Ways to build trust.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Word trust

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

How do you build trust in a relationship?

Some relationships, particularly romantic relationships, start out full of trust and then something happens to damage that trust. If your relationship has been damaged by an affair, substance abuse, or other bad behavior, the first order of business is to repair that damage. In this situation, the reserve of good feelings has been overdrawn, and it may take some work to get the balance in your love account back to positive. For more about affairs and recovery from them from see – affairs.

Other couples may have started their relationship low on the good feelings, towards themselves and towards their partner. If you are low in self-esteem, you may not have positive feelings to give your partner. If the trust issues are issues you brought with you into the relationship working on yourself is the first step.

For couples who would like to build more connection and intimacy here are some suggestions for reducing barriers and increasing trust.

Discussing goals and values increases trust.

Spend some time talking about your values, the things that matter to you. Do this in a non-judging way. Couples can disagree about many things and still have an emotionally close relationship. Deep discussions require time and understanding. Emphasize hearing and understanding what your partner is saying rather than trying to convince them of your point of view.

If you want them to trust, you keep their secrets.

Don’t blab the things that people you are close to have told you. If you want to be trusted, your partner must know that it is safe to share their secrets with you. It may be tempting to confide those secrets to your family or your best friend. Once a secret is shared, it stops being a secret. Passing on that information will destroy trust.

Don’t keep them in the dark if you want their trust.

If things are going on in your life, keep your partner aware of them. Not knowing what’s going on and what you are doing reduces trust. Secrets hide in the dark. If you want a trusting relationship turn on the light of openness.

Keep your word. Say it, do it, and trust will grow.

To increase trust, your partner needs to know that you will keep your word. Don’t promise things you can’t or won’t do. Don’t say you will do something because that is what you would like to do. When you are not sure, tell them about your uncertainty. Don’t promise things that you can’t make come true.

Admitting that you don’t know increases trust.

If you want to be trusted, you can’t pretend to know things that you don’t. Be honest enough to admit that you don’t know. Making up an answer may seem reassuring at the time, but if that answer turns out to not be true, you have destroyed trust.

Admit when you’re wrong if you want more trust.

When you are wrong, admit it right away. Trying to hide your mistakes creates doubt and makes it harder to trust you in the future. You don’t have to always be right. It’s easier to believe someone who promptly admits it when they are wrong.

Build trust by looking for win-win solutions.

People build trust by making others feel like you’re on the same team. Couples often get caught in the vicious cycle of win or lose arguments. It’s hard to trust someone when you believe that they care more about getting what they want than about making you happy. Look for solutions where both of you benefit.

Agreeing to disagree builds trust.

Endless arguments about who’s right, destroy trust in a relationship. If you can accept that others have the right to their opinion without you feeling insecure, you can come to trust the other person even if they don’t agree with you about everything.

Having appropriate boundaries makes it easier to trust.

Good boundaries help you establish where you end, and others begin. It’s hard to trust others when you don’t feel that your wishes will be respected. Once you feel confident that others know and recognize your limits, you can be more vulnerable and trusting.

Grow your relationship in many situations to grow trust.

The more experiences you had with someone, the more you come to know them. Adding to your inventory of shared experiences helps you understand how that person will act in various situations and help you expand your mutual trust.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Four David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

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When should you stop trusting?

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Have you continued to trust when you shouldn’t?

Trust issues commonly are of two types, being afraid to trust anyone when you really need to or continuing to trust people even when you shouldn’t. Not being able to trust when you should, can damage your relationships and leave you isolated and lonely. Trusting the wrong people, trusting too much, or continuing to trust someone who has harmed you in the past can cause you a lot of pain and suffering.

Every relationship whether it’s romantic, work related, or a casual social interaction begins with an initial level of trust. How high your trust is, initially depends on your personality and your past experiences. Based on your experiences with a person you begin to either trust them more or less.

Many people with trust issues confuse trust with power and control. It’s not trust if you control what they do or if you watch them constantly. If you must check up on them, that’s not trust.

What are the warning signs that you are trusting too much? When are the times you should stop trusting?

When the risks are high, you should trust less.

Lending someone a pen, is probably no big deal. If they don’t return it, you can buy another one pretty inexpensive. Lending that same person $20 is a little riskier. When them a thousand dollars and it could destroy your friendship. When a friend owes you something and can’t repay it, you lose not only the money but a friend, who is now embarrassed to see you and have to say they can’t afford to pay you back.

When your gut tells you, something is wrong.

Feelings are valuable sources of information. If you have this uneasy feeling, you shouldn’t trust some listen to your intuition. Feelings are not always right. Just because something scares you does not make it dangerous. When something doesn’t feel right, you need to proceed cautiously.

Trust weakens when their behavior changes.

Trust usually develops over time in a relationship. You trust someone you know more than you should trust someone you have just met. Someone you have known for a while begins to act differently pay attention.

Trust less when they are hiding something.

Whether it’s a romantic relationship or friendship when you discover a person is hiding things from you, be cautious about trusting them. People who are behaving honestly, don’t need to hide anything.

When they are unreliable at the small things, do not trust them with big things.

If someone is habitually late, says they will do something but doesn’t, be very careful trusting them. It’s easy to make excuses for people who let you down in small ways. Don’t make the mistake of trusting someone who is unreliable in small things with something that is important to you in a big way.

When they have been untrustworthy before, trust less.

People commonly behave consistently. When someone has hurt you before, anticipate they are likely to do it again.

When they are evasive and withhold information do not trust them.

Being evasive suggests this person doesn’t trust you or that they have something to hide. If they are leaving out part of the story, you should not trust them.

You ask for something they can’t or won’t do.

When you ask someone to do something for you, think for a minute about the nature of your request. If you’ve asked for something they can’t do, and you expect them to do it, that unreasonable request is creating your trust issues. When someone has told you no, pay attention.

The longer you have known someone, the more you expect from them.

To increase trust, you need to know more about them. It’s unreasonable to put a lot of trust in someone you have just met.

When they have mixed motives, trust less. It’s easier to trust in win-win situations. You should be more careful about trusting when their interests and yours do not coincide.

When their main goal is to get something from you, trust sparingly.

You should reduce your level of trust for someone if you find out that their main interest is in selling you something. In romantic relationships, it is important to identify when that other person is only interested in sex or wants you to pay for something, after which they don’t show interest in continuing to see you.

Look here more on the topic of trust.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

What is trust?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Word trust

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Do you have trust issues?

Many people report they have trust issues.

It is a common complaint among people who come for counseling.

Some people are shy or anxious, others have been hurt. It’s tempting to believe that not trusting protects you from pain.

Not trusting can also cause you loneliness and isolation. The challenge is learning when to trust and when to be wary and cautious.

The definition of trust.

The dictionary, or denotative meaning, of trust as a noun is a firm belief in the truth, reliability, ability, or strength of someone or something. Synonyms for trust include your faith, confidence, certainty, and belief. This definition puts trust into the realm of your opinion or feelings about how much you are willing, or able to put aside your doubts and accept something is true because you want it to be true. This subjective quality of truth leads to differences in trust between people.

The many kinds of trust.

There is more than one kind of trust, depending on the nature of the relationship. The qualities you look for in a trustworthy car will be different from what you look for in deciding to trust a person. Learning who to trust, when to trust, and how much to trust is a valuable life skill. Here are some of the varieties of trust.

Competence-based trust.

Sometimes you must rely on the skills of others. You want a doctor can trust. You look for a medical professional who went to a good school, has a good reputation, or is a specialist. If your car needs fixing you should be looking for a good mechanic. The trust you have in professional people is primarily a belief that they can do what you want them to and that they will do their job correctly.

Situational trust.

When you go into a bank, you trust the teller and hand them your money. You would not trust a stranger on the street with your money. You are more likely to trust people you have just met at work man people you’ve recently met socially. Students initially trust a teacher who tells them to go somewhere or do something far more than they would trust a stranger standing outside the building. Situational trust is based on the role the other person fills rather than any other information you have about the individual.

Caring trust, trusting that they won’t try to hurt you.

Most people grow up believing that their families care about them. The universal expectation is that parents should care about their children and that siblings should care about each other. As parents grow older, there is an expectation that their children will care about them. Extended family members are likely to care more about you than strangers.

Throughout life, most people develop friendships which are based on mutual caring and trust. These early life experiences create a mental blueprint for how we should trust others and expect to be trusted. Having an early life caregiver who was not consistent and reliable can result in trust issues in adulthood. Learning inappropriate relationships because early caregivers were abusive or neglectful are called attachment disorders and are a major source of adult trust issues.

Having a friend who trusted violate the principle of caring trust makes it more difficult to form adult friendships.

Character-based trust.

Some people are easier to trust than others. Everything they do seems appropriate and consistent with what they say. People who are described as being of “good character” seem to be easier to trust. People we say have a good character I described as honest, loyal, and trustworthy. Many youth development programs are built on the idea that it is possible to teach children character values and that those who were good and well-behaved as children are likely to grow up to be trustworthy adults.

Character-based trust has become suspect in recent years. We hear on the news after someone has been arrested for a serious crime that the neighbors were surprised because “he always seemed like such a nice guy.” Despite adult skepticism that many people who appear honest and trustworthy just haven’t gotten caught yet, some people, because of their appearance and demeanor, give the outward appearance of warranting character based trust.

More information on this topic appears in the category – trust.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Trust.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Trust

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

― Ernest Hemingway

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

“It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.”

― Confucius

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Trust

Should you be more trusting?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you decide who and when to trust?

People often described themselves as having “trust issues.” The question they should be asking is, are they trusting too much or too little? Trusting is a complicated issue. How much you trust is affected by your personality and your past experiences. The level of trust you have will and should change with the circumstance.

Trust has been studied largely in 2 situations. Individuals are largely concerned about the trustworthiness of their partners in romantic relationships. Occasionally, this extends to their ability to trust friends or people with whom they conduct financial transactions.

Companies have studied trust in the workplace. It can take a long time to develop group cohesion and teamwork. People today move from job to job, work with consultants, and contractors, and may work in small, temporary work groups. Productivity increases when new workers develop trust in each other.

Here are some factors affecting trust you need to consider.

Trust is challenged when you meet new people.

Trust generally develops slowly over time. The longer you know someone, the more you know about them, the more you will feel inclined to trust them. Some people are extroverts, very outgoing and easily able to strike up a conversation with strangers. If you’re an introvert, you may find you are wary when meeting new people.

Trust in these situations should be limited. Those who learn to use small talk do better in these situations.

Trust varies with the role this person will have in your life.

You will have one type of trust when you meet a new employee at work. The company selected this person, and it’s reasonable to trust they can do the job they were hired for. You will have a different type of trust with the new doctor or mechanic. This trust is based on their education, license or certification, and the setting in which you meet them.

Your trust should be different in both kind and quantity on a first date. You probably should trust the cashier at the grocery store to ring up your purchases and give you the correct change. You wouldn’t trust that same person to spend the weekend unchaperoned, with your spouse.

You should have levels of trust.

Trust is not an all or nothing characteristic. You’ll have people you trust at school or work, but you should not trust them with the keys to your house or your bank card and pin number. People who said they have “trust issues” often over-trust when they first meet a new person. Because of this excess trust, they are more likely to be hurt when that person fails to live up to their expectations.

Are you more trusting of strangers?

The longer you know someone, the more you learn about their faults. Far too many people jump into a romantic, sexual relationship, on a first or second date. They are trusting this other person because they want them to meet their needs. What they haven’t done is spend the time to get to know them and find out how trustworthy they are.

Your general level of trust is a part of your personality.

The characteristics we call personality are a mixture of your genetic material and your life experiences. How much you trust generally can also be affected by the way you think and the choices you make. Most people have some general underlying beliefs about who to trust, how much to trust, and when they should be trusting.

When many people first meet a new person they use their default level of trust. They are either high in trust or high in distrusting. The longer you know someone, the more information you have about that person, the more likely you are relying on information rather than a general level of trust.

Trust is influenced by the experiences you had before you met them.

Your early life experiences set your baseline level of trust. In mental health, we look at ways young children relate to others based on their experiences with their primary caregiver. Problems in these relationships are diagnosed as attachment disorders, which can be either reactive or disinhibited. Attachment disorders used to only be diagnosed in children, but recently was moved to the group of diagnoses referred to as “trauma- and stressor-related disorders.” With time, treatment, or both, many people alter these patterns of relationship. For some people, however, their adult “trust issues” can be traced back to having caregivers in early life who were untrustworthy.

Life experiences, having been involved in relationships with others who violated your trust, can make it more difficult to trust in the future. If your partner had an affair, it could be hard to trust them again. If you separate from them and begin a new relationship, you’re likely to find you will have difficulties trusting that new partner.

Trust involves things you can’t check on.

Trust is what they will do when you are not watching. If you are standing there watching what they are doing, there’s very little trust involved. One of the best ways to increase your level of trust is to observe what people are doing. Unfortunately, there are too many things in life for you to check up on all of them. That’s where you need to use your trust skills.

Relationships that involve a lack of trust can become very dysfunctional. If you find the need to follow your partner around, check their cell phone, and read their email, this lack of trust can destroy your relationship. Healthy couples can talk about their concerns.

Constant checking your partner can be a sign of excessive or even pathological jealousy. Some people develop delusional jealousy believing their partner is cheating on them even when there’s no evidence. If you have trust issues, you need to ask yourself if this is about them or is it about your fears and insecurities?

No amount of monitoring can prevent someone from violating your trust. You either must trust people or end the relationship. If a lack of trust and jealousy characterizes all your relationships, consider getting some professional help.

What are the risks of trusting this person in this situation?

It’s easy to trust when the risks are low. When you are faced with “trust issues” consider what are the risks? Some situations are relatively low risk. You go to make a purchase and hand them some money. You are trusting that they will give you your merchandise and your change. Giving them 20 dollars at the grocery store is low risk. Paying cash to someone you just met in an alley for something valuable is a high-risk situation.

What has been your experience with trust? Have you been too trusting? Or does your excessive lack of trust damage your relationships?

Look here more on the topic of trust.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

How to avoid pathological liars.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Truth or lie

Separating truth from lies is hard work.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

A pathological liar can ruin your life.

Anyone who has ever had to deal with a compulsive, pathological, liar can testify to the way this can disrupt your life. You shouldn’t have to put up with someone who can’t or won’t tell the truth. When you first meet a pathological liar, they may be hard to spot. Some people lie about almost everything. A pathological liar will like to you even when telling the truth might have been more effective. The best way to deal with pathological liars is to avoid them whenever possible.

Avoid letting pathological liars into your life.

If you have questions about somebody’s truthfulness, exercise extreme caution. Don’t make excuses for them or try to change them. Once you identify somebody, who can’t be trusted to tell the truth, avoid them when possible.

If someone consistently lies cut them out of your life.

Having to constantly verify everything someone says is exhausting. If you have trouble believing things someone tells you to avoid having to listen to them. If possible, get them out of your lives altogether. If you must have contact with them because of work or family connections do everything you can to minimize both conversations and contact.

Don’t get angry with people who tell you the truth.

We tend to teach people how to treat us. If you become angry when people tell you unpleasant things they are likely to stop telling you the truth. Don’t force the people you interact with to lie to you to spare your feelings.

Encourage people to tell you the truth even when it’s uncomfortable.

If you want the people in your life to tell you the truth, you must go even further than withholding your anger. People must be encouraged to be truthful. That means thanking people for their honesty even when they tell you things you wish you hadn’t heard. It’s not fun having your flaws pointed out, but if you want to improve yourself, you will need to accept some honest feedback.

When in doubt double checked the story.

Before you rely on something, it is wise to double-check the facts. Don’t take everything you told at face value. Some people will tell you things, which they honestly believe, but which later turned to be inaccurate. I don’t consider factual errors to be lying. It’s up to you to decide what to believe. But if you discover that someone is telling you things that are inaccurate, and they know that they are lies, you should stop trusting them. Liars often lie to manipulate you and get you to behave the way they want you to. Before you take any action, consider the consequences of acting on what they told you and later finding out that it is a lie.

Move slowly in new relationships.

At the beginning of a new relationship, particularly romantic ones, people want to be liked. Almost all people practice “impression management.” It makes good sense to put your best foot forward. It’s not a good idea to point out all your flaws and problems to everyone you meet. Often we are misled in new relationships because we want to like that person and believe what they say.

It takes a good amount of time to get to know somebody. It can take even longer to find out whether that person is someone you can trust with your secrets. Don’t expect everyone to tell you all their faults. As a relationship progresses, both people should feel more comfortable about being who they genuinely are. The longer you know someone, the more trust you should have for them.

If you find that the longer you know someone, the less you trust them, there is probably something in your gut telling you this person is not to be believed. Don’t dismiss those thoughts without careful examination. Better to find out that someone is less than fully honest when their only casual acquaintances than to wait till you’re involved in a romantic relationship, possibly with children, or in an economic relationship where you stand to lose a lot of money.

Keeping pathological liars out of your life is an ongoing process.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Can you spot the paranoid person?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Grim Reaper

Paranoia.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Paranoia comes in many shapes and sizes.

How paranoia looks depends on the group of people you’re looking at. Researchers who study paranoia believe it may have had an evolutionary advantage. Those who were too trusting did not survive. “It is important to ask why paranoia might be so common in the general population. One possible explanation is that paranoia is a trait that was selected and distributed in humans due to its adaptive value” (Ellett & Chadwick, 2003, 2007).

In many situations, it’s better to be suspicious and cautious, even if your wrong then to be trusting and end up harmed in some way. Being suspicious when in doubt kept our ancestors alive to reproduce. Trust issues seem to run on a continuum from mild suspicion to unhealthy, pathological paranoia. Recent research tells us that mild to moderate paranoia is a lot more common among nonclinical populations than has been recognized in the past. Most of these people who experience an episode of paranoia do not go on to develop a serious mental illness.

According to the Freeman brothers “paranoia is on the rise, fueled by disproportionate media coverage of the dangers we face from others; by increasing urbanization; and by a range of other social factors including fear of crime.”

Paranoia also depends on your viewpoint. If you have been the victim of violence or trusted when you shouldn’t have, you become less trusting. Groups who have historically suffered prejudice and violence, become more suspicious. Suspiciousness in women is likely to be diagnosed as anxiety. Wariness in men is more likely to suggest they will become violent and be diagnosed as some form of psychosis. Both Psychosis and Paranoia are much more likely to be diagnosed in males, particularly African-American males.

Definitions of paranoia.

Wikipedia defines paranoia as “an instinct or thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself.”

Google defines paranoia as “a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.”

“Paranoia is defined as false beliefs that harm is occurring to oneself which is intended by a persecutor (Freeman and Garety 2000).”

The meaning of the word paranoia has changed over time. The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia from 1890 defines paranoia as, “a chronic form of insanity developing in a neuropsychopathic constitution, presenting systematized delusions of more or less definite scope, while in other directions there may appear a fair amount of mental health. The prognosis is extremely bad.

Today in the field of psychology, paranoia is treated as a personality characteristic which can fall along a scale from extremely mild and rare to very high and constant. Ways psychologists measure paranoia are by using the Paranoia Scale (Fenigstein and Vanable 1992) or the Paranoia Suspiciousness Questionnaire (Rawlings and Freeman 1997.) When studying personality characteristics, it’s important to differentiate between traits, how paranoid a person is generally, and state paranoia, how paranoid the person may be thinking, feeling, and acting, at the moment.

In common usage, today when most people say someone is “paranoid” they are describing someone with excessive or unwarranted fears and beliefs that others dislike them, are out to get them or will betray them.

Paranoia along with excessive fear and suspiciousness are commonly associated with some of the more serious mental illness. Anyone with difficulty understanding what’s happening around them is likely to become fearful, suspicious, possibly even paranoid.

Subclinical paranoia.

Counselors see many clients with excessive, unreasonable fears. When those fears interfere with everyday functioning, they need to be treated. How much fear is warranted depends on your point of view. When someone has experienced infidelity, the belief that their partner may be cheating again may be very reasonable. If you have been the victim of violence, a heightened wariness is understandable. Life experiences, from your earliest years to the present taught you whether to be trusting or suspicious. Having been neglected or experiencing bullying increases the chances you will see the world as hostile and people as unreliable.

If, as far as you know, your partner has never cheated, but you spend hours each day checking their cell phone or social media for signs they are cheating, if you follow them or demand to know where they are every moment of the day, it’s likely your fears are about you rather than about their behavior.

According to paranoidthoughts.com, “around a third of the population regularly has suspicious or paranoid thoughts. In fact, paranoia may be almost as common as depression or anxiety.”

Subclinical levels of paranoia are associated with the anxiety disorders, depression, and with cognitive impairment. Excessive jealousy can become so severe that it needs to be treated as a “delusional disorder.”

Paranoia among people with substance use disorders.

There’s a significant presence of paranoid symptoms among people with a substance use disorder. Some substances increase the level of anxiety and cause paranoia. The substance using lifestyle includes people who are untrustworthy and can result in traumatic experiences. Using illegal substances involves criminal activity. Telling whether extreme fearfulness and the beliefs that others are out to get is paranoia or reasonable is difficult when you have a substance use disorder. The belief that the police are following you and people are watching you may not be paranoia when you have a kilo of dope in the trunk of your car.

The way you think about yourself affects your risk of developing paranoia.

High self-esteem, feeling good about yourself, has been shown to reduce your risk of developing paranoia. Several other personality characteristics such as optimism and pessimism are also related. There is still the question of whether paranoia causes low self-esteem and pessimism or whether paranoia is the result of those personality characteristics.

In upcoming posts, we will talk about clinical, mental health disorders which may involve paranoia, some of the substance use disorders which involve paranoia and those subclinical problems, which lie on a continuum between trust issues, suspiciousness, and diagnosable paranoia. We should also explore some of the personality characteristics which impact your level of trust issues, suspiciousness, and paranoia.

For more on this topic see:

Trust

Paranoia

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