Last week I talked about how we all seek meaningful connections. This led me to thinking about what we need to be able to form those connections. The first thing that comes to my mind is trust.

In order for me to have a healthy relationship with someone I need to trust them… but what does that actually mean?

Trust is choosing to make something important to you

vulnerable to the actions of someone else.

Charles Feltman

When I think about trust I use the word in many scenarios. There are people I trust to show up and be reliable who I wouldn’t trust to share my secrets with. There are people I would trust to be honest with me but I wouldn’t trust them to not talk about me behind my back.

So what is trust? As I wrestled with trying to understand it I found this great talk from Brené Brown that defines and explains it well. Have a look!

Brené uses the acronym BRAVING to talk about the elements of trust. Let me summarize her thoughts for you. But seriously watch the video… she explains it well!

  • Boundaries – Trust is possible when I know what you are, and are not okay with in our relationship.
  • Reliability – Trust is possible when I know you will do what you say you’re going to do… over and over and over again! Not just once. It takes time.
  • Accountability – Trust is possible if you are willing to own your mistakes, apologize and make amends, and let me do the same.
  • Vault – Trust is possible when we hold in confidence the things shared with us. We also need to refuse to participate when others share things that are not theirs to share.
  • Integrity – Trust is possible when we consistently choose courage over comfort, choose what’s right over what’s fast, fun or easy, and practice our values, not just profess them.
  • Non-judgement – Trust is possible when we can offer help or fall apart and ask for help without being judged. If you judge yourself for needing help then you judge others for needing help whether you realize it or not.
  • Generosity – Trust is possible when we assume the most generous thing about each others’ words and behaviours.

All of these things are a part of trust. It is possible to trust someone in one area but not in another! When we say we don’t trust someone we can better define what that looks like if we have the right language.

In Foster Care we are asked to provide healthy connections for children who have often been traumatized by the choices of the adults in their lives. That takes building trust.

Many children in care had no opportunity to learn trust because boundaries were crossed, or non-existent in the first place, adults were unreliable and refused to be accountable for their actions, and integrity was muddied. Judgments and assumptions were made, and the children often bore the brunt of that. Not only was there a lack of connection there was no clear idea of what trust could be.

So how do we begin to build a foundation of trust with children who have walked through trauma?

It begins with walking out the values that are listed above! We set the best stage for trust to grow if:

  • We are clear on what we expect and what we will tolerate
  • We keep our word and honour our commitments
  • We own up to our mistakes and do our best to make things right
  • We hold in confidence the things that are shared with us and protect the stories that aren’t ours to tell
  • We prove that we will do what is right no matter who is looking or what the consequences will be
  • We help without judgement and ask for help when needed
  • We assume the best of everyone, all the time!

The reality is that it won’t be an equal playing field. I will need to be trustworthy even when they are not. Which makes non-judgement and generosity of thought the most challenging things on the list for me! It is humbling to realize that when I judge myself for needing help… I am judging others who need it whether I realize it or not.

I am in the business of helping others… it is the nature of being a Foster Parent, so how do I root out those judgmental attitudes? I recognize the fact that no one gets it right 100% of the time, but mental assent to a fact doesn’t mean we walk it out well! I still judge myself for having to ask for help. This was driven home to me this year as we had to ask for help for a situation we could not manage. It took a lot of mental work to humble ourselves and ask! Which showed me the underlying judgement we make. I would rather help than be helped!! Yet we all need help sometimes, so why is that so hard to swallow?

So how do I continue to stay in a space where I can believe the best about the Other Mother. How do I have a generous mindset towards her and believe that she truly did the best she could in the situation she was given. It is easier to be generous with my possessions and my time than with my thoughts! This is my work to do.

So if you find yourself struggling to trust someone I hope this framework gives you language to talk about it. Trust is a tenuous thing to build. Keep building, it leads to beautiful connection.

The next question is “Are you trustworthy?” As you read over the list or listen to the talk by Brené Brown, what stands out to you? What do you need to work on so that you can be trusted by others? I know what my work is.

In the midst of the mess


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