In considering the Trust article, it’s useful to distinguish between trust and power.
Brené defined trust as: “Choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.” More commonly it is defined as “Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.”
Trust does Not mean giving away our power. Being vulnerable to sharing is not the same as giving our power to someone. Just because someone has earned our trust does not mean we should give them our power. If power is being usurped, there is boundary, accountability, and integrity issues at play. That’s not trust.
Power is the “Strength or force exerted or capable of being exerted; might.” or “The ability or capacity to perform or act effectively.” It is our ability to use our energy to get things done.
Force in this context is using our power against others. “The use of physical power or violence to compel or restrain.”
When we were young, we may have found it unsafe to be in our power. We may even have found ourselves subjected to force or control – even by well-meaning but unhealed parents. If we’ve repressed or are disconnected from our power, we’re much less effective in the world and often seek solutions outside of ourselves.
Power is a third chakra (gut) dynamic. When ego is in play, power leans towards control and protection. We may try to take others power to increase our own sense of safety and control. But then you’re not allowing them to be accountable, you’re stepping out of integrity, and you’re crossing boundaries that are there – even if unstated.
Yet power cannot just be taken. It has to be offered to be taken. When we feel powerless, we may look to others for support rather than finding our own power. If we feel weak, we look for the strong. But that reaching for support is an offering. Those inclined to force and control are the ones inclined to take it.
Notice the difference here between power and energy. Power uses energy to get things done. We might call power the ability to harness and direct energy. Taking our power is not taking our energy, it is taking our confidence to use it.
Similarly, if we have needs we’re looking to fulfill outside of ourselves, often unconsciously, we can open ourselves to abuse and the usurping of power. Co-dependence driven by needs is not a trust relationship.
Just as we can give away our power unintentionally, we can equally take it back. Katy Perry’s song Roar comes to mind.
Brené also gives the example of helpers who can’t accept help, marking a power issue. If you think less of yourself for asking for help, your efforts to help others include a better-than judgment. You’re placing yourself above them in power. Efforts to support others when power is in play often have unintended side-effects, including dis-empowering those you attempt to help.
This isn’t about over-thinking it. It’s being aware of power, how it feels, and where it’s coming from within and around us. When we rest in our power, we can give energy to our gifts and abilities and get results in the world. Control is not required.