Circles of Trust
Dear Awesome Woman,
Welcome to Love-Yourself-More Monday 🙂 So glad that you are here.
One thing that I wish that I had known as a child was to create circles of trust. I first heard of this concept from life coach Martha Beck. If you draw a dot in the center of a page which represents you and then draw widening circles around the dot, those are your circles of trust. You decide who is close and who is far. The closer to the center dot (you), the more trusting and loving (vulnerable) you are with them because they are safe in holding your heart. Some people you may move around the circles—bringing them closer or moving them further away depending on their behavior and situations. Some you may make leave entirely.
I was blessed with a few wonderful friendships growing up, but there were others that I experienced that were not so wonderful (and had some of those in college years and beyond). This knowledge that I’m sharing with you now would have saved me a lot of anguish. I actually wrote a children’s book (not yet published) based on this concept because I believe it is so important that people understand the concept of discerning relationships and trust from a young age.
The most important thing is that we always get to choose who are in our circles of trust.
You get to discern the ‘who’ and the ‘where’ based on your body’s wisdom and your mind’s wisdom. With using the body, you pay attention to your emotions. Emotions are ‘energy in motion’ and are in your body as sensations.
For example, if someone has been nice to you for a while, whether a friend, a co-worker, a boss, a romantic partner, and then gets critical, cynical or hot/cold, then your mind might be confused, but your body won’t be. Your mind may try to ignore, justify and/or rationalize their behavior. It may say “Huh, that was weird. But they’ve always been nice so maybe they’re having a bad day. I’ll judge them positively.” It’s okay to judge positively, but not to ignore the behavior. It just may happen again. Your body knows the score. It will feel an aversion to the person. Your stomach may sink, your torso may want to turn away and run. Good to notice and pay attention to!
Tread carefully with moving forward in these relationships. You may need to move the person to an outer circle—not as close and not as privy to your thoughts and to your vulnerability. Not as close to your heart.
Remember that it is a good thing to take relationships slowly—that goes for co-worker relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships. People have so many different sides to them and it’s much easier to bring people into your inner circles rather than push people from inner circles to outer ones. People get hurt and confused and not all decisions can be explained. Honesty with others is not always the best policy. But self-care is.
Here are a set of relationship-oriented principles that I call BRAKES based off of Brene Brown’s BRAVING principles. Ask yourself these questions when you’re discerning how comfortable you feel with the person you are interacting with, including where to put them on your circles—remember that you are empowered to make “discerning choices of connection” with all your relationships.
***And just an important note: If you find that your spouse falls short on these principles, and you feel like throwing them off the edge of your circles, just know that marriage patterns can be changed. Miracles can and do happen! I call it “Marriage Magic.” Please reach out if you need a guiding hand.
- BOUNDARIES—Do they honor your boundaries? What happens when you say ‘no’ to them? Are you afraid to say ‘no’ because when you have said ‘no’, they get mean and nasty, overly hurt, threatening, manipulative or have a temper tantrum claiming that you don’t like them? Some people use “emotional blackmail” to try to get what they want. They will call you selfish, greedy, cold, rigid and other nasty things in order to make you feel really bad about saying “no.” Please watch out for this kind of labelling of your character. Not only are they “put downs”, but they are also manipulative lies in order for the other person to get you to do what they want. In your body, it is felt as pressure, discomfort and shame.
- RESPONSIBILITY—How responsible and reliable are they? Do they follow through and do what they say they’ll do? Or are they like a chicken with their head cut off, committing themselves to a whole lot of stuff that they can’t possibly do and then backing out at the last minute? That could leave you really feeling resentful because there has been a boundary violation—your energy and time has not been respected. How self-aware are they about what they can do and can’t do?
- ACCOUNTABILITY—How do they show up when it comes to taking accountability? Have you experienced them owning up to their mistakes? Do they apologize and make changes? Some people are great at apologizing, but then do not follow through with making changes. If this is unsatisfactory to you, then take note and make changes yourself. Don’t be a victim and then blame them. As Maya Angelou so wisely says “When people show you who they are, believe them.” It is so important to open our eyes to what people are showing us about themselves.
- KEEPERS—How are they with keeping what you share with them private? If you share something with them, do you feel confident that they won’t share it with others, including their spouses, siblings, children, parents? Or maybe you’re okay that they share it with their spouse and family members ? It depends on what the two of you decide. Also, how are they with keeping other people’s confidences? Do they share things with you about other people that may have been meant to be private? If they talk behind others’ backs—meaning if they share with you a lot of stuff from others—then they just may share with others a lot of stuff about you. It’s important in regards to feeling emotionally safe in a relationship to know that what you do share is kept confidential and that your vulnerability is honored.
- ENERGY EXCHANGE—What is the energy exchange between the two of you? Are you a priority for them? Are you a low priority for them? Either is fine as long as you know where you stand so that you’re not constantly getting hurt from false expectations.
- SYNC—Are they in sync with your values and their own values? Do you respect them? Do they make choices in line with your values? Do they even make choices that are in sync with their own values or do they just talk about them? Actions speak louder than words. Pick people who are in sync with your values and ones who are in sync with their own values.
BRAKES is not only great for deciding where to put people on your circles, but also in managing your expectations of others. If you know that someone is not great in the Vault area, you’re going to be careful what you share about yourself with them.
If they have a weakness in the RESPONSIBILITY area—they say that they’ll be somewhere at a certain time and they never are, then know that. If you want to meet them for a lunch date, figure out how to do it without expecting them to be on time. Choose when you’ll show up and what you’ll do if they’re late. Or better yet, speak to them about how you feel when they show up late repeatedly. You can tell them that it feels disrespectful to your time and energy, and that it damages the trust you have in the relationship. Take note of how they respond and then decide where you want them on your circles.
Life is always changing and so are relationships with people. There is a flow and when we allow the wisdom of our body to guide us as well as our mind, we can make safer choices. Teach about the circles to children so they learn these skills early-on. They’ll grow up to be pros with their circles of discerning trust of others. They’ll grow up to be resilient and wise, keeping themselves safe and healthy in an ever-changing world.
The ROAR! Process is an effective Mindbody technique to release stuck energy, get healthier and tap into inner wisdom for both adults and children. It’s a technique I use with my clients to free themselves from the harmful effects of built up anger, resentment, trauma, grief and disempowerment. I’m excited to announce that I’ve made it available for purchase here: The ROAR! Process eguide.
Need a hand? I invite you to schedule your Free Clarity Call today. As a Somatic Healer and Clarity Coach, I help empower women to trust themselves through the wisdom of their body and intuition. Marriage wellness, narcissist relationship detox, career clarity, money receptivity and emotional/physical pain relief is accomplished through an integrated somatic process over the phone. Discover your clear path to empowerment and joy now.