The Circles of Trust exercise is one of my favorites. I like to look at this exercise for myself and I love to use it in my office with clients. You can do it at home too!
The Circles of Trust have three circles, an inner, middle, and outer. If you draw them on paper you can do the exercise. Here is what the circles will look like:
Next, fill in the outer circle with acquaintances. People in your life you like but don’t know well enough to trust. Finally, beyond this circle are the people in your life who you absolutely don’t trust and perhaps, don’t like (we all have those people in our lives).
Above is an example of a completed Circles of Trust exercise. This person has a healthy diagram. She has a few people in the inner circle and is happy with that. Other people may have more people in there. If there are one or less the person may need another person int here in case something happens with that one person who is ultimately trusted.
I have done this exercise with people who have absolutely no one to put in their inner circle. Usually these are individuals who have a childhood history of being hurt by those they were supposed to trust (parents, peers, etc.). These are the people who doubt others and have a hard time getting close and intimate with anyone because of their inability to trust others. In therapy, with these individuals, we work on finding some support people to trust. Living without anyone in your inner circle is lonely and unhealthy.
Some people may trust far too easily. These people may have difficulty with boundaries and let people into their inner circle too easily. A person who trusts too easily will end up trusting the wrong people, revealing personal, intimate secrets to someone who shouldn’t have been in their inner circle. When this happens trusting the wrong person may lead to betrayal later leaving the person questioning what happened and why they were feeling so hurt and betrayed. With people who trust too easily we work on developing and keeping healthy boundaries with others and learning who fits into which circle.
By having clients complete this exercise we can then interpret the circles and look for trust issues to work on or can even explain some of the interpersonal difficulties the person may be experiencing. Using exercises such as this one is informative and interesting. Try completing the Circles for yourself and let me know what you think.
Melissa Muller MA, LMHC