How can you stay open when you’ve been hurt?
Oof, it’s a big question that can be thought about in SO many contexts.
It could be the end of a relationship. Or a betrayal of trust of some kind.
The end of a friendship or a betrayal of trust in one.
Someone you trusted at work, or your boss, didn’t have your back.
A family member.
A client or business associate.
We’re all human and we all get hurt sometimes. Whether it be intentional or not.
But when these things happen, how do we make sure we don’t close ourselves off and go into protection mode to the point that we can never have those trusting relationships or deep connections again?
Or if we have a bad experience with a client, how do we make sure we don’t unconsciously fear the next one?
Because that’s what we’re doing right? Unconsciously projecting our previous experiences onto new ones.
We do this our whole lives, until we’re conscious of it.
And when it comes to having what we want, whether that be a fulfilling career, relationship, friendships etc our nervous system is always scanning for threat.
Scanning and assessing whether someone or something is going to cause us pain or be a threat to our identity and ego.
So this sounds like something to work on when it comes to living the life you want to, and are capable of, right?
Good old self sabotage. We’re getting in our own way. And it makes perfect sense based on what’s happened to us previously and what we’ve made that mean.
But it’s not going to help us live full and happy lives in the long run.
So we need to take a little look and decode it.
Often this feels easier said than done!
The biggest thing to bear in mind is be kind to yourself and practice self compassion. It makes perfect sense on a biological level why it would feel hard to trust again.
Your nervous system is doing its job. So that’s a win.
But now you need to consciously work with it to make sure your path of least resistance doesn’t become fear and mistrust, because that’s not going to help anyone.
So where do we start?
We start by making sure we’re prioritising the things that calm our nervous system.
Heartmath is ALWAYS my go to in the moment. I also know I need to make sure I prioritise movement and being around water and making sure I’m outside. All of those I find incredibly regulating.
Doing these things in general are always, always going to be helpful but when you’re thinking about the situation that hurt you, or the potential that another situation might, you’ll be sending the signals of safety to your brain and nervous system.
The biggest thing for me is always remembering that people and situations are always there to teach you lessons. I was talking to a friend of mine about it being an upwards spiral, you’ll continue having to re-learn the same lessons until you REALLY learn them. So question yourself, what could this be trying to teach you?
What good could come from it? What amazing things COULD it lead to IF you stay open?
Do you really want to shut yourself off from something incredible because it might cause you pain again? Which side tips the balance for you? The potential for a happy, fulfilled life with everything you want, or the potential pain of it not working out?
We’re human and we have negativity bias and we’re always unconsciously going to try and avoid pain. But we can choose to consciously move towards what we want in spite of the threat of pain.
Remaining open after a painful experience is a big act of trust. And that might already be feeling fragile in other ways.
You might have lost some trust in other people, in your own judgement, or maybe even the universe or whomever/whatever you believe in yourself.
And that’s hard.
There’s no denying that.
And you get to feel all the feelings around that. In fact, I’d say that’s an absolutely essential part of the process.
But don’t stay there.
Don’t let it build into anger and resentment.
Don’t tar everyone with the same brush.
When you’re in the moment and moving towards a situation that COULD end up hurting you again, ask yourself, am I reacting to what’s happening right in front of me right now? Or a moment from the past?
What positive lessons did you learn that ALREADY means this situation won’t be the same?
I was listening to a podcast of Brene Brown talking about the anatomy of trust and she nailed it as always.
She talks about how trust is made up of 7 different components that spell out the word BRAVING.
Because at the end of the day, trusting after being hurt IS brave. It’s vulnerable.
So BRAVING stands for the following;
Boundaries – If you’re clearly communicating them and someone is consistently trampling all over them. They do not deserve your trust. If they don’t respect your boundaries or can’t have a clear and open conversation about any potential compromise or new perspectives then they do not deserve your trust and it tells you everything you need to know. This comes to physical, emotional and sexual boundaries.
Reliability – If someone consistently doesn’t follow through on what they say they will do, you will never be able to create trust with that person. There is no safety or security there. This counts across all levels of interpersonal relationships…including yourself. Keep your promises to yourself and watch some serious magic unfold.
Accountability – This counts both ways. Can you own your own stuff? Can you take responsibility for your own actions and apologise? Can they? Do they?
Vault – I love this one. If someone gives you someone else’s secrets, how can you trust them with yours? Simple really. Gossip, as fun as it can be, is a recipe for not feeling safe with someone. Notice how you feel if you stop doing it.
Integrity – Are your words, actions and behaviour in line with your intentions. Do you feel someone lives their values? I said this to my friend the other day too. It’s about show me, don’t tell me. What are they SHOWING you. How do you FEEL when you’re with them? There is a section of the brain that literally scans for incongruence. These are the subtle clues we pick up on physically. We can be over attuned to them when we’ve been hurt, this doesn’t mean we can ignore them but a healthy deep dive into what might be going on is always a good call.
Non-Judgement – This is both parties again. Do you feel like you can share openly with a person, and they you? Do you fear being judged? Do you feel you can set boundaries and have a healthy debate without fear of being abandoned? All huge clues to look for while keeping yourself open.
Generosity. – I love this one. In this context she’s talking about assuming the best in people. Being more generous in our assumptions around people’s words, behaviour and intentions. Being conscious of when we might be putting something on someone that’s actually nothing to do with them.
You have to know your non-negotiables.
You have to remain self-aware.
Remember it takes time, go at your own pace.
Did anything amazing in life ever come without any risk?
Fran Excell, Success Mindset Mentor at www.franexcell.com – Helping Business Owners & Executives Overcome Stress & Self Sabotage so they can get back their time, get off the emotional rollercoaster and feel more in control.
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