Last week I facilitated a two day meeting with a group of women from around the province who independently work and meet with other women who are victims of domestic violence. They are Outreach workers, whose daily routine isn't really routine at all because they are the ones who respond to a call for help. For the most part, they don't have access to others who could understand the perils and personal stories shared. There was no way to debrief all that they experienced in the course of their workday. The purpose of the meeting..........the coming together of these women was to give them a chance to get to know one another and to see if they would be interested in forming a network where support and sharing would be the objective. It was a resounding success.
On the morning of the second day, I decided to generate a discussion on trust.....what is it.....how do you build it.......how does it feel? I knew that they had managed as a group to acquire trust in one another the day before. How had that happened so quickly? We began with a brainstorming ........
allowing for vulnerability
being comfortable with vulnerability
It was a lively discussion, which led to a deeper discussion on the importance of empathy..... not that one has to experience the same life events and/or traumas to be able to feel true empathy. Rather, if one can consider the feelings which underlie the situation, one can understand more deeply because it is emotion which we share. This is where we can understand. It is the key to empathic genuine regard. If for example I know that fear and loneliness are the crux of the emotions a person in need is feeling, I can understand because I know what fear and loneliness feels like. And in order to be able to access one's own deep well of emotions to be able to really understand as much as possible, one has to be comfortable with all of those feelings.
That's difficult for many............. but if you're any good at helping others in a crisis situation; if you're any good at being a counsellor, you have to be willing to sit alongside someone else and allow them to be. You gotta be fine with raw honesty......
This weekend, I've been thinking about this discussion and wondering how it applies to friendship building. Sometimes trust simply feels like it has always been there, but most of the time trust is formed through building blocks. We are generally wary human beings and so most of the time take it slowly, especially if the friendship is new. So, it is always a surprise when someone whom you may be cultivating a relationship with, slowly building trust block by block, is found to have lied. It may take a long time to build trust, but it only takes one omission, one lie to send things tumbling down.
All of a sudden...............the once flourishing relationship is wrought with doubt. Mess with someone who has originally felt safe to be vulnerable enough to share their heart, and look out.
This isn't the case so much in a counselling/client relationship, because there isn't such an investment in the relationship. Though it does alter it and the trust is gone, there isn't the emotional tie like there is with a friendship.
Trust is sacred. Trust is a treasured gift you give to another because it is so much a part of your own spirit. Well, it is mine. Even though I seem to be willing to give it pretty freely, if someone crosses the line with dishonesty, even if it is obvious they are really being dishonest with themselves, I recoil. I know what it is that it triggers in me...........it's the feeling of being perceived as a fool. Looking and feeling stupid just doesn't sit well with me and it is where my head goes when I find myself in a situation where I am questioning the truth and trust of another. We all have triggers. I try to be as real and honest as I can, sometimes more than others are comfortable with. Trust is the crux of these two important facets.
We all have secrets. We all have unspoken dreams and fantasies, some of which may illicit those stomach churning feelings of guilt and shame. If you spit out one story and spin it one way make sure it's the truth or keep your mouth closed so as not to hurt someone. Trust is more delicate than we give it credit for. Handle it with care. Cup it with both hands.