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How to Build Trust With People You Love



In my time working with couples I have learned a lot about building and rebuilding trust.  So many partners come in times of trouble, after affairs and lies, hoping to make things better.  I am proud of the work I have done with them reconnecting in hard times.

But nothing has taught me more about trust that my own challenges this month.  After sharing my partner's cancer diagnosis with friends and family (and all of you) I have been touched by who and how my community has shown support for us.  And nothing grows trust like showing up authentically and reliably for another in difficult times.  

I am ever grateful for the support of my community during this difficult time.  And for the constant opportunity in my work to share my learning about trust and relationships.  

Based in both my formal learning and my personal experience, here's are the basics of building trust:

1.  Be Impeccable With Your Word

The first key to building trust is to be honest in the first place.  The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz asks us to "be impeccable with your word."  Be careful to speak only in truth to build trust with people you love.

2.  Show Up and Follow Through

Building trust takes tiny investments over time- like deposits in a bank.  When we faced challenges the most impactful support came from folks who just remembered something tough was going on and showed up.  They texted, send cute animal video links, and offered cooking.  They sent cards and hugs.  Tiny, quick actions meant huge investments in relationship trust accounts.

Walking your talk or following through on commitments is one of the simplest ways to build back trust.  When you make a commitment or promise be sure to see it through.  Every time you see things through you build credibility.

3.  Have Boundaries

Clear and consistent boundaries help us know what to expect in relationships.  The more honest we can be about our boundaries and expectations the greater trust will grow in relationships.

4.  Show Empathy

One of the most difficult steps in rebuilding trust is demonstrating empathy.  All too often we jump to defensiveness when we've hurt someone else- instead of connecting with their hurt feelings.  Showing true care for the emotions of the person we've wronged can be a critical salve to the trust wound.  Don't rush past this part of the process.

5.  Apologize

Similarly, we often forget to apologize directly and openly to the person we've hurt.  Most often we've been feeling so bad about hurting someone we've said it 100 times in our heads- but never out loud to our friend.  Don't overlook the importance of a genuine apology.  

Ask yourself where you can focus on building trust in your relationships this week.  Notice how bringing these five paths to trust into focus you strengthen the relationships around you.  

Three Elements of a Successful Gratitude Practice


There are many ways to practice gratitude alone and with others.  Gratitude benefits us most when practiced outwardly in the world. Think of gratitude as an opportunity to give a gift to those you love with no strings attached.

Assess your motive for using gratitude.  Gratitude is best given genuinely, openly, and with clear intention.  Here are a few tips to practice these essential elements of gratitude:


You can't force anything good- as a mentor once told me.  This is especially true of gratitude.  Don’t try to force yourself to feel grateful when you don’t.  When you feel stuck sit with it for a minute until a space for appreciation or admiration opens up.  


Gratitude can be practices solo- in a journal or meditation.  But it is most successful in boosting happiness when shared openly with others.  Challenge yourself to express it out loud and encourage others to share gratitude.  You might be surprised the ripple effects of happiness you create.  

With Clear Intention

Gratitude is best with no strings attached.  It isn't an apology, or an excuse.  When you share gratitude its important the gratitude is pure kindness without attachment to outcome.

Try describing how you feel (such as, I feel “safe,” “appreciated,” “hopeful,” or “excited”), rather than what you think or perceive (i.e. “it makes me ‘feel’ like you actually care,” or “it makes me ‘feel’ like you’re going to be more honest with me).   The latter places an expectation on others and makes it more hard for them to empathize and connect with your experience.

Keep in mind that your objective is to uplift a person, to nurture the relationship space between the two of you, and to foster a more healthy world-view within yourself.

Gratitude is a powerful tool that can deepen connections, provide hope and joy, and invite inner peace.  Keep these three elements in mind in your gratitude practice this week.  


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