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Empowerment Blog

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“Losing your marbles” is a phrase used to describe feeling like you’re going crazy or losing your mind. The subject matter of this blog is not about losing your mind, but about the diminishing trust between people. Dr. Brene Brown uses “The Marble Jar” discussion she had with her daughter in her younger years to describe how trust is built within relationships. She explained how trust is a lot like a marble jar, which was a discipline and reward system her daughter’s teacher used in the classroom. If the class did positive things, marbles went in the jar, and there’s a party when the jar is full. If the class did something negative, then marbles are taken out of the jar. “Trust is like a marble jar. You share those hard stories and those hard things that are happening to you with friends who over time you’ve filled up their marble jar. They’ve done thing after thing after thing where you know you can trust this person.” (Brene Brown) Trust is built in the small but significant ways we show up for one another. The challenge is finding balance in these moments, hopefully between well-grounded individuals.

Marbles = Trust

What does it mean to trust someone? According to Charles Feltman,

  • Trust is “choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.”

  • Distrust is “deciding that what is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation (or any situation).”

For me, the challenge of trust lies in distinguishing what actions are connected to being trustworthy. We all have expectations, spoken, and unspoken. What becomes difficult to process is the unspoken expectations, especially since it is the stories we create for our survival that informs our unspoken expectations. Subsequently, what each of us requires will differ, since our survival stories and coping skills are based on our varying experiences. This is why real communication is necessary. The ability to communicate our needs and ask for help that is often readily available is essential for fostering trust. As the saying goes, “closed mouths don’t get fed.” Now there is someone who will say that depending on who the person is; we are just supposed to know. I don’t see it this way. Just recently, those around me made assumptions about what I needed because they thought I was unable to ask for help. My silence seemed to be perplexing. I have a voice, and I know how to use it, so asking for help is not an issue for me. I also am willing and capable of investigating and excavating to figure out where I am deficient and work to close those gaps. Speaking of investigating, I have some questions.

  • Do you need to speak up regarding your needs, or does someone need to figure it out?

  • If you never speak up, is there a timeline for someone to determine what you need before you write them off?

  • Does your struggle with vulnerability and pride translate into someone not caring enough to offer you help?

  • Does your not wanting to ask for help come across as you being strong and not needing help?

  • What are the determining factors for who you deem as trustworthy?

  • When you are in “mad mode” do you look for conspiracy theories regarding who is not for you?

  • What stories do you tell yourself for caution and comfort?

  • Have you learned to identify the triggers that cause your defenses to go up?

  • Is it possible that you are making a mountain out of a molehill?

  • Are you fair in your assumption of others?

These are just some thought-provoking questions for your consideration.

Marbles and Musical Chairs

You will often hear me talk about not everyone is healthy enough to have a front seat in your life. (Susan L. Taylor) As you evolve, you will learn that the front seats may be reserved, but they are not necessarily permanent. The front seats are reserved for the relationships that can handle healthy confrontation and practice real communication. The people that sit up close can see all your imperfections, mistakes, and decisions and not judge your attempts or minimize your performance. These relationships understand that your endeavor to show up every day and be seen as your authentic self is a constant work in progress, and they support your efforts. As you change, and with growth, you will, the people around you may not like or agree with who you are becoming. Anyone in competition with you being you and not complimentary to your process needs to be shifted to the cheap seats. Why? Because those who value who you are, the good, bad, and ugly, have paid the cost of admission to be in proximity to your purpose! People are redeemable, and reconciliation is achievable, but it requires the work of all involved. The people who retain their place in the front seats have not lost their marbles. They are usually the ones we deem trustworthy for the position they hold in our lives.

Gaining and Retaining Marbles

Our constant care and concern for others are how we avoid losing marbles. Furthermore, gaining and retaining marbles is always a two-way street. Once you assign value to a relationship, you must do your part in maintaining it. There is responsibility and accountability for the maintenance of connection for all involved, and everyone benefits when there is a demonstration of mutual respect and trust. If you are in constant need of proof of who people are around you, then the issue may not be with your ability to trust them, but your ability to trust you and your choices.



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