Dr Cecilia d'Felice's Step-by-Step Guide to Modern Life

How to be happy: 'I can't trust men'

I am 19; my problem is that I don't trust men any more – not because of a bad experience, it's always me that leaves them. But now when I meet a guy, although I am sure he is good, my internal voice tells me he is bad, forcing me to run away. Minnie.

Step 1: We often hear it said, "You have to earn my trust." But what does that really mean? If we wait till all this trust is eventually "earned" we have spent a great deal of time in a state of distrust and at a suspicious distance from others. It has always felt artificial to me to expect others to earn your trust, because trust starts with yourself. If you trust yourself, you can generally trust others. Why? Because once you are operating from a place of integrity, with a compassionate understanding of yourself and your motives, then trusting yourself becomes integral to you. Once you have established trust in yourself there is usually little to fear from others.

Step 2: It is all too easy to project your fear of trust on to men, but this is not about them, this is about you. When someone says they don't trust men or women any more, what they are really saying is they don't trust themselves in relation to men or women any more. For you, the clue to why this might be so is that it is always you who leaves. What are you really afraid of? It could be that you are wary of being able to form meaningful relationships, possibly because you do not yet fully understand yourself, understandable given your youth. Ask yourself why it is that, although you are the leaver, it is men you don't trust? Are they pushing you for more than you feel ready to give, so you end up not trusting yourself to maintain a boundary which feels safe, leaving you feeling vulnerable and needing to get away?

Step 3: Trusting yourself is a lifelong exploration, and your responses will either enhance or diminish your self-belief. This is why it is important when faced with something that asks a lot from you to consider mindfully the choices that you have. A useful heuristic is, if it feels good then it is good and if doesn't feel good then it isn't. The more you can acknowledge what feels right, safe or comfortable for you, the more you will learn to trust in your intuition, your experience and in valuing yourself.

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