: 04 February 2013

How to Trust (Especially When You’ve Been Hurt)

Most of us have felt like our trust has been compromised at some point in our lives.
Needless to say, these experiences can be very painful. Perhaps we’re still scared to trust again? We ask, “Who can I trust? And how do I know I can trust him or her?” 

But trust is one of those things that we can’t just skip over. It’s a crucial ingredient in our relationships – some call it the foundation.

Without it, we can’t experience deep connection and love. 

In this article I’m going to talk about what trust is, why it’s a choice, and how to cultivate it within yourself so you can feel more of it in your relationships.

Let’s start off with the undeniable truth: We all have reasons not to trust.

What I mean by this is: we’ve all felt hurt, disappointed, rejected, scared, and abandoned before. We’ve all suffered in some way (actually, we’ve all suffered in similar ways), and we’ve all felt pain in relationships.

And because of this, we’re all trying to avoid feeling pain again.

Usually the way we avoid being hurt in relationships is by holding-off on trusting until we know we are safe. Trusting becomes a mechanism of protection – if the person “earns our trust” then we will gladly give it to them. And this is the problem. Because there aren’t ever any guarantees.

Asking someone to “earn our trust” means we’re asking them not to make any mistakes and to not bring up uncomfortable feelings in us. And in relationships… this is an impossible task.

Unfortunately guarantees are not found in relationships. In fact, what you probably can guarantee is that you will feel hurt sometimes by the people you love.

I wish I could tell you otherwise but the truth is that disappointment, rejection, fear, and abandonment are all part of the deal in this life. We feel these feelings not because we’re with untrustworthy people, but because we’re humans with wounds.

Trust is not about finding the perfect, trustworthy person.

It’s about signing-up to work through your feelings when the hurt arises.

When we understand trust in this way, it actually becomes easier to do.

We shift from trying to avoid being hurt (which is impossible), to recognizing that we can resolve and overcome anything that comes our way. This is what faith (the BIG trust) is all about.

The thing is, when we use past experiences as reasons not to trust, we’re only hurting ourselves! Walling ourselves off from each other perpetuates the problem – this does not keep us safe; it keeps us lonely.

So if you are scared to trust, what can you do? Simple. You can make an informed decision and go for it.

That’s right. jump in and have faith.

When you decide to trust someone it means that you believe in that person’s integrity. Trusting is knowing that ultimately this person’s intentions are good. And it also means that you know that they’re going to make mistakes.

When we trust ourselves first and foremost, it allows us to deal with the mistakes of others with grace and ease.

If you know that no matter what you’re going to be okay, then trusting another person becomes much easier to do.

Trust isn’t about not feeling negative emotions. It’s about knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way.

I understand that sometimes you’re scared; I know that you’ve been hurt. I’ve been there too. But I want to you know that whatever happens in your relationships, you’re going to be okay (I really mean that).

Trust that. Believe that. Know that.

When you do, you’ll be able to offer trust to others, and that trust will serve as the foundation for love to firmly build upon.

Please leave comment below telling us the ways you are going to cultivate more trust in yourself. I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. Ingrid on April 30, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you and again sweet relief -thank you! I can´t tell you how long I´ve been looking for this insightful truth about trust. But here it is and I am so grateful for your articles and downright, heartfelt truths about love. You are so inspiring Shelly!All the best to you /Ingrid

    • Shelly Bullard on April 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you, Ingrid. Thank you. Thank you. 🙂

      • Linda on June 17, 2013 at 1:00 am

        Thank You, so inspiring and certainly puts my trust issues into perspective…You’re so right it is a choice and I have to believe that the people I let into my life are people of good intentions….I appreciate your words….

  2. heidi on November 6, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Hi Shelly,
    Its really great and feels good to hear of being positive. My partner and i are working through his infidelity. It was going on long before we met so has been hard to wrap my head and heart around really knowing him.

    It feels easier sometimes to grab onto being right than it is letting it go because of the fear of being hurt again.

    Im finding it very hard but its nice to be reminded of being positive instead of secumbing to fear.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      It sounds like you’re in the middle of some challenging lessons, Heidi. Sending love your way. xo

  3. Iris on November 6, 2014 at 8:55 am

    “By using past experiences as reasons not to trust, we’re only hurting ourselves! Walling ourselves off from each other perpetuates the problem – this does not keep us safe; it keeps us lonely.” – This is really helpful, thank you! It made me understand myself more and my trust issues.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      I’m so glad, Iris. xo

  4. Bronagh on November 6, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Thank you for this reminder! It’s came a great time when I’m struggling with a long distance relationship.
    I remember reading many years ago that trust is not about trusting someone else, it’s about trusting yourself to deal with what happens. I totally agree and thank you for this kick up the bum!


    • Shelly Bullard on November 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      You’re welcome. Thank you for your comment, Bronagh! xo

  5. Samantha on November 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Wow, so empowering! I look at trust a little differently after reading this. Great article! Thank you for this eye-opening advice 🙂 xoxox

    • Shelly Bullard on November 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      You’re welcome, love. xo

  6. Victoria on November 6, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Thank You! Shelly!This came at an excellent time as I am working thru both forgiveness and trust – feeling “settled in” a second marriage that has come with both of our baggage and both of our challenging ex’s. It’s been a journey to say the least, but more importantly, an opportunity for growth.

    • Shelly Bullard on November 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      I love that you see it as an opportunity for growth! xo

  7. Cynthia on November 6, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    What do I do when the feelings of mistrust come flooding in and the flight response comes swooping in?

    • Shelly Bullard on November 6, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      This is where you’ll have to learn self-soothing techniques. To me, it’s all about spiritual practice. When I get triggered, I have to stop and recognize that I’m triggered. Then I have to be very kind and gentle with myself, as I come out of it. Then, once I’m level again, I can deal with the situation in a better way.

      • Cynthia on November 6, 2014 at 10:33 pm

        Simple, and brilliant. Thank you for the light you so freely and lovingly share with us. – C

  8. Carole Lefebvre-Guitard on November 6, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Finally the answer to my trust issues! So enlightening…Having been a totally trusting person all my life I had never been prepared to the challenges of rebuilding trust in close relationships. Had to survive two major betrayals in 6 months (one from husband and one from supervisor at work) and could not see how I could ever trust again when you think even the people that love you can hurt you so much. Now I see that self-love is important part of solution! Thank you so much!

    • Shelly Bullard on November 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Yes! Glad this helped you, Carole. xo

      • Carole Lefebvre-Guitard on November 7, 2014 at 1:11 am

        And it could not have happened at a better time in my life…Have been separated on a trial basis for the last 6 months and had to decide where I was heading…I found out I was happy, even living on my own (a very important discovery!) but I was missing family and companionship of husband who I had believed to be my soulmate…This was just the missing piece to take the next step! Thanks again for the enlightment! I just love authenticity and advices. Thank you for being you!

  9. Kim on November 6, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    This was the perfect article to read today. Especially since I just broke up with my ex due to trust issues that we both had. It’s been really difficult to trust many people in the past, but this article has been an eye opener. Whenever I decide to pursue another relationship I will definitely apply this article. Thank you so much!!

    • Shelly Bullard on November 7, 2014 at 1:50 am

      Glad to hear it, Kim! xoxo

  10. Leslie Ziemba on November 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    So much truth! Thank you for sharing Shelly!

    • Shelly Bullard on November 7, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      You got it, girlfriend!! xo

  11. Angelita Gillespie on November 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you soooooo Much !!!!! your God sent, I needed that ,ive been so hurt and disappointed in relationships not just in my marriage but relationships period, it had me put walls of protection around me and I thought that was alright until Reading this About the Walls are not good to just step out and trust in faith, knowingthis person has good intentions towards you and nothing is perfect, im not perfect either , so its not fare to put some one else under that kind of pressure ,and where fear is love has not been made perfect, there no fear in love just trust, so Bless you !!!! May God use you to continue to help people walking in healing, Awesome !!!

  12. Angie on November 13, 2014 at 2:06 am

    Thank you over and over again for another wonderful, comforting article that once again at the perfect time. I can’t thank enough for your amazing outlook and input. ❤

    • Shelly Bullard on November 13, 2014 at 4:25 am

      You’re welcome. xo

  13. Kimmyb on December 10, 2014 at 6:45 am

    About a year ago I painted a heart and wrote the word trust inside. I have staired at that painting every night knowing I needed to figure out how to trust. One day I had an aha moment and realized that I only needed to trust myslef to make choices that are right for me and that support my health, wellness and happiness. It really helps to ad knowing that in relationships trusting character is key, which comes back to trusting our judgment. Your posts always seem to speak to me at the right time. Thank you:)

    • Shelly Bullard on December 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Amazing!! The Universe works in the way you described for me, as well. Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. xo

  14. Rachael on January 26, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Oh, Shelly. I always find you at just right times! 3 weeks into your e-course I started dating the exact man I asked the universe for! Now I’m at a point in the relationship where my insecurities are showing themselves and causing doubts. I need to continue my self-love practice and as you say in this article, trust MYSELF. I know my boyfriend has good intentions and that I need to work on taming my triggers instead of projecting my fears/past experiences onto him. The battle of ego vs. spirit is ongoing and difficult! People are who we expect them to be and it’s all about the energy we put out and the stories we tell ourselves. I love that you say that trust isn’t about expecting people not to make mistakes. This really hit home for me; thank you!!

    • Shelly Bullard on January 26, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      I’m so glad to hear all this Rachael! xo

  15. Stephanie on January 26, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    This is exactly what I realized this weekend. It’s not my job to make sure he never lies to me. It’s his. I know that he could lie and hide important information and hurt me. He has before. But I am choosing to base things on the present, not on the past. I am choosing to look at things now. And there is immense freedom in choosing to trust. I don’t have to take on the anxiety of questioning everything he does or says. I am choosing to believe him and believe in him.

  16. Anita on January 27, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Thank you so much! I’ve been asking this and working on it profoundly; the confirmation got at the exact right moment (as always right? ;)) it still hurts, but eventually it will go away, I’m sure.Have an amazing day!

  17. Lorelei on January 29, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I really appreciate you sharing about trust. It happens to go with what I am dealing with now. In a recent relationship trust was badly damaged. Now this partner keeps coming around asking for another chance. I however don’t feel I could rightly ever trust her again. My 1st experience with her I realized later I was totally blind to what I didn’t want to see. So yes that’s on me..How do you ease someone back into a position where they can hurt you again & at the same time allow them the opportunity to rebuild that trust?

  18. Anna on February 9, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I so needed to read that today. Thank you.

    • Caroline on January 21, 2017 at 6:41 am

      Your heart and light are an incredible guide and I feel very lucky to have found your words and path. Thank you. This article on trust has opened a new doorway for me simply by your perspective in trusting ourselves to be ok no matter what – a gift for ourselves to then share with those around us. Thank you, as I read more of your Manifest Your Love program, I can feel my inner light growing stronger and my love of self softening around me.
      Sending you love

      • Shelly Bullard on May 23, 2017 at 6:20 am

        That is so beautiful, Caroline. I’m so glad my course is resonating deep for you. xo

  19. Lucy on March 23, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Oh my, Shelly, I so needed this advice today! You are a true spirit guide <3 thank you.

  20. Erica on May 23, 2016 at 2:03 am

    I appreciate this message. It is so easy to put the focus on hurt done to us and let it damage our ability to trust. I have been working on getting quiet and in touch with my heart and truly listen to myself first. Clarity and trust within. Recognizing that everyone makes mistakes, myself included and that generally I believe that my relationships are set with good intentions, opens me up to trust and forgiveness. It’s not always easy but it’s worth the effort to keep an open heart and let love flow.Gratitude…for your awesome inspirational perspectives!

  21. Ayesha on August 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Shelley,I have read your mail in which you have written about trust.I think it’s great the way you have explained trust and how to handle our relationships.I would just like to add something to it.’Trust in God and forgets the fears.’

  22. jasmin ffrench on December 1, 2016 at 4:39 am

    This article has truly helped me to understand more about trust, and trusting people.

  23. Nicole on January 4, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    I agree with Shelly that knowing The One you are trusting has your best intentions at heart is the key to trust. NOBODY will ever trump God when it comes to loving you (not even yourself). Therefore, it only makes sense to put all of your trust in Him first and foremost. After all… attracting love in our life is our ultimate goal… and God IS love 🙂

  24. Dawn Diaz on February 20, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    I do understand that by not trusting someone I’m only hurting myself. But in my family I believe trust is HUGE!!! Yes we are all going to make mistakes (stealing, and cheating from my husband etc.) but if I can’t trust my loved one’s not to do anything against me and our family, we are not family. With no trust we are weak!!

  25. Michaela on February 24, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    I do believe trust has to be earned because now all people have good intentions.Some are out there to get their way and you have to guard your feelings till you feel safer to trust. Being naive and trusting everyone has caused me so much pain.I had to realize not everyone has pure intentions like me, therefore I have to observe those people before I give them my trust. Trust is a valuable gift for those who price themselves worthy of it.Loving ourselves means having boundaries too.

    • Michaela on February 24, 2017 at 11:42 pm


      • Michaela on February 24, 2017 at 11:43 pm

        Prove* …..sorry for typos…..

    • Shelly Bullard on May 23, 2017 at 5:58 am

      We attract what we are. If we’re untrusting, we attract untrustworthy people and situations into our lives. This is just how energy works. xo

Before you dive any deeper...

Hi, I’m Shelly!

I’m a relationship coach, licensed marriage & family therapist, wife, girl mom, world traveler and… a damn good manifesting teacher.

On any random Saturday, you could find me hiking in the Redwoods with my family during the day AND relaxing to all songs on 🎶the foggy jazz🎶 station on Spotify in the evening with my man…

I’ve helped 125,000+ expansive, beautiful humans manifest their desires through my YouTube channel.

Over the last decade, I transformed my love life… I went from feeling terrified that I may never find love or have a family of my own to manifesting marriage, my baby, our dream home, and so much more. Now, I want to help you do the same.

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