BRAVING:  Trust in Relationships

Many of my clients are learning how to thrive after narcissistic abuse, or pulling out of relationships with narcissists.  [Narcissism is a disorder in which the person has an inflated sense of self-importance.  Narcissistic personality disorder is found more commonly in men.  The cause is unknown but probably involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement.  In short, a narcissist doesn’t truly acknowledge the validity of any other person, no matter what the form of the relationship.  It’s always about him (or her, but usually him).  A narcissist constantly controls the interaction by blaming or belittling the other, by pushing away then attracting until you sit on the exact edge of their comfort zone.  They can be very charming and persuasive, but their primary aim is to get attention/validation, or to ‘win’ a game only they are playing.]

What those who stumble across narcissists find most beneficial is to work on their own wounds, or whatever makes them vulnerable to a narcissist who apparently sympathizes;  it’s also important to have a good sense of their own boundaries, meaning a trust in where “I” end and where “You” begin.  Good boundaries also mean that when a red flag goes up, the person pays attention rather than overriding their gut feeling that something is off-kilter — that, in fact, they cannot trust the person or the situation. The inability to trust is, in itself, the biggest creator of stress, and stress in turn can easily lead to imbalance and disease in the body or nervous system.

When working with a client recently, I came across the following checklist for observing, acknowledging, and creating trust.  Devised by Brené Brown, this list is called BRAVING*, and it’s the single best checklist I’ve found to help in this area.

Braving:  The Seven Elements of Trust

Boundaries | You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.

Reliability | You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t over promise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

Accountability | You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.

Vault | You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share.  I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.

Integrity | You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

Nonjudgment | I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.

Generosity | You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

Can you see how this works?  It’s about being confident in your own value, so that you listen to your intuition rather than being persuaded that you are wrong or overly sensitive when you sense that something untrustworthy is going on — when you feel that stress.  The more trustworthy YOU are, the more you can rely on your inner senses to trust others.  Furthermore, the willingness to honor your own internal guidance system will usually save you from getting into situations that you know in your gut will only bring you stress and pain further down the road.

* copyright (c) 2018 by Brené Brown, LLC;

1 comment

  1. Adams Amy -

    Informative article. I think I may have become aware of narcissistic behavior lately. Listening to your Intuition as a marker is key.

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