“I found that the more truthful and vulnerable I was, the more empowering it was for me”

— Anon

Why trust is like a marble jar

Why trust is like a marble jar

It’s been a good while since last I wrote anything, mainly because I’ve been juggling a lot of large and serious life admin along with writing a comedy script with my insane partner in comedy writing crime, Olivia. Having said that, I’ve also been jotting a few creative ideas down during that time. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I came upon something which really made me feel like I had to carve some time out to share it with other people. (it’s since taken me another few weeks to actually finish writing it up, but life gets busy!).

This particular piece of inspiration came courtesy of the website Mystic Mamma, which is all about astrology - if that’s your bag, it’s definitely worth checking out. Their regular weekly astrology, Weekly Guidance from Kaypacha, the creator of which seems to have definitely taken his fair share of mind altering drugs, always shares some fascinating psychological insights in his weekly posts.

This time he shared a video talk by Brene Brown, an American professor who specialises in social issues like vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame, on the subject of trust and I thought it was fascinating.

In the talk, which you can check out here,  she discusses trust in great depth but in a nutshell explains that:

Trust is like a marble jar

We should approach trust like a marble jar (the kind that some teachers use as a reward system in schools). When someone does things which show can trust them, more “trust” marbles go in the jar. And visa versa. When they do something which breaks our trust, we take marbles out. And when the jar has been full consistently for a while then we know this is someone we can really count on. When it’s empty, we probably need to reassess that relationship.

I loved this analogy. It made me realise that in certain situations, I place my trust in people far too quickly. I like to think I can trust my gut instinct and act upon it, rather than being patient and waiting to collect more empirical evidence. I sense a new personal development homework project coming on...

Trust is based on small not large gestures

Apparently all of the scientific research shows that trust is built in those small moments, and not by big gestures. Things like:

  • Someone remembering your relatives names and saying hi if they bump into the street, or other little personal details about you which they have no incentive to remember or reason to know about.

  • A boss who knows you have issues at home and checks in on you to see how they’re going i.e. a sick parent or child

  • People who make the effort to attend funerals of people who were close to you purely to show their support

She calls them ‘sliding door’ moments. Where either you or someone puts someone in need before their own pleasure i.e. cancelling your fun plans to look after a friend having a bad day. This is something I cottoned onto a while ago when I noticed that I was placing trust in people who would gladly ditch me at a moments notice in order to take-up what seemed like a better offer. Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but took me a while to realise that people who do that aren’t really very good friends. More interestingly though, apparently asking someone for help when you need it is also a big defining moment! I am notoriously bad at this one * slaps wrist *

Trust is B.R.A.V.I.N.G

To try and summarise trust succinctly Brene created a lovely acronym to help us define trust or the lack of it in our lives, either through our own actions or that of others:

Boundaries: Knowing what you will or won’t put up with and why, and being okay to share that with people clearly so they can be aware of them and respect them, and visa versa.  For example, not wanting to sleep with someone on the first date because that’s important to you...and them respecting that boundary i.e. not throwing a strop about it.

Reliability: I can only trust you if you do what you say you’re doing to do, time and time again.  But equally we have to be honest about we’re actually capable of so that we don’t break trust i.e. I cannot support you right now because I am really struggling with x,y,z.

Accountability: I can only trust you if you make a mistake you take accountability for it, own it and make amends. And like-wise the other way around.

Vault: If I ask you hold something in confidence, then you hold it in confidence. And I see you acknowledge other people’s confidentiality, not just mine.

Integrity: I can’t trust you or be in a trusting relationship if you don’t act with integrity. Integrity is choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun or easy and practicing your values, not just professing them.

Non-Judgement: I can fall-apart and being struggle and ask for help without being judged by you - and visa versa.

Generosity: Our relationship is only a trusting one if you can make a generous assumptions about people and then check in with them to make sure it’s right i.e. if someone forgets that it is your birthday, rather than wait to see them and say “hey you forgot my birthday” and get really mad instantly, you check in with them and say something like “hey is everything ok? I didn’t hear from you on my birthday and you are usually so good about remembering,  I just wanted to see if something had happened?”

Woah this is now quite a long post so I’ll finish by saying that this all resonated with me for two reasons. The first being that I’ve let a few friendships fall by the wayside over the last few years because I realised that the marble jar had been totally emptied. Not that’s not to say that it can’t be refilled at some point, because in my experience these things ebb and flow. The second being that I need to make a conscious effort to keep the marble jar in mind when I form new relationships with people. I’ve already been putting into practice since I watched the video actually.

Has any of the above rung true with you? Do you have any relationships you think would benefit from being viewed with the marble jar in mind?  Or did you already have all of this sussed out already?

Would love to hear in the comments!

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