The loss of trust is a very painful experience.
It often involves a lot of hurt, confusion, anger, and sadness. Dealing with these emotions is critical when trying to rebuild trust. When upset, we want our partners to understand our point of view – to understand our feelings and emotions. Understanding how we feel is important because it helps us deal with our negative feelings and move beyond them. If a partner does not take the time to make us feel understood – we try to get even – we try to make our partners feel as bad as we do.
Even though it sounds childish, when someone does not understand our hurt or pain – we try to make them feel what we are feeling (this is often an unconscious response). Not feeling understood, often leads to a game of inflicting mutual hurt. In most cases, partners do not take the time to make us feel understood because they do not know how to do it OR because they get defensive (feel under attack). When accused of wrongdoing, people often try to… * apologize * offer excuses and explanations * withdraw * or even attack back… These strategies do NOT work because they fail to create real understanding.
Simply put, people need to feel understood before apologies are offered and explanations are given. It is virtually impossible to rebuild trust until people who have been harmed feel understood. So, when trying to build or repair trust – it helps to see the situation from a partner’s point of view.
Try to understand why the other person is so upset – directly acknowledge his or her feelings (“you are angry, hurt, confused”) and his or her interpretation of the situation (“and, you have every right to be upset, because what I did was wrong.”) You basically have to agree that the other person’s feelings are legitimate and fair – let the other person know that you get it. If you can do this, trust is going to be much easier to regain.
If you can make someone feel understood when they are upset, they are more likely to… * calm down * forgive you * feel closer * listen to your side of the story… If you don’t take the time to understand your partner’s feelings, rebuilding trust is much more difficult to do. But, once you make a partner feel understood, it becomes possible to offer an effective apology.