How to Build Trust by “BRAVING” it

How do we rebuild trust? This is a common question that couples ask when they come to meet with me. The concept of trust can be a complicated one. I suggest that we define what makes up trust in a relationship to begin with. After we’ve defined trust, we can discuss ways to rebuild it. One of the best definitions of trust that I have found comes from Brene Brown’s talk, “The Anatomy of Trust.” She suggests an acronym that helps define the components that make up trust.

B – Boundaries: Trust must begin on a foundation of mutually respected boundaries–for one’s self and the relationship.

R – Reliability: Trust builds as we prove that we are reliable–being where we say we will be, doing what we say we will do.

A – Accountability: The more one is willing to own up to his or her own mistakes, the more trustworthy he or she will be.

V – Vault: What we talk about stays between us, no gossiping, can trust that we can talk in confidence

I – Integrity: This means that one is willing to choose courage over comfort, being honest and true to one’s values even when it is uncomfortable

N – Non-judgment: being able to refrain from judgment, including being able to ask for help or give help without judgment

G – Generosity: giving others the benefit of the doubt and assume they are trying their best.

Now that you have a better idea of some of the components, or the anatomy, of trust, I suggest you do an honest self-inventory. How well do you set boundaries in your relationship? Do you choose disappointing your spouse rather than saying no to a friend? Do you consistent do what you say you’re going to do? Or do you over-promise to avoid confrontation? Do you admit when you’ve made a mistake? Or do you tend to get defensive? Do you keep the things in your relationship private? Or do you run to a friend for validation when you’ve had an argument with your partner? Do you tell your spouse when a ex-girlfriend messages you on Facebook? Or do you keep it secret to avoid the uncomfortable discussion that will follow? Are you able to ask your partner for help when you need it? Or do you view yourself or your partner as “weak” for needing help? Do you assume the best? Or do you jump to worst case scenarios when it comes to your partner’s intentions?

If you’re lacking in some of these areas, begin by focusing on one at a time. Don’t expect perfection but work on being consistent. When you feel it is becoming more natural for you, add another area of focus. You will find that your spouse or partner will notice your efforts. As a result, he or she will feel more connected to you and will be able to be more open and loving with you–the rewards of being a trustworthy partner.

 

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