What do we do when we have experienced a rupture in a relationship that feels beyond repair?
What do we do when we feel broken inside? How can we gain trust after feeling so betrayed?
If you are asking yourself these questions, you are not alone.
Ruptures and betrayals in relationships are common, yet hurtful to cope with.
In my clinical and professional practice, I have come to learn how difficult it can be to overcome these types of relationship injuries.
According to Dr. Mario Martinez, betrayal is one of the most difficult relationship wounding to recover from. This notion matters because it helps normalize the complexities and time it may require from healing from such hurt.
To begin the healing process of relationship injuries, betrayals, or ruptures; we must first start by defining trust.
Like Dr. Dan Siegel says, “When we can name it we can tame it.” Naming things can help us by providing us with a tangible roadmap of what might initially felt abstract and impossible.
Hence, what is trust?
To do so, we will use Brene Brown’s definition of trust using acronym BRAVING:
B– stands for boundaries. We are more likely to trust others who respect and honor our boundaries. The same is vice versa. People are more like to trust us when we respect and honor other people’s boundaries.
R– stands for reliability. We are far more likely to trust someone who is reliable, more like to follow through with what they say. The same occurs for us. People will trust us when we follow through with what we say while providing congruent and consistent actions. This is the connection between what we say and do.
A– stands for accountability. When there is a rupture, a mistake, or misunderstanding and the individual accepts responsibility versus blaming, deflecting, minimizing, or denying, we are far more likely to trust them. This applies to us as well. When we genuinely accept responsibility for the actions, missteps, or errors made on our part, individuals are more like to trust us as well.
V– stands for vault. This means that whatever is shared in confidence is kept private. When we share something private to someone and they do not divulge it to others, we are more likely to trust them. The same occurs if the individual practices respecting other people’s privacy. When we practice privacy for others, especially things that are sensitive or confidential in nature or when asked to, others are more like to place their trust in us as well.
I– stands for integrity. We trust individuals who have a sense of integrity, meaning their words, values, and actions are congruent. We are less likely to trust someone who says one thing but does another action that does not match. We normally call this dissonance or incongruency which causes discomfort for the self and others. The same occurs for us. People are likely to trust us when we practice congruency, as best as possible, with what we say, value, and do.
N– stands for nonjudgment. This is an important element that applies to criticism. Feedback can be constructive and helpful; however, like Dr. Julie Gottman explains, criticism can hurt. When there is open mindedness and compassion (non-judgement), we are more likely to trust individuals. The same applies to us. When we practice nonjudgement by being open minded and compassionate to others, individuals are more likely to trust us.
G– stands for generous assumption. This last concept is a difficult one to apply, yet an important one. When there is trust in a relationship, instead of assuming the worse in others, the practice is to make the most generous assumption (providing the benefit of the doubt) when we are missing information. Likewise, when we feel that people assumed the worse in us, it leads to feelings of mistrust and doubt in the relationship. However, when we feel that we were given the benefit of the doubt, it helps increase levels of trust.
This acronym may not make the feelings of a rupture or betrayal disappear. However, it can help us understand where and why we experienced hurt in the first place. This can help us begin exploring, “What was important to me and what was missing in this relationship?”
Finally, trust is a treasure that is so vital in any relationship. It’s not immediate and it takes time to cultivate. Yet, it can be hurt in seconds, moments, or over time. My hope for you is to have tangible information that can help better understand the definition of trust. Granted, trust is not exclusive to these elements, however, it can help us reflect on the things that are missing or working in any given relationship.
With warmth and kindness,
Gottman, J. M., & DeClaire, J. (2002). The relationship cure: a five-step guide to strengthening your marriage, family, and friendships. New York: Harmony Books.
Martinez, M. E. (2016). The mindbody code: how to change the beliefs that limit your health, longevity, and success. Sounds True.
Brene Brown (2015) “Anatomy of Trust.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6442YcvEUH8&list=PLwCIGPNhuP8uQGgsGG3LFvwQiEP73uXn5
Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, T. P. (2012). The Whole-Brain Child : 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. Bantam Books.