someone zipping up their hoodie to hide inside due to Trust issues with HIV

Trust Issues and My PTSD

"None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have faith." - Paulo Coelho

Everyone has various beliefs about trust relative to self and towards other people or groups. When you go through a traumatic event or a traumatic health diagnosis, these beliefs can be challenged. Personally, my near-death hospitalization with PCP pneumonia and my following HIV diagnosis challenged my trust-related beliefs.

Trust beliefs related to self

This is founded on the individual’s beliefs that they can trust and rely on their own judgments and decision-making ability. It is an important component of developing healthy, trusting relationships with others.

Feeling as though you cannot make good decision on your own, resulting in the tendency to allow others to make decisions for you, is a self-trust-related stuck point.

Prior experiences

If you have had prior negative experiences that created negative beliefs about your ability to make decisions and judgments regarding people and situations, a traumatic experience would confirm these beliefs.

If you had previous positive experiences that created a positive belief system about your judgment ability, a traumatic experience would undermine this belief system.

An important thought to remember is that you cannot predict what will happen or how somebody will behave.

Trust beliefs related to others

This is founded on one’s ability to determine when to trust or mistrust other people or groups. It is important that you have a balance of trust and mistrust. Along with the ability to determine when each is appropriate.

Feeling as though nobody can be trusted or that everybody will leave is a trust-stuck point related to others.

Prior experiences

If you have had prior negative experiences that created a generalized belief that nobody can be trusted, a traumatic experience would confirm these beliefs.

If you had previous positive experiences that created the generalized belief that everybody can be trusted, a traumatic experience would undermine this belief system.

An important thought to remember is that trust is not an all-or-none concept; some people are more trustworthy than others.

My personal trust beliefs

This section of cognitive processing therapy really opened my eyes. I am somebody who had positive prior experiences regarding both trust beliefs related to self and to others.

My traumatic experience and HIV diagnosis resulted in a drastic change in my trust-related belief systems.

Some of the symptoms I have that indicate low negative self-trust beliefs:

  • Anxiety
  • Excessive caution
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Self-doubt
  • Excessive self-criticism

Some of the symptoms I have that indicate low negative trust beliefs about others:

  • Fear of betrayal and abandonment
  • Deep anger at betrayers
  • Fear of close relationships, especially when it’s time for trust development
  • Active anxiety about being betrayed

My own stuck point

I have some of my own stuck points related to trust issues.

I cannot trust other people with my status because they will tell other people. While there is some evidence to support this being how my husband told his whole family without my consent, my mom and sister made sure that they kept my diagnosis a secret. My alternative thought is to look at things realistically and understand that some people may tell others, but not everybody will break my trust in such a manner.

I cannot trust other people with my status because they will change their opinion of me and how they value me. The alternative thought process that I need to focus on with this stuck point is how if my diagnosis changes somebody’s opinion of me based on my being HIV positive, then they are not the type of people that I want in my life.

Building relationships

While they vary, both trust beliefs related to self and to others are important components of our mental health and imperative to building relationships with other people. It is important that we can work on these components so that we are able to be a better version of ourselves.

How are your trust beliefs related to yourself and to others? What effect have they had on your life?

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