False Belief System (FBS): Don’t trust anyone because they will just let you down.
The problem with this FBS is that people will let you down. The opposite belief of “trust anyone because they won’t let you down” simply isn’t true. So how do we think about this wisely and what is a healthy True Belief System (TBS)?
Relationships and experiencing emotion in relationships (even hurt) is an important part of our mental health and well-being. So, let’s start by looking closer at the FBS. “Don’t trust anyone” implies ALL people will let you down ALWAYS. Of course, this simply isn’t true, but your guard is always up so it can feel true. But ‘all people will let you down occasionally’, probably is true. And, you will at some point let others down.
“You will just be let down” implies to be let down is bad, horrible, and you must control the relationship to not experience the pain. My guess, is that when someone does let you down, you go into shut down mode in order to ‘not care’ and turn your emotions off. Am I right? It’s normal if you do. The problem is once you start shutting down your emotions, it leads to shutting down all of your emotions because we can’t select to just turn off some emotions. This leads to being numb, which leads to depression.
So…if I am right…the healing work that needs to be done is to list out those who have ‘let you down’ in the past, and actually let yourself FEEL the emotion of being let down; cry, get angry, have the regret. Ask Jesus to come alongside of you to bring comfort, telling him of your emotions. Share it with a few friends. And then offer forgiveness. Not because ‘they didn’t mean it,’ or ‘it was alright’ or ‘it didn’t matter’, but because IT DID MATTER and their actions were actually wrong and they hurt you. You forgive by trusting the person and the hurt to God and letting God heal it. To forgive does not mean that you need to trust the person who let you down. But it also does not mean you can’t trust anyone.
You then trust God with the consequences their actions had on you. For instance, if you told your best friend in 6th grade a secret and they told it to your class, that wrong needs to be forgiven. It affected you. You felt like you couldn’t tell anything about yourself to anyone and never learned to develop deep friendships again. This affected your marriage because your spouse feels shut out and you ended up divorced. You need to accept responsibility for your part of the fail marriage, but you also need to forgive your 6th grade friend again for the affect their actions had on you.
So, if “trust everyone because they won’t let you down’ isn’t true, what is a TBS I can go to? One possibility is to replace the FBS with a TBS of “When people let me down, (because they will…I even let myself down) I can trust God because He is bigger than the disappointment.” God, in His amazing grace, can take any loss and bring good out of it (Genesis 50:20). That never makes the original offense ‘good’, but we can expect good to come out of hurt when we trust God with it.
Or perhaps the new belief is “To love others well means I will be hurt by them.” You see…God wants us to be conformed to HIS image. He uses others to rub away our self-centeredness in order to sculpt us to His image. If He is trying to help us be forgiving people (because He is a forgiving God) then what do I need in my life to become a forgiving person? I must have people offend me. There’s just no other way.
You see, relationship IS in the emotions. If we deaden ourselves in our emotions so we don’t get hurt, we hurt ourselves because we end up in isolation. In relationship, you will also experience joy, excitement, interest, a sense of not being alone, etc. It’s all fine and dandy to sit and have an intellectual talk with someone, but you don’t have a relationship with them in the intellect. If a person FEELS excitement or connectedness in the intellectual talk they can feel friendship. But if a person FEELS dissension or disconnectedness in the intellectual talk they can feel like enemies. So, relationship happens IN emotion. It’s shared enjoyment in life that brings connectedness. It’s hurt that brings disconnectedness. When we shut down all emotion it brings isolation, even when people are present.
It doesn’t mean you trust everyone, but you learn to identify safe people who are willing to forgive you as well. You will need to know how to process that hurt so you don’t shut down in isolation. Being willing to experience hurt in relationship is a risk worth taking.