Working with Painful Emotions: Distrust

August 22, 2022   |   24 Comments

Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 8:46

Dear Open Heart Project,

I’m so glad to see you and delighted to practice meditation with you. Before we sit, I want to continue our exploration of working with painful emotions and how our meditation practice can help.

In this series, we started with anger, moved on to attachment (or grasping), then shame, followed by jealousy (or feeling inadequate). Last week, we discussed anxiety. This week, we move on to a mind-state that is not exactly an emotion, but can create deep inner pain: distrust.

These are anxious times and there is certainly a lot to distrust, but how can we move through the world with confidence and kindness if we have no confidence in others (or ourselves)? Please have a listen to this short talk and let me know what you think. It’s always so great to hear from you.

On another note—y’all I’m beyond thrilled (and quite daunted, to be honest) to let you know than my new book, The Buddhist Enneagram, is now available for pre-order. It presents a view of the enneagram, a system that describes nine types of people, through the lens of the Buddhadharma. I hope it will bring great benefit!

If you pre-order, click here to let us know and to reserve your spot in a free, live, webinar on Oct 1 from 12p ET-2p ET.

With love, Susan

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  • Posted by:  Jane Deakin

    Thank you 🙏 that was lovely. I look forward to Mondays always the deepest meditation with Susan.
    Can you please say the significance of the Chinese paint brushes on the table.
    Thank you

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I’m so glad these practices are useful, Jane. The paint brushes, to me, are a symbol of the warriorship of writing. Many thanks for asking. <3 S

  • Posted by:  William

    Do you have a post and meditation on being honest with yourself. Almost always I’m very critical.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I don’t–but I will give it some thought! Wishing you well, S

  • Posted by:  Joell Daniel

    I have never correlated my shut down state with not trusting but it makes so much sense! I grew up in a dysfunctional system and no one was trustworthy (sisters, parents) mostly because they were injured, traumatized. It lead me bringing people (husbands, friends, employers) into my life that treated me similarly. I am to the point that I am isolated because not only do I feel unsupported, I need to be diligent about protecting myself from their sicknesses, baggage, or inability to sustain a trustworthy relationship. I feel so hurt, abandon and abused that it is difficult to even communicate. Jealousies, insecurities, past traumas all prevent us from connecting in a loving healthy way. My practice is the safest time in my day and the only time I am not on red alert.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Joell, you are holding so much. Thank you so much for sharing this.

      The wound of distrust (honestly come by) is so profound. I’m glad your practice is a respite of a sort. That is so important because it is predicated on self-trust which, perhaps, is where the healing begins.

      I trust you, for what it is worth. Much love, Susan

      • Posted by:  Joell Daniel

        It is worth much

        • Posted by:  Susan Piver


  • Posted by:  Karen

    Distrust is of great importance but infrequently discussed in Buddhist circles, it seems. I appreciate your thoughtful comments on it. Gives me some insight into a colleague who seems trapped in the world of distrust. I hope this adds to my tolerance and spaciousness around it. Much appreciated, Susan.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So glad it is useful, Karen. <3 S

  • Posted by:  Paula

    Your discussion about meditation this morning really resonated in the way you described “riding the present moment” and you can’t breathe in the past or future. Thank you for continuing to be there for us and continuing to provide these wonderful offerings. Paula

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I’m so happy we can practice together, Paula. xo S

  • Posted by:  Sue in Carpinteria

    Thank you for this, it opened my view in valuable ways! Trust, and lack thereof, is a big deal for me. I too, have wondered about the infrequent Buddhist discussions of trust. Asking some of the morning med teachers about it, I’ve discovered that it helps me to notice the opposites. ex, in some cases, the opposite of trust, for me, might be fear. the opposite of mistrust might be confidence.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Hi Sue. I love your thought that the opposite of mistrust could be confidence. That makes a lot of sense to me.

      Always good to hear your reflections. Love, S

  • Posted by:  Michael

    Dear Susan, Your talk today today was so well thought out & clearly presented, and I would say, heartfelt. I feel a new shift for you ( I never sense any BS) and new time for the planet.
    Your words touched me.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Thanks, Michael.

  • Posted by:  Claudia

    Susan, thank you for sharing your insights and for the guided meditation. I am struggling with ruminating thoughts mostly surrounding estrangement and rejection in my family of origin, at the time of the recent passing of one of my sibs. I loved your thought that we can’t breathe in the past nor future, so focusing on the breath brings us back to the present moment. I’m going to try this during painful moments.
    I look forward to starting my week with your talks and mediations.💖

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Hi Claudia. Condolences for the loss of your sister. I wish you all the strength and softness you need for your journey. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Denise

    Merci mille fois. Avoir confiance d’abord en soi … ce qui me manque le plus. Cette méditation d’aujourd’hui ma particulièrement touchée.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Google translate tells me you said: “Thank you so much. Having self-confidence first … what I miss the most. This meditation today touched me particularly.”

      You’re so welcome! I’m glad this was beneficial. Love, Susan (Vous êtes tellement les bienvenus ! Je suis content que cela ait été bénéfique.)

  • Posted by:  Sue May

    Trust is so basic that an early stage of child development is called by Erickson, “trust vs. mistrust.” I watched my tiny granddaughter enter the new environment of a day care with delight. She has only experienced people at home whom she trusts to respond to her needs with love, so she has no expectation or fear that she will not be cared for. She is so fortunate – consider the many whose needs were not met early on, or without loving relationship. Given the vast array of neurons that are shed by toddlers, having not been activated early, might infant brains not develop some degree of mistrust? Interesting to consider how that would lay a cracked foundation for relationships through life. Thank you for tackling the hard topics. There is always so much food for contemplation.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      im so happy for your granddaughter…and you. always good to hear your reflections, Sue <3

  • Posted by:  Nancy

    These talks about painful emotions are so very helpful. Thank you Susan. I am contemplating the idea that it is easier to accept our flaws than our brilliance. It seems to me that while we can more easily identify our flaws then we often turn to shame, anxiety, and other painful emotions because of our perceived flaws. I think our relationships with others and ourselves would be so very much improved if we truly accepted our flaws. I’d be interested in your thoughts and thank you 🙏

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I agree with you 100%. We hold onto our flaws but continually push our brilliance away. Why is that?! I don’t know! But keep me posted as you explore this. With love, S

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“With wisdom, creativity and artistry, Susan Piver brings a Buddhist lens to the spiritual map of the Enneagram. The results are vibrant and nourishing; a banquet of insights that help us transmute our difficult emotions into pure expressions of our basic goodness.”

 – Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance