Everyone knows the common phrase, “love at first sight.” It is whimsical and aspirational but, of course, it is also incomplete. Despite another popular phrase (“all you need is love”), relationships do not thrive on love alone. In fact, it might be a more accurate barometer of long-term healthy connections if they were based on a new phrase: “all you need is trust.” Love can often be an instant feeling — almost impossible to define. Trust takes time because it’s earned more than bestowed. Trust can also be lost faster than love. When trust is lost, it has the capacity to become an issue.
What Is Meant By “Trust Issues”?
Trust requires risk. To have “trust issues” is to be unwilling — for many possible reasons — to take risks with others. You may fear you’ll be betrayed or manipulated or abandoned. Any of these fears may be based on your experience. Consequently, you are simply unable to risk such outcomes again. You may be friendly, outgoing, and popular — but you keep others at arm’s length. This can hurt you and hurt others. A deeper connection cannot be made and everyone loses out.
Why do people have trust issues? As mentioned, they can result from some bad experiences in the past. Such experiences can go all the way back to your childhood — back when you formed your attachment style.
Trust Issues and Attachment Insecurity
According to attachment theory, human attachments typically fall into three broad categories:
Anything except “secure” puts you in a precarious position when it comes to letting down your guard. Depending on how you were treated by your primary childhood caregivers, you can still heal. Even in adulthood feeling fully secure in an attachment relationship is possible.
Attachment styles are not inherently permanent. With dedication and motivation, your attachment style can be altered. As a result, you can change your perception, behaviors, and outcomes immensely — at any age!
Educate yourself on attachment theory. Talk to others in your life to help recognize patterns that may not be visible to you. The more curious you are about the forces acting on you, the deeper you can comprehend why you feel and act as you do. Knowledge is power — and a never-ending journey.
Own Your Attachment Story You didn’t ask to be raised as you were. However, You can re-write your role by challenging ways you may be perpetuating this cycle in your current life and within yourself by.:
Trust Someone to Help You Learn To Trust More
When it comes to cultivating trust, much of the advice may be filed under “easier said than done.” For this reason, it makes sense to consider counseling as your first step. Regular therapy sessions are like a laboratory of sorts for practicing the process of trusting. Underlying issues are identified. New strategies are suggested. The results are discussed. All of this adds up to a deeper awareness of the factors influencing your behavior. With that foundation, trust may not seem as dangerous or daunting as it does now. You can build secure attachment relationships and heal from attachment trauma.
It would be impossible to list all the varied circumstances that could bring a couple together. So many of these elements are positive and may even feel magical at the time. However, other bonds are forged by factors that remain invisible. These factors can be far from magical. In fact, they may keep you trapped in a cycle of suffering and feeling stuck. An insidious example of this type of connection is a trauma bond.What is Trauma Bonding?A trauma bond is a type of attachment style often formed in childhood. You may have lived with a caretaker who was abusive but initially, displayed love. As an impressionable child, you’re left to wonder what you did to provoke this change. You blame yourself and dedicate your time and energy to winning back the love and protection you lost and now crave.
This blueprint can set you off into a codependent mindset. You come to expect abuse and love to be intertwined. You may even seek out such connections. Fast-forward to adulthood and you might find yourself partnering up with some narcissistic individuals. This kind of partner will mimic the pattern you’ve internalized — caring at first but eventually eroding into emotional and/or physical abuse. You repeatedly reach out to the narcissist to win back your love and the trauma bond is played out over and over.
5 Ways to Know if a Trauma Bond is Keeping You Stuck or Suffering
1. You Justify the Abuse to Yourself
Perhaps one or more of these perspectives sound familiar:
2. Settling For Crumbs
A narcissist may leave you so starved for love and affection that you’ll be thrilled to get the tiniest bit of attention. If you’ve been mocked or belittled all day, even a minor compliment can make you feel euphoric. You may see it as proof that he’s not all that bad and you just need to be more patient.
3. You Seek Negative Attention as Reward
If positive attention just isn’t happening, you may subconsciously take whatever you can get — and begin to adapt to it. Studies show that trauma bonding makes a victim addicted to the drama roller coaster. Your brain becomes so accustomed to the up-and-down emotions that it “rewards” you with a hormonal/chemical rush.
4. Walking on Eggshells
Trauma bonding keeps you on edge — never knowing what might set your partner off — creating an endless cycle of worrying and self-blame.
5. Others in Your Life Voice Concern
This may sound like an obvious sign but not with trauma bonding. The victim has constructed an intricate web of explanations, e.g.
The intense emotions of any relationship can disguise or obscure underlying issues. You feel stuck but you’re not sure why. You’re suffering but can’t identify the causes even when they may be apparent to others. There is no shame in this scenario but it does require outside intervention.
Seeking help via therapy is a powerful step towards self-awareness and healing. You and your therapist can take measures to expose the patterns that have shaped your relationships and your life. Once these variables are laid bare, it can feel easier to address them and move toward a place of recovery.
EMDR & Somatic Experiencing can help.
When you’re ready, contact me for a consultation, I’m here to help.
Traumatic experiences can continue to live on in our brains and bodies long after the events are over. Due to the nature of trauma and the strain and stress experienced by the individual, memories, their associated feeling states, and belief systems get trapped in trauma time almost as if hiding away outside of our conscious awareness in the mind.
In our body’s and brain’s best effort to cope, our minds and bodies often work overtime to deal with the overwhelm. Too often, this means our nervous systems will ride waves of repetitive emotional and physical reactivity that keep us in fear, stressed and reliving and replaying patterns from our past.
Even more commonly, our brains and bodies get stuck in the past, in ways we don’t even realize.
Common examples of how an individual may relive traumatic experiences in their present life:
Try Not to Underestimate the Mind-body Connection
Our minds and bodies are capable of self-healing. In fact, they are wired for it. When danger arises, we have the ability to assess and react appropriately. We call it the “fight or flight response.” This just means that we are quite capable of acting for our own protection. When we are safe, we calm down.
Trauma is meant to be a finite experience. The primitive and higher functions of our brains interact synergistically to fully process the event. Then we go on.
Yet, trauma is not always resolved completely within us. That is when the cooperation within us breaks down. Our innate sense of inner balance is interrupted. The body reacts, whether the danger is imminent or not. The mind is disoriented. Sadly, all of this disturbs our self-image and connection to the world around us. We hurt physically and emotionally. Our cognitive abilities are impacted. Trauma can exhaust our bodies, hinder our personal growth, and interfere with our relationships. To find relief, we have to consider the physical impact of traumatic experiences.
How Trauma Changes Your Body
From our internal organs to the way we physically react to triggering sensations or events, our bodies can become fully involved after trauma.
Consider the following common experiences:
Persistent tremors, tension, and pain When your body has trouble releasing traumatic energy it can show up as muscle spasms, tension, or tightness. Your extremities may tingle or feel numb. Chronic pain or nerve conditions may be linked to your trauma as well.
Trauma affects sleep and relaxation. Nightmares, insomnia, and disrupted sleep are common. The resulting exhaustion can negatively affect your ability to heal, physical coordination, weight, cognitive function, and more.
Recurring gut trouble Experts agree that the gut is our “second brain.” What upsets us registers in our bellies. Traumatic stress changes the biological balance with us. You may find that you experience more incidences of bloating, diarrhea, IBS, and constipation.
Exaggerated Startle Reflex
Real or imagined, a threat often receives quick attention and overreaction following trauma. Often in a jumpy, nervous way. Your sympathetic nervous system may be on high alert all the time or just in certain situations. Either way, a persistent state of alarm can wear you out and contribute to fatigue.
A Suppressed Immune System, Increased Inflammation & Chronic Disease
Unaddressed trauma can significantly reduce our kidneys’ ability to filter blood. This is likely due to tense muscles pressing in around the kidneys. High levels of inflammation and autoimmune diseases can result. Moreover, a sustained anxious state raises your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar. Thus, chronic hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or diabetes may also occur over time. So, with all of that happening biologically, it’s no leap that your mind is impacted too.
How Trauma Changes Your Mind
Trauma-related anxiety must be processed effectively in your mind to avoid ongoing problems later.
Consider some of the following challenges trauma can present to your mental and emotional well-being:
Disturbing or Recurring Memories
Trauma can lead to a subconscious reliving of the disturbing circumstances.
Reaction to Triggers and Avoidant Behavior
Avoidance is a preoccupation for many trauma survivors. Because trauma is stored as sensory data certain songs, smells, or environments trigger real anxiety, flashbacks, or overreaction. As a result, you might go out of your way to avoid people, places or activities that remind you of your past experience.
Unresolved trauma can produce negativity or a growing depression. Depending on your ordeal, hopelessness, powerlessness, or even survivor’s guilt may be at play. Negative self-talk and self-image often result too. For some people, negative thoughts also lead to emotional indifference or numbness. At worst, a sense of nothingness or pointlessness can start to take over the goals and hopes you have for the future.
A cycle of anxiety, conflict, and isolation You may feel irritable, isolated, or even angry and irate. Trauma can create false perceptions of the world and your place in it. More prone to inaccurate assessments of others, your interactions with loved ones, co-workers, etc. can become complex and draining. In addition, loneliness or feeling judged is not uncommon if you feel detached or misunderstood.
Should You Seek Help?
Finding a new normal after trauma sometimes comes naturally. Sometimes calm and comfort require support.
A qualified and compassionate therapist can help you understand the changes you’ve experienced. I’m here to help. Please read more about trauma and reach out for a consultation soon. I look forward to hearing from you.