Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:49

Trust Redux

Written by  Dr. D. Kim Hamblin
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Several months ago I wrote an article for River Region’s Journey about trust. After more thought, I have realized the importance of looking at any concept through multiple lenses. Trust is a complex concept. Trust is important in clinical work, but it is important in any relationship. A patient introduced me to Brene Brown. If you visit her website,, you will find multiple videos on TedTalks, YouTube, and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). She begins with an anecdote about her 3rd grader who shared some hard things about herself with a couple of friends. When she later walked into her classroom, many children pointed at her and laughed. When telling her mother this story, she said, “I will never trust anybody again.” This is a decision that will isolate any of us as long as we refuse to trust anyone.


Trust is not instantaneous, but is built in “small moments”. Mrs. Brown uses the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G. to talk about trust. The letter B stands for braving connection, but also boundaries. Part of a trusting relationship is about being clear with another person about your own boundaries and expecting the other person to respect your boundaries. A boundary in simple terms refers to who you allow inside the circle of relationships and who you would exclude.


The letter R stands for reliability. Reliability means that you do what say you are going to do and expect the other person to do what they say they’re going to do. You can’t be considered reliable if you fail to do things that you say to do. Reliability implies something that you do over and over. If you are not going to do something, don’t say that you will.


The letter A stands for accountability. Accountability means willingness to own mistakes that we make, apologize, and make amends. It is important to hold ourselves accountable and to hold others accountable. One of the tenets of psychotherapy is that the client must accept responsibility and accountability for past problems and any change in their behavior.


The letter V stands for vault. The word vault encompasses gossip. In Brown’s context it implies that we will hold in confidence what has been told to us in confidence and expect the same from others. Violating this concept can result in the spread of hurtful and sometimes untrue information about other people.  Many Christians consider gossip a sin. Mrs. Brown suggests that sometimes we talk negatively about someone else to make a connection with someone; it can establish “common enemy intimacy”.  Multiple verses in the Bible, especially in Proverbs, refer to the power and the danger of the tongue.


The letter I stands for integrity. By this she means practicing our values, not just proffering our values. As Christians, we are expected to live out Christian values daily rather than to call ourselves Christian without acting according to Christian values. Hypocrite is a word used to describe people who do not live according to their stated Christian values.


The letter N stands fornon-judgmental. Jesus says, “Do not judge and you will not be judged. The standard used in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew, ch. 7, vs. 1 and 3) One way to look at this is the ability to help someone else without judging them.  We can be trusted to be there to help a friend in need. The corollary to this is that we learn we can ask for help ourselves and not be judged. A true nonjudgmental attitude implies reciprocity.


The letter G stands for generosity. We display generosity when we don’t criticize someone without fully understanding the reason for the behavior. We assume the most generous things about words, intentions, and behavior of others. For example, if someone “screws up”, you might remember that yesterday was the 1st year anniversary of this person’s mother’s death.


Breaking trust into these seven components gives us a way of talking about specifics about why trust is not working and figure out what needs to be done to strengthen trust.



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