On Trust

On Trust

A reader sent me this excellent talk by Brené Brown on The Anatomy of Trust:

Update: that video is no longer available. This page seems to be the talk.

A few notes:
Trust is built in small moments – do you avert and betray or connect and build trust.
What is trust? Choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.
Distrust – what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.
Acronym “BRAVING” – when we trust we are braving connection with someone.
Trust requires:
B – Boundaries – clear boundaries – your boundaries are clear and held, and you respect mine
R – Reliability – consistently do what you say you’re going to do. Need to be clear on our limitations so don’t over-promise.
A – Accountability – own mistakes, apologize and make amends. And be allowed to.
V – Vault – what I share with you, you will hold in confidence – both ways. Gossip destroys. May share things to hot-wire a connection but talking bad about others doesn’t help connection or trust. “Common enemy intimacy” is not real.
I – Integrity – choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun/fast/easy, practicing your values not just professing them.
N – Non-Judgment – Being able to fall apart without being judged – both ways. If you can’t ask for help and they can’t reciprocate, that’s not a trusting relationship. See value in being a helper? It’s not neutral. You will think less of others needing help if you think less of yourself for asking for it.
G – Generosity – we can assume the most generous thing about the others intentions.

It’s complex. Everybody has struggled with trust. What’s not working? Here are words to help communicate about it.

This also works with self-trust too. Braving self-love, self-respect.
“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves but say I love you.”
Cannot ask for something we don’t feel worthy of receiving.

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Just be careful with talks like this. Understanding trust and how it works helps make the dynamics more clear. But trust is not a concept.

This is where we need to feel and be aware of what we’re feeling.

Mind loves to control and thinks it knows. But you don’t find trust through logic. Learning appropriate use of trust takes being able to feel in real world practice and experience.

Sometimes, I talk here about “shoulds” and “musts.” These are subtle mind stories that tell us things like “we should be able to trust our family” or “we can’t trust the opposite sex.” Those stories may be based on past experience but they’re just stories and must be are discarded to live authentic relationships.

Better to develop good skills, then we can apply trust in specific circumstances that warrant it.

Don’t be hard on yourself about this. Life is messy and it can take time to learn to live well. We’re surrounded by bad examples of how not to live or trust. Television is full of bad examples too. And yet, life is deeply trustworthy under all the noise and hurt of our past.

Last Updated on June 19, 2020 by Davidya

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  1. I plan a further article on trust and power. Sometimes we confuse the two, seeing those in power as inherently trustworthy. But usually the dynamic there is codependency or giving up our power. This is not a place worthy of trust.

  2. Grace

    Thank you for sharing this, David. The timing is perfect for me. I love Brene Brown and her work and have learned so much from her. I’m rereading “Daring Greatly,” which is also full of wisdom.

    What she shares on trust in the video illuminates an experience I just had with a doctor of mine who behaved in a way that badly damaged my trust in him. I also think of a spiritual teacher who damaged trust. Isn’t it interesting to encounter people who want to insist they be trusted when they have not earned it? This is a theme of late I’ve been witnessing.

    1. You’re welcome, Grace.
      As she put it, we want to be generous with people and assume the best. Yet at the same time, we don’t want to give our trust to someone unconditionally. They have to demonstrate they’re worthy.

      We also want to keep in mind that everyone is human and will make mistakes or get triggered and do things to betray our trust. It may not be personal either – just their stuff.

      So we allow for that with friends and don’t put teachers on too high a pedestal.

      But yes, some experts do gain an attitude and get sloppy with any or all of the above. Expertise doesn’t give them good skills as a person though. 🙂

      For you, the key is resolving any charge that resulted from the experience so you don’t make their issue yours.

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