It’s startling to hear something you’ve shared with someone in confidence being talked about elsewhere. It makes you feel so exposed, but, more important, it undermines trust in the relationship. Perhaps keeping secrets isn’t possible, and Ben Franklin was right when he said, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
But, just maybe, people should try harder to be worthy of trust. Brené Brown talks about the important elements of trust, to the acronym BRAVING:
Boundaries Setting boundaries is making clear what’s okay and what’s not okay, and why
Reliability You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t overpromise 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 Choosing courage over comfort; choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; and practicing your values, not just 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 Extending the most generous interpretation to the intentions, words, and actions of others.
It is important to learn which stories are yours to share, to leave the decision whether to share in the hands of the person who owns the story, and to be a safe place for your friend to come. We all need friends; let’s be good ones.
How are you doing? For many of us, we are stressed and overcome by the events of the day, with each day revealing ever more things to keep us up at night. How do we cope?
Blaming ourselves for this stress, or piling on isn’t kind. We wouldn’t do that to someone we cared about. Instead, we would remind our loved one how much we care about them, of how glad we are that they are part of our lives, and of how we will get through these challenging times. After all, we have survived every difficulty life has thrown us so far.
Perhaps we would remind our loved one of the things that bring them joy and look for ways to help them incorporate more of these things into their days.
These are some of the ways we can help each other with the stress. We need to help ourselves in just this way as well. Remind yourself that you have gotten through many difficulties before and will get through this. Look for ways to bring more joy and connection into your life. Seek out things that bring you comfort, and learn how to de-stress
From Shari: What are some ways you have brought yourself comfort during this pandemic?
For me, I’ve found that long-distance running brings me relief. I have an elliptical now so my knees don’t complain, and I can run and run and run until I feel calm.
Sometimes we clench our jaws and build up our walls so that no one will hurt us or challenge us. We try to protect ourselves this way, but instead we become isolated. The people we’ve locked out feel threatening to us, so we make our guard stronger and more impenetrable. And we grow more isolated and afraid.
Brené Brown describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” It’s that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control. But our strength is in our vulnerability, and when we open to pain, we also open to joy and connection. It is our authentic selves that hunger for connection, not the masks and shows we put on. Brenè Brown continues this way:
“I wasn’t taught how to deal with uncertainty or how to manage emotional risk. I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few. Learning how to be vulnerable has been a street fight for me, but it’s been worth it.”
The world isn’t black and white. It is nuanced and a zillion shades of gray. As are people, including you. As we open to our own authentic selves, and risk sharing that self with others, we open more fully to life, to experience, and to genuine connection with others.
For more, here is her original TED talk on vulnerability, a talk that has resonated with millions over the years.
We were made to create. To shine. To share all the things that make us happy and bring us joy. Even, for that matter, the things that hurt and keep us up. Creativity allows our souls to sneak out of the shadows in our inner selves and dance with other brave souls. Creativity gives us the opportunity to touch others deep down where their real selves dwell. To commune. And that’s a very cool thing.
We are more separated into camps than perhaps we’ve ever been. It is now possible to watch news that confirms your world view, to go to schools or socialize only with people who share your perspective, and to alienate yourself from the rest, the ‘others’. But, even though we may think that being only with birds of our feather, might make us feel more included, it is really making us more lonely. Turns out what we have in common in those homogeneous group is mostly just a common set of people to dislike. Anger, distrust, alienation grows rather than wanes, and we become more apart because echo chambers breed loneliness.
In this fascinating interview, Brene Brown shares what her research has uncovered. That rather than stifle ourselves to fit in by conforming, what is ultimately freeing is showing up authentically in diverse groups. We are stronger in our community because of, not despite, our differences because there is a huge difference between fitting in and belonging.
There may be those who want to silence you or refuse to hear your perspective. Perhaps you are afraid to speak your truth. Take heart. As Brené Brown says:
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor– the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences–good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage’.”