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What Exactly IS Trust Anyway?

Posted: March 02, 2019 by Nani Waddoups

Contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment are states we often think of when we imagine a healthy and full life. The elements that add up to a satisfying life are a constellation unique to each one of us, but one element we all want in order to feel content and full is connection. Since feeling disconnected is a common barrier to life satisfaction, what is getting in the way? A common alienator is lack of Trust.

What is trust exactly? This month I have been immersing myself in Brene Brown’s recent work on The Anatomy of Trust in order to answer this question. She has broken down trust into seven parts (forming the handy acronym BRAVING for an easy mnemonic device), which help us clearly measure, not only our trust in others, but also our trust in ourselves.

What is trust but a brave showing of our tender underbellies? And how do we know if someone is trustworthy? Before you read further, think of someone you really trust. Keep them in mind as you break down this trust into the parts below:

B – Boundaries: Does this person respect my boundaries? Do they consistently maintain their own boundaries so I know the landscape of our relationship?

R – Reliability: Is this person consistent and dependable over and over again?

A – Accountability: Does this person own their mistakes and take responsibility when they’ve made a misstep?

V – Vault: Is their commitment to confidentiality like a vault? Do they keep my and others’ confidences?

I – Integrity: Does this person live a life of honest ethical and moral conduct?

N – Non-judgmental: Is this person open-minded about different people and ideas? Is this person willing to try to understand and accept differences?

G – Generosity: Does this person give me and others the benefit of the doubt, taking a default stance that others have good intentions and are doing their best?

Can you see how trust is made up of many small experiences of a person demonstrating these aspects of trustworthiness? Solid and rewarding connections happen with those we have learned we can trust with our tender hearts, and when others trust us with their own. Choose to spend time with people who are “BRAVING” their way in life. In a little twist on the famous Gandhi quote, “Be the trust that you want to see.”

Tags: mood and feelings, relationship and family, anxiety

Nani Waddoups (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

Navigating toward existential meaning, and consideration of conditions at play are the roots of my counseling philosophy and style.

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Depression, Anxiety, Loss or Grief, Relationship / Marriage Issues, Coronavirus/COVID-19