Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox.
[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]
Not a week goes by that I don’t come across clients or Food and Feelings message board members lamenting about not knowing whether to trust someone. When they meet someone—a potential friend, romantic partner, colleague, or new boss—they want to know instantly whether or not to trust them. If they watched their dogs or cats (or pet ferrets or rabbits) for any length of time, they’d understand that trust doesn’t occur instantly out of the blue. Animals check each other out and they certainly check us out. My cat sniffs everyone she meets, no matter how often she’s met them. Sometimes we need to do the human version of sniffing for a bit to know what someone’s really like.
In international affairs, the process of putting a bit of faith in someone and then keeping an eye on them is called “trust but verify.” You cannot trust people without their continuing to prove themselves to be trustworthy. So what if they insist you can trust them? So what if they try to make you think there’s something wrong with you that you don’t trust them? It doesn’t matter; you must keep verifying if they’re trustworthy. Trusting is an ongoing process, not a static decision or condition.
Therapist Dr. Jon Connelly calls this process assessment. Animals use the sniff test to assess if other animals are safe or threats. They wouldn’t last very long if they were often wrong, would they? When I accidentally step on my cat’s paw because she crowds me toward her food dish, she’s a bit wary of me until I can regain her trust and get back in her good graces. If I stepped on her paw more often than I treated her kindly, I’d expect that she wouldn’t be so forgiving. She’s a great assessor. When her previous owner’s dogs chased her all over the house and made her life miserable, she raced off to hide under the bed the minute she caught a whiff of them.
Too many dysregulated eaters cause themselves unnecessary agita and stress because they make up their minds someone is trustworthy, then stop verifying. You may wish to keep believing a friend or lover can be trusted in order to avoid confrontation or separation. Or you may not want to believe you were wrong all along—again (called the sunk cost fallacy). Mostly you may believe what people tell you, then stop observing how they treat you (and others). Too often clients who say they’re skittish about trusting, zero right in on the most untrustworthy folks on the planet, then seem surprised when their trust is broken. That’s because they stop assessing what’s happening to them. If they continued, they would see that the other person was not to be trusted. Assessment and verification are your best tools in monitoring trust, so use them well and often.
This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.