5 Ways to Rebuild Broken Trust

Trust is easy to break, hard to rebuild. By request from listener Kate, this week Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen offers 5 steps to put the pieces together again.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
6-minute read
Episode #155

Step #4: Focus on the here and now.

If you were wronged, you may be trying your hardest, but just can’t seem to trust again.
If that’s the case, ask yourself if you’re prone to rumination or worry. Rumination is negative, repetitive thinking about the past, while worry is negative, repetitive thinking about what might happen in the future. It’s playing lowlights of the past or possible future over and over again without coming to a solution.

If that’s the case, when you catch yourself, bring yourself back to here and now. Look at your partner’s current behavior and the current state of your union rather than what happened or what might happen. You can call this mindfulness, or you can simply call it seeing your life as it is.

Step #5: Take a leap of faith.

Having faith in your partner is the hardest but most necessary part of rebuilding trust. The same classic 1985 paper defines faith as the belief that your partner will act in loving and caring ways whatever the future holds.

Letting yourself be vulnerable is the only way to discover if your partner will be responsive and caring, or will let you down again.

By contrast, if you avoid contentious issues or have everything defined by rules, there’s no room to take that necessary leap of faith. To understand that you’re truly safe, you ned to go beyond the evidence of predictability and dependability you accumulated in Step #3.

This means letting your partner out of the holding pattern. It means deciding to trust your partner even though you don’t know what the future holds.

But once you do, it means getting back a trusting relationship. And that is something worth taking a leap of faith.

Other studies that informed this article can be found here and here.

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All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen was the host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast from 2014 to 2019. She is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. Her debut book, HOW TO BE YOURSELF: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, was published in March 2018.