CHAPTER 7 – Distrust


Our ability to trust when adequate proof is not available is an essential capacity. Many parts of our life and social interaction depend on our ability to accept ideas, people, situations, and opportunities even when we do not know all the details about them. If our capacity to believe is impaired, all our significant relationships will be weakened.  

Distrust is an attitude that alienates us from life. It can undermine healthy connections with people, our work, and our capacity to be productive. Distrust acts like a dark fog that descends on parts of our life, disrupting communication and cooperation that we need to be successful in life.

People who tend to be distrustful are not overtly paranoid or neurotically inhibited. They see themselves as cautious, thoughtful, and able to weigh all crucial factors and possibilities to determine risks. Their problem is that they often take their risk-assessment process too far because they are overly concerned about safety and security.

Many individuals trace the onset of their excessive distrust to traumatic losses and failures they have experienced. Their reactions to these have led them to conclude that much of the world is misleading and hostile. The need for security has become an all-important to them, and, as a result, they have begun to shut down their involvement in what is happening around them. Unfortunately, prioritizing safety in our lifestyle also leads to isolation and alienation from people and situations that could support our well-being.

While distrust obviously impacts our relationships with people, it can also damage how we relate to our body, career, abilities, the past, future, and many other connections. 

People with poor relationships often forget that our most important connection is with ourselves. Distrust can lead to a prolonged decline in self-confidence as we begin to regard ourselves as weak and inadequate. This deterioration in our ability to respect our worth can eventually damage our foundation for happiness and success.

Describing the characteristics of a distrustful person can be challenging because they will claim they are just being realistic about the dangers and deceit in people and society. They will complain about how often they have been ignored, betrayed, or opposed by those they trusted. Unfortunately, instead of cutting losses and moving on from these examples, they develop fixed judgments about how most people will behave this way if they get a chance. By generalizing from a small number of these episodes, they assume that many individuals are unworthy of our attention and interaction until they prove reliable. Further discussions about these convictions are politely ignored.

And thus, the door is closed on this crucial topic. New rules are made to protect their security and prevent further damage. Unfortunately, these rules often become a prison of self-imposed restrictions that harm them far more than they help protect them from disappointment. 

How the habit of distrust tends to grow in us  

The egos of distrustful people are delicate. They quickly become upset at any hint of being ignored or rejected. Instead of challenging many perceived threats to their comfort, they prefer to retreat into what they assume will be a safe state. This tendency to avoid rather than manage what makes them uncomfortable quickly evolves into an undeclared war against everyone and everything that arouses their skepticism. 

Little by little, the habit of distrust becomes fully integrated into their character as a permanent part of their mindset. They fail to view their past embarrassments as part of their learning experiences and instead regard them as a series of disasters. In this way, they allow old frustrations to become fixed annoyances that keep their anxieties simmering. 

Although bold actions and persistence could bring better results, these behaviors are considered too risky. By default, distrustful people often lose out to those more assertive than deserving.

The blind spot of being distrustful can generate vast problems in our well-being and lifestyle. The long-term consequences of chronic distrust will be a series of disappointments, missed opportunities, and a lack of productivity. Many struggles will be lost because they are abandoned too soon. Relationships with potential friends and supporters may never develop. Significant fears and regrets from the past may never be confronted or resolved. The damage that distrust can cause is massive.

What are the signs that we are too distrustful? 

Distrustful people seem to have a blank spot where flexibility, courage, and creative communication skills should exist. Instead of discussing differences with others, their standard methods are to back off and complain or make angry silent demands without attempting practical actions. The unresolved issues are left in limbo or in the hands of those more resilient and able to approach these problems with common sense and better self-control. 

Here are some of the common beliefs of those who are too distrustful.

  • It is assumed that nearly everyone is probably seeking to take advantage of us, and we usually know who will likely attempt it next.
  • We demand that people prove their integrity and loyalty to us before we can fully trust them. Until we are assured about these issues, we will remain neutral and detached. This rule is merely a realistic approach to life.
  • We expect everyone to be sincere, fair, and honest about their relationship with us. Anything less will not be tolerated.
  • I don’t care how popular various claims or beliefs are. I must see proof of their validity before I will accept them.
  • When people ignore me, it is a sign I cannot trust them.
  • People who are too upbeat and comfortable in crowds of strangers are naïve and don’t seem to care about their safety.
  • No, I am not lonely. I merely like to be by myself and safe.

The signs that our spiritual life is affected by distrust 

Many cannot conceive that we can shut out the divine in our life, but they forget how our free will is always involved in our relationship with a higher power. This means we can decide when we do not trust God to help us and, thus, turn away from this source of comfort and assistance. Here are the common secret thoughts of those who distrust God and the divine plans for us.

  • We presume God will act as a benevolent parent, care for our personal needs, and prevent significant harm to our well-being. When this fails to occur, we are justified in being indignant and alienated.
  • God knows how to punish people when they deserve it, and I often wonder when this will happen to a long list of people I know.
  • God can be callous, especially when our sincere prayers remain unanswered. We tend to ignore the possibility that we are neglecting  our need to learn how to act with greater skill and assertiveness so we can solve our own problems.
  • We can acknowledge that God may exist but still leave us unloved and unsupported. We may feel betrayed and bitter about this result.

The impact of distrustful people on society

Individuals with a limited ability to trust can often make loyal and good friends once we get to know them. However, their collective impact on society can be harmful. Look for evidence of this in these activities.

  • Many assume that government officials and bureaucrats will ignore our legitimate needs and rights in favor of their own convenience and comfort. Integrity and a sincere work ethic is becoming rare. 
  • Distrust in government, religion, and academia often manifests as apathy. While many continue to complain, others are abandoning their effort to demand accountability and excellence in these institutions. Consequently, power is shifting to radicals and opportunists whose only talent seems to be winning popularity and advancing their careers.   
  • Distrustful people prefer life’s concrete and tangible aspects over the invisible qualities such as ideals and great ideas. They often relate poorly to the substance of principles and universal laws such as how we reap what we sow. They see the universe as dead, leaving them with the assumption that their personal will is the only legitimate authority. These false beliefs limit their awareness of our collective worth and the higher powers that guide us. Defects like these prevent them from being fully engaged in their community and society in general. 

 The core issues behind being too distrustful

There is a seriously wounded or weak person inside all excessively distrustful individuals. This trait leaves them vulnerable to all kinds of authentic as well as false threats. The residue of old unresolved conflicts often contaminates their memories and associations, transforming them into cynics.

Our problematic and disturbing experiences seem to demand our full attention while regular events are accepted as ordinary. When we evaluate situations in this manner, we will generate an unbalanced view of life that emphasizes the betrayal of our expectations and encourages more cynicism. This is how we unwittingly strengthen our habit of distrustfulness.

Another issue behind distrustfulness lies in how an accumulation of failures can lead to doubting our judgment and ability to cope with life’s challenges. Distrust of others can sometimes be appropriate, but it is a colossal error to stop trusting our judgment and ability to care for our needs. We must be able to trust ourselves to have a successful life. Our knowledge and skills may be weak in some areas, but we must be able to use what we have. If we cannot do this, failure will be a frequent result. 

Finally, one of the habits that will sustain distrust is our neglect to notice how often we send a strong signal that we want to be left alone. Our body language and the tone of our speech send this signal. Indirectly, we are Finally, one of the habits that will sustain distrust is our neglect to notice how often we send a strong signal that we want to be left alone. Our body language and the tone of our speech send this signal. Indirectly, we are “telling” people that we want privacy, not company, silence, not advice. Most people readily recognize this signal and obey it. If we do not like this, we need to change our signal.

Finally, one of the habits that will sustain distrust is our neglect to notice how often we send a strong signal that we want to be left alone. Our body language and the tone of our speech send this signal. Indirectly, we are “telling” people that we want privacy, not company, silence, not advice. Most people readily recognize this signal and obey it. If we do not like this, we need to change our signal.

 “telling” people that we want privacy, not company, silence, not advice. Most people readily recognize this signal and obey it. If we do not like this, we need to change our signal.

What can we do about our tendency to be too distrustful?

Many changes can improve our ability to be more trusting and less focused on our anxieties and safety. The best solution may vary for specific individuals because there are many reasons for our wariness about fully accepting claims and people. However, there are some fundamental ideas that will be helpful for anyone who has difficulty trusting themselves, others, and our future.

We must fully commit to overcoming our resistance to being more outgoing and accepting. Knowing how to be more trusting will be nearly useless unless we are dedicated to significant change in our beliefs and habits. Yes, this will take us out of our comfort zone, so prepare to make these changes.

  • We must turn off the subtle “go away” signals and signs we carry in our demeanor. We may not realize this, but there is evidence that it is present. For some, it is glaringly apparent. 
  • Turn down the way we automatically anticipate rejection. People will not trust and accept us fully until we begin to trust them. We must earn their acceptance and trust. Stop waiting for others to initiate all the correct moves before we are comfortable with them.
  • Make a deliberate effort to learn more about the skills of effective communication and negotiation. Begin with being able to have a simple friendly conversation with strangers. Learn how to promote and preserve our dignity tactfully. This skillset is essential for rebuilding our capacity to trust ourselves, our judgment, and our choice of behavior.
  • Recovering our ability to trust eventually depends on how well and how often we actively seek to express our confidence and assert ourselves. Silence is often interpreted as either disinterest or passive agreement. Others will take over and assume control unless we speak up to indicate our preferences or what we strongly dislike.
  • Consider the possibility of asking a higher power to guide and strengthen us in times of need. We must appreciate that we are never alone in our times of stress, even when we fail to sense this Presence. While this idea may seem just a pleasant cliché, we also must acknowledge that sometimes we experience a burst of strength or a sudden knowing of what to do in a crisis. This is how we can experience connections to a higher power. This support is possible for everyone. However, we need to do our part in activating these contacts by turning up our curiosity and willing to trust about finding better answers and solutions. The magic of trust never ceases if we direct it to the right places.


The value of being able to wield the intelligent use of trust is enormous. If we can trust our views and judgment, we will find it easier to express them in ways that contribute to our success. We need confidence and the ability to accept the right opportunities, relate well to our friends and co-workers, and fend off the nonsense and rude people who cross our paths. When we add our innate spiritual strengths to these qualities, we reinforce our capacity to thrive. 

Ponder on these points 

1. Have we repelled people and opportunities by being too aloof and quiet? Are we acting as if we want to be ignored? 

2. Waiting for our rewards and gifts to come to us effortlessly doesn’t work very well. Think about where and how we can actively reach out to the abundance we have been neglecting.

3. Remember that difficult events and mistakes are also learning experiences. While they are distressful, they also help us to understand more about what works (and what doesn’t) to lead us to greater harmony and fulfillment.

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