One of the biggest struggles in navigating through relationships is building and sustaining trust. Being able to fully trust another person involves vulnerability and accountability – two components that can elicit feelings of fear and dread in even the strongest of people. I was recently re-introduced to one of Brené Brown’s concepts called BRAVING and responded to it as if it were the first time that I’d been exposed to her teachings. I recognized that I had feelings of fear, disappointment, regret, and anxiety in hearing this concept again. Not that these feelings were rooted in concern that I had done anything wrong or that anyone else had done me wrong, rather I allowed myself to hear her reinforce the importance of trust within a relationship. I don’t know about you, but I find it very easy to allow myself to wear the ‘victim hat’ and focus on how someone else has broken my trust. If I haven’t clearly established my ‘BRAVING’ components though, how can I hold anyone else accountable for theirs? The answer is that I can’t; I can only hold myself accountable for something that I didn’t take the time to establish at the beginning of the relationship, and take steps to embrace BRAVING in the present.
Brené breaks down BRAVING as such:
B – Boundaries - establishing clear boundaries for yourself and for your relationship. Are your limits respected within the relationship? Are you respecting the other person’s limits?
R – Reliability - is the other person there for you you when they said they would be? Are you there for others when you said you would be?
A – Accountability - are others accountable for their mistakes and misgivings? Do you hold yourself accountable for yours?
V – Vault - are others able to hold things that you’ve shared with them in complete confidence? Are you able to do the same?
I – Integrity - do the actions of others match their words? What about for yourself?
N – Non-Judgement - is there an air of compassion and non-judgment when engaging with others? Are you able to listen to others without quickly jumping to judgement?
G – Generosity - does the other person assume the best about your words, actions, and feelings? Are you able to do the same for the other person?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above, grab a hold of that person tightly and don’t let that relationship go!! All joking aside, if you genuinely can answer yes to all of those components, the trust between you and the other person is steadfast. If, though, like most of us, you struggled in saying yes or found yourself confidently saying no, there is a path forward and this is where the work begins. As with any human connection, there is always hope for change. The first step in creating any sort of change is in identifying the problem, so congratulations! You’re halfway there!
Re-read through the BRAVING components (Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgement, and Generosity) and parse out the pieces that don’t feel strong. Ask yourself what may be going on that’s causing some shakiness for you. Are there ‘yucky’ things from the past that are coming up within your current relationship or is the ‘yuck’ being born out of the relationship itself? Stop and ask yourself - “what is it that I need?” Your answer will be the doorway into your repair.