To Have Relationships In Which You Feel Safe Enough To Trust
If this is something you are struggling with, it might be helpful to be curious about the impact of relational trauma from your childhood. Often, trauma is thought of as big event, like a car accident or an unexpected death of someone close. This is not always the case. We can experience a series of repetitive smaller traumas, especially in childhood, that can impact us in our adult lives. Perhaps your primary caregiver was not attentive enough or at the other end of the spectrum, too attentive or intrusive.
A Lot Of Little Misses Can Add Up
What can seem like a little miss, if it happens once, can add up over time into what is known as developmental trauma. Developmental trauma can also be parent or primary caregiver who is too intrusive, wanting to manage or control all of your daily activities. The way your learned to deal with this as a child was effective or adaptive to the system your were being raised in. Once out of your childhood family system your adaptive technique can be less workable. Now your intimate relationships may be sources of stress and conflict rather than safety and trust.
Not being attuned to in a safe way as a child teaches us to not trust our selves. It is as if we know there’s something not right about always being the last one picked up from after-school activities, or sometimes not picked up at all, but do not have the language or developmental skills to say hey ‘that’s not right.’ Instinctively, we internalize the misattunenment or make ourselves wrong. It’s a survival skill and necessary when we are young. This coping mechanism is less helpful as we move into adulthood.
Your Relationships Are Being Impacted
As an adult, if there is a situation in which your sense of trust feels threatened, either real or perceived, you are likely to use the skills you learned in your youth. A real threat might be not knowing if the person in the profile in online dating and the person in real life are going to match up. A perceived threat may be a friend telling you you are doing well in your job or life or giving you props on a major accomplishment and the voice in your head is telling you not to believe the positive feedback you are receiving. You may be looking for new ways to relate so that you can build trust in relationships.
What You Can Do To Bring Trust Into Your Relationships
One of the ways to learn how to deal with this response is to begin to notice how you are reacting in situations related to trusting someone else. Is your heart-rate going up, is your breath getting shallow? Do you feel less connected to your sensations and all of you attention goes into your thoughts? By bringing some awareness and mindfulness into these situations you can help yourself and your nervous system to remain calm. Initially just the act of noticing brings compassion to yourself. By giving yourself an opportunity to do something differently, there may be changes in how you react. Often times just paying attention to our breath helps us to slow our breath down. This helps us slow down and remain calm.
Once You Tune Into Yourself, Trust Can Come More Naturally
You can begin to feel better and develop trust with yourself first, by noticing or getting curious about what happens in situations where trust is tested. This brings compassion for yourself and that had to deal with your caregivers being untrustworthy at times. Paying attention and allowing a little space, you can learn to better regulate your emotions in situations related to trust. This allows you to know yourself better. You feel more comfortable within and are better able to ask for what you need to build trust.
The Next Step Is Yours
Learning about trauma and its impact on your relationships is a great first step. Knowledge increases your ability to have relationships that are nurturing, fulfilling, and supportive. If you’re interested in learning more about developmental trauma, or taking better care of yourself, please contact me or learn more about my approach to PTSD treatment. I offer a free initial consultation to see if we’re a good fit for one another.