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What Does it Mean to Trust?

24 October 2017

Barbara read Brené Brown’s new book, Braving the Wilderness, and gained a better understanding of the word, trust.

Tags: barbara read, brene brown, courage, trust

Brené Brown has helped me again with her new book, Braving the Wilderness. She always advocates vulnerability and demonstrated it in her opening personal story that was so powerful and poignant that I thought the first 12 pages are worth the price of the book. I’ll leave that for you to read. I’m going to focus on the section where she talks about trust.

When I read her work, I always ask myself, “What does it mean to me to be vulnerable?” My answers are—tell someone when I feel emotionally hurt, when I am scared, when I feel incompetent. To do that I need to trust myself and the person I’m talking to.

But I sometimes have trouble with the word, trust. It seems nebulous to me, but I also think back to high school when a few boys I dated said, “trust me.” If they said it, I immediately didn’t and stopped whatever we were doing.

Brown has given me a new seven-part definition that helps me with the concept. She uses the acronym, BRAVING, in Chapter Two to define the elements of trust. I’ve paraphrased her words to make the definition apply personally to my life and to the person I’m talking to that I want to trust.

  • Boundaries—I can say no and hold to it even if you’re not going to like what I said or maybe even me. However, if you accept or honor my no, trust builds between us.
  • Reliability—I do what I say. You do what you say.
  • Accountability—We each own our own mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
  • Vault—If I ask you not to tell something, you don’t, and I do the same for you.
  • Integrity—We both choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. She describes that as choosing “courage over comfort.”
  • Nonjudgment—We can both ask for help without judging each other or ourselves as being weak.
  • Generosity—We assume the best of each other and “extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intention, words, and action of others.” (I also like how Lilli Powell explains generous interpration in her article, Can We Talk?)

Brené Brown reminds us in all her books and speeches that the path to true connection with other people is to be vulnerable, but she also warns us to only share our stories with those who have earned the right to hear them. Don’t do an emotional data dump on people who would use the information to hurt you.

It’s important to trust yourself to make the judgment about when it’s time to talk about what is going on in your life and when it would be wise to keep things to yourself. I’ve found if I shouldn’t tell, I can always find some relief if I write in my journal about what is worrying me. I will have told God (a higher power, the Universe, or whatever word you use for the mystery of life). I tear up anything that is so risky no should see it. I don’t need to keep it to benefit from having written it.

Think about a time you trusted someone and it was justified and a time when you were disappointed by someone's reaction. Might Brown’s seven-part definition have helped you make a better decision about who, what, and when to tell?


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