Brené Brown has researched trust extensively. If you have not heard of her, try googling her. She has written many helpful and inspirational books.
She speaks of trust being like a marble jar. When you share the hard times and the bad things that have happened to you and your friends listen, empathise and maintain confidentiality then marbles go in your jar. You know you can trust these friends.
When your friend lets you share her seat when there is nowhere to sit, that is another marble earned. She has looked out for you and that makes her trustworthy.
When your friend remembers something about your life that is important, that is another marble earned. Caring enough to remember things about you is trustworthy.
When you friend is willing to stop what they are doing to help you, that is another marble earned. They consider you important enough to put you first when you need that help.
When you have a hard time, maybe you have an appointment that you are worried about, or you are going to the funeral of a loved one. The friend who messages you that they are thinking of you and asks if you are okay, they have earned a marble.
The surprising one is when the friend needs help and trusts you enough to ask for help.
Trust is formed in the little things in life. The friend who says hello when you walk past each other on the street. The friends who looks at you and thinks you look sad so stops to check in with you. The friend who takes the time to connect with you. Even if that connection is just a quick smile to say I see you. Maybe a quick “I’m really busy right now, can I call you later?” Anything that says “I see you and you matter”.
The definition of trust is sometimes surprising. It is that we choose to make ourselves vulnerable to another person by sharing something important to us.
The flip side of this is distrust, where you share something important with another person and what you shared is not safe with that person. They are quite likely to share it with others, maybe in a salacious way.
One of Brené’s most popular books is “Braving the Wilderness”.
In it she explains the acronym BRAVING.
It is an amazing reminder of trust. It is really helpful when you have never learned how to trust.
Here it is:
B: boundaries. I trust you if you are clear about your boundaries and mine and hold and respect them.
R: reliable. I can only trust you if you do what you say you are going to do consistently over and over again. Once is not enough to prove your reliability.
A: accountability. I can only trust you if you are willing to own the mistakes your make, apologise and make amends. I can only own my mistakes if you do the same for me.
V: vault. The things I share with you, you keep in confidence and I will do the same. I expect you not to gossip about others because in gossiping you are showing me that you do not respect the confidences you have no right to share. If you respect confidentiality then I can trust you. People who share bad stories about others form a counterfeit trust and both are likely to breach confidences about each other.
I: integrity. If you act with integrity and encourage me to do the same then I can trust you. You have chosen courage over comfort. You have chosen right over the fun, fast and easy. You speak your values and practise them as well.
N: non judgement. If you don’t judge me, especially when I have fallen apart then I can trust you. If you ask for help and receive it then our relationship is one of trust. If you set a value on needing help, or think less of yourself for needing help then I am judging others who need help. It is essential in a trusting relationship that both parties help each other out.
G: generosity. If you assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions and behaviours and check in with me. Then I can trust you. What I mean is that if I was having a bad day because it was my deceased mother’s birthday and you didn’t ring to check up on me I will speak to you and say I would have appreciated a call. Not saying this in a judgemental way, but speaking honestly and on judgementally about my needs. If you do the same to me I will listen with the same generosity and accept your voicing of your need as an expression of what you need, not a judgement. Always ask for what you need, don’t assume the other person will magically know what you want.
Many people struggle with self trust. You can apply these steps to yourself as well. If you aim to trust yourself then you are choosing to treat yourself with love and respect.
If your marble jar is not full then you cannot count on yourself to be trustworthy to others. You cannot ask people to ask what you cannot give. Trust is a mutual thing.
It takes a lot of courage to trust yourself. It takes a lot of courage to trust others. The first step is acknowledging you are worthy of receiving trust. Then follow the BRAVING steps for trusting yourself. Finally apply those steps to other people. If that person fails the BRAVING test, chalk it up to experience, acknowledge and allow your hurt, show self compassion in soothing the hurt, and move on to the next person.