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I want to talk a little today about trust. One of the most profound lessons I have learned in life is that trust is the absolute foundation of any relationship. Without trust we won’t allow ourselves to be truly vulnerable, and without being vulnerable we cannot truly connect, and without connection we starve and essentially die. Connection is, as we have discussed previously, essential for human life. We need connection in safe, loving relationships to survive and to thrive. Yet none of that can exist without trust.

What I learned (the hard way, of course) is that you can love someone unconditionally and continually sacrificially pour yourself out in love for them for a long time. But if trust is not there, eventually we have to put walls up and pull back in order to survive. When an environment that destroys trust exists, even love will eventually be affected. Love needs trust and respect to flourish and grow. Without those two things, it eventually will wither. I won’t say die, although for many I am sure that is true. For me, I cannot say that my love dies. If I have ever loved you, then you can know that I still do. I don’t “stop” loving anyone. The way I love and the capacity in which I love may change, but I will still love. When someone behaves repeatedly over time in untrustworthy ways, it is damaging and even dangerous for us to continue to love them unconditionally without limits. This is how abused women stay until they are killed. If a partner is abusive yet we continue to love them unconditionally without limits, our very life could be in danger. At the very least, our health is. It is wearing to the immune system, the adrenaline system, and the heart to continually be forced to live in a state of high-alert, hyperarousal, or fight-or-flight. It does take a toll on every part of you. Other forms of untrustworthy behavior are similar in that they can do damage to us if we continually expose ourselves to them in those closest to us. We can love someone without trusting them. We can love someone and be respectful and kind to them without giving them access to us to inflict harm, also. Sometimes the best we can offer someone is “loving from a distance,” as I like to call it. This is what I call it when you keep someone at an emotional distance and limit physical interaction with them, but still have love for them in your heart and still wish good things for them. This is how we can continue to love someone who we know does not have our best interests at heart and may even cause us harm if we interact with them.

Now, back to the topic at hand, TRUST. What things should we look for when determining if someone is trustworthy, and what things tell others if WE are trustworthy? I have found what I will call a “measuring stick” for trust. One of my favorite authors, social work researcher Brené Brown developed a mnemonic for the aspects of trust we need to be aware of: BRAVING.

A Recipe for TRUST:





Integrity Nonjudgement


(Brené Brown 2017)

Dr. Brown’s mnemonic BRAVING (from Braving the Wilderness) stands for: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Nonjudgement, and Generosity (Brown 2017) . It is important to check ourselves, and others, in these areas. BOUNDARIES: Are boundaries being respected? Meaning, do they respect OUR boundaries? Do we respect other people’s boundaries when we interact with them? If we set a physical boundary, do they cross it uninvited? Do we push past others’ physical or personal boundaries to get our way? RELIABILITY: Are we/they reliable? On time? Do we do what we say we are going to do? ACCOUNTABILITY: Are we/they accountable? Do we own up to our mistakes and make them right where possible? Do we take personal responsibility in life? VAULT: Do we/they keep one another’s confidence? (Do we keep private things stored away in our “vault”). Do we share our friends’ secrets with others? Do those around us share things we have told them privately with others? INTEGRITY: Do we/they behave with integrity? Do we maintain our own ethical standards? Do we respect the laws and rules around us? Are we respectful of ourselves and others? NON-JUDGEMENTAL: Are we/they nonjudgmental of others? Do we accept people as they are and not place our own expectations on them? GENEROSITY: Do we/they proceed with generosity in our assumptions? Do we give others the benefit of the doubt before assuming the worst about them when we don’t have all of the information? These may be some tough questions to ask ourselves, and to ask of others. But it is a really good “measuring stick” to operate by, I believe, in order to understand all that is involved in trusting and being trusted. We should trust those who are trustworthy, and we should do our best to behave in a trustworthy fashion at all times. So, take some time over the next week to evaluate and ask am I measuring up? :)


Brown, Brené. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Random House Publishing, 2017.

Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. New York City, NY: Gotham, 2012.

Brown, Brené. Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution. Random House Publishing, 2015.

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