When Trust Has Been Broken

David Lansky
David Lansky

No matter how well intentioned, family relationships can sometimes go awry and trust can be broken. There is no simple solution to rebuilding trust, but here are some guidelines:

  1. If you have violated another party’s trust, you must admit that a violation has occurred and ask for forgiveness.
  2. Understand that questions about trustworthiness will continue for quite some time. You will therefore need to be tolerant and patient.
  3. Dedicate yourself to the attributes of reliability, intimacy and honesty.
  4. Seek to understand and resolve the reason for the violation, because if that is not managed, trust may well be broken again.

Sometimes there is a lack of trust that stems from historical dynamics, hurts or injustices. If that’s the case, then people in the present may be unable to change the situation no matter how hard they try. In these types of situations, the person or persons who feel they have been victimized will PRESUME that certain others cannot be trusted – even if those individuals have not themselves done anything objectively ‘wrong’. Those who see themselves as victims of a historical injustice will have to work hard on themselves.

  1. If you experience a lack of trust that is rooted in the past, admit to yourself that your lack of trust may not derive from wrongs that have been committed in the present.
  2. Be clear that you WANT to trust again.
  3. Be willing to forgive.
  4. Seek and affirm instances that CONTRADICT your presumption of distrust.

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