Monday, January 14, 2008


hiding away from the truth?
where's waldo?

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 do you build 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 ........

safe harbour
genuine regard
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'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.


Rainbow dreams said...

Trust is one of the most valuable things you can have - in fact maybe the most fragile thing I can think of...
and one of the hardest things to rebuild once it's lost..

It surely is one of those heart gifts that are worth more than their weight in gold.

And how true - it all starts with being honest with ourselves..

I'm sure your meeting will have long lasting benefits for those women providing them much needed support.
Thank you

Shaz said...

Trust is like katie said so precious and what greatpost to visit on sweet. I have missed you and your words of wisdom. My computer should be back this week so I cant wait to be with you daily.
Lots of hugs xx

Awareness said...

Katie. I had forgotten that I had written on this topic last year too. Just reread it.....I had included a quote then from Jean Vanier....which I loved then...and still do

"Communion is mutual trust, mutual belonging; it is the to-and-fro movement of love between two people where each one gives and each one receives..........."

"Trust is a beautiful form of love. When we are generous, we give money time and knowledge. In trust, we give ourselves. But we can only give of ourselves if we trust that we will be well-received by someone."

it is a wonderful feeling of communion when trust is shared.

Shaz....Glad to see your smiling face. Look forward to you getting back online again soon. It's been far too long! take care. :)

Disillusioned said...

Yes to all of this. It takes time to build up trust - but it can be shattered very easily.

Mark said...

Trust is the essential building block of any positive relationship. Very good post. Great reminder for all of us to be aware of how we tell our truths.

Awareness said... surely can shatter easily, expecially if you are feeling like you've opened yourself up and shared much of yourself.

Mark.....I did want to quote Stephen Colbert and his "truthiness." I think we all have a bit of a politician in front of the media in us, or at least the potential to talk out of both sides of our mouth if we want to.
but, i think lies and omissions always end up biting you in the butt.

Robert said...

meaty stuff dana!!! i like what you said about there being parts of ourselves we dont even know about we are such complex creatures im trying to unravel how my fear issues relate to feelings of lacking trust this post helps me process things more always so enjoy your writing sweet friend

Gypsy said...

Great post Dana. I hate being taken for a fool and a breach of trust just makes me so angry. Of course once the anger has subsided, the hurt kicks in which is infinitely worse. Betrayal is an ugly thing and something that one does not get over lightly, if at all.