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We hover in-between constant states of trust and doubt. Sometimes we fully trust someone or a situation we may be in, and other times we completely doubt the individual or the outcome. This is a natural part of our human nature, but is one that can drive us (and everyone else) crazy if we do not tame it and work to keep things in proper perspective.

words-679914_1280Let’s start out with the issues of trust. Whether its family, friends, a loved one, a stranger, or a new acquaintance, we all have trust issues of some kind. People say things to us and do not follow through, or they do things that we strongly disagree with, and these words and actions lead us to either trust or doubt them. When people are placed in one of these categories, of doubt or trust, it is often very difficult for us to see them in any other light. Trust and doubt are two very strong thoughts and emotions that are very hard to change.

Then there is the topic of doubt. We doubt people, situations, information, and ourselves. We do this everyday, all the time, and sometimes unconsciously. Our doubt can be a good thing, as we need to use good judgment with people and situations in our lives, and doubt can help us to determine the next move. However, doubt can also become a source of stress for us if overused. It can become an excuse we use to remain isolated and fearful of people, as well as things around us, and can wreak havoc on our thoughts and life experiences.

Relationships are filled with trust and doubt issues. Intimate relationships are notorious for being dominated by either or both. When we find ourselves in a relationship with someone we do not trust, it may have unpleasant consequences, most often resulting in the end of the relationship. If we are constantly inserting doubt into the relationship, this creates an unstable relationship as one person feels criticized and judged. A common occurrence is premature doubt when trust has not even been violated. When we automatically assume that someone is not trustworthy we set this expectation for the course of the relationship. Yet, we expect the relationship to still work out for the best. But we cannot have both.

After trust has been violated, it is a logical process to need some time before trust can be restored. This makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense is when trust has never been violated and never even existed. This is the result of an over-thinking partner in the relationship who is assuming everything negative will become a reality if they do not speak and act upon their immediate thoughts. It is like they are some kind of trust ninja, out here defending their badge of trust by proclaiming all the ways that someone could violate it. Sounds ridiculous, right? This is because it really is.

question-mark-213692_1280So here is how it often goes: a relationship is agreed upon, because two people love each other and want to explore a commitment to each other. But then one of them never believes anything the other person has to say, constantly questions their actions, snoops around in their personal belongings (including their phone), and concocts huge amounts of drama on a seemingly daily basis because they cannot imagine that the other person didn’t do something wrong today. So, what is going on here? Most likely, this person has an overactive thought life (and maybe not enough of their own stuff to do) and they do not know how to recognize that their thoughts are controlling their happiness, relationship, and actions.

{Note: if anyone reading this is in a relationship where trust has really been violated (cheating, lying, abuse, etc.) then this is not referring to you. You have valid reason to work on rebuilding trust or ending a relationship altogether.}

This overactive thought life happens to a lot of people, it just becomes more apparent when they enter into a relationship. Their thoughts are spiraling out of control, in very negative ways, and they attribute everything that someone does (especially behavior that they deem as wronging them) to these thoughts. So if their partner comes home late, they question it. If they are on their phone too long, they need to know who they were talking to. If they don’t answer their phone when they call, they are pissed off and beyond consoling. These over-thinkers live in a constant realm of doubt, and they only trust what they can see directly in front of them, and with their own eyes. Unfortunately, they have relinquished all emotional control over to their thoughts. For them, whatever they are thinking about must be real, and they must speak and act on it.

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Ok, so maybe you are reading this and know someone like this or are in a relationship with someone like this. What can you do? 

  • Begin to call them out about their issues of doubt. Instead of giving into every one of the questioning sessions or the series of emotional fits they may have, start to inform them that they are over-thinking. At first this will be really difficult, because it may ignite more fits, but it is necessary. If you really care about this person and want to see them grow through this over-thinking and become aware of their negative spirals, they need to hear when it is happening. They may need to hear it over and over again, despite their refusal to accept it.
  • Take some time to sit down and express your concern. Try not to get into the back and forth with them. Its time for an adult conversation, where you sit down and talk about this matter of doubt and how to work toward complete trust. This can be a challenging conversation, especially when you know you haven’t done anything to deserve their lack of trust in you. But hang in there. Now is the time to express how their constant doubt in you affects you. Some professional counseling might be helpful too, depending upon the outcome of the conversation.
  • Look at the boundaries within the relationship and the personal lives of both people. Often times when we enter relationships, we are consumed with the other person, and lose ourselves in them. This can be great for short bursts of time, and can really help keep relationships strong, but it will not sustain any relationship if it is happening all the time, everyday. Both people need time to themselves, time to focus on hobbies and goals of their own, time to be with their family and friends, and time away from their partner. These boundaries must be established, and need to occur without doubt that the relationship will fall apart because of them. If either person is overly engaged with their partner’s life and being, then its time to have a real conversation about what it means to be together and still be separate individual people. You cannot lose yourself in someone else. A relationship should be a compliment to both of you, not a form of completion.
  • We have to remember that we cannot control someone else’s thought life. Sometimes no matter what we say or do for them, their thoughts dominate their life. In these cases, you may need some space away from the relationship for a while. I am not suggesting that you end a relationship or dissolve a marriage, what I am saying is that when trust and doubt are cloudy issues within a relationship, it will be an unhealthy one until they can be sorted out. Sometimes this is possible and other times it is not. Either way, all we can do is our part and do what we can to help our partner do their part. However, they have to do their part too.

Trust and doubt are complicated aspects of life without allowing over-thinking to worsen them. If you have read this article and believe that you may be struggling with some over-thinking, please take time to read other articles on this site to give you some strategies to begin identifying negative thinking and changing it. Being tormented by an overactive mind can rob you of your joy and peace.

field-328962_1920An overactive mind is like running on a treadmill without stopping, for hours and hours. You just keep running even though your body says its time to stop. An overactive mind continues processing information even though we want it to stop. But we have to take control over our thoughts, just like we would if we were on a treadmill for too long. We would get off. While our thoughts are much more complex than getting off a treadmill, the point is the same. If you want to address an overactive mind, you have to stop thinking about the negative thoughts and learn to replace them with positive thoughts.

Over-thinking will not resolve itself, it requires intentionality and a motivation to calm our thoughts.