Growing the trust factor

Yesterday, I began my recent writing on small groups and transformational community with the  foundational element of the Trust Factor. Much of what I am learning currently is emerging through weekly facilitating Spiritual Integration Classes at myc yoga, here in Bend, OR, and through some extremely good reading (Parker J. Palmer – A Hidden Wholeness).

I closed out the last post urging us, as leaders and inviters into community, to begin to pay attention to the Trust Factor. As we begin paying attention and rejoicing at every hurdle of trust that others in our community climb over, we are well on our way to facilitating groups and building community that support transformation authenticity. Hand in hand with paying attention is our ability to invite others into space that nurtures the Trust Factor. There are a few things that I seek to remember at all times (but often forget) when it comes to holding space for trust:

  • Any movement towards more trust is worthy of celebration and support. If someone feels supported, chances are they are not going to move in the direction of less trust.
  • At the same time, causing damage to someone’s willingness to trust is like two (or ten) steps backwards after one step forward. People who have repeatedly taken the risk of trusting and been hurt, are in need of great care. There are many, many things that kill trust.
  • Eye contact and smiles help immensely
  • I try to envision what it would look like for me to embrace the other without actually giving them hug. My eyes, my smile, my posture, my tone of voice… all of my being is here to embrace and welcome you!
  • Envision an open space of comfort and love expanding between the two of you. Breath the other into that space, deeply and calmly. I must NOT fill it with my “self” and my needs.
  • In regards to breath… our breath, as clear and free and deep as it can be, and our posture, as relaxed and open and strong as it can be, invite others into that space with us. This is not something we learn at school. Crossing arms, slouching, looking out the window (the clock, our phone, etc), breathing shallowly, wearing sunglasses… all these things do not help.
  • As hard as it is, we must avoid “leading questions…” those being questions that seek to make a point or get someone to consider something we think would be “more appropriate” for them to consider.
  • We must be able to be alone ourselves. As Henri Nouwen writes in Reaching Out, “As long as we are lonely, we cannot be hospitable because as lonely people we cannot create free space. Our own need to still our inner cravings of loneliness makes us cling to others instead of creating space for them.” Spending time in solitude and silence allow us to truly be an safe host, without an agenda to carry out or needs that we demand the other to meet.

There are a lot more things… I think that the best place to start is considering myself in their shoes. We can open others in trust with our own bodies. Breath, posture, eye contact. This is absolutely essential to consider. Oh yah, and SLOW DOWN. Silence pauses are ok! We must be okay with the open space between us… not filling it with our insecurities.

One thought on “Growing the trust factor

  1. Nate, you do such good work.

    We are constantly reminded that change requires a safe and trusting environment. Personally, I am in favor of hugs! However I understand not everyone is and I admire your intent to share the same warmth and positive regard without the physical contact.

    I also like the image you speak of when you talk about creating space. I have been fascinated lately with the idea of creating space not for my own efforts but so that Grace can enter in. My own efforts are often small and inadequate so I better hope/trust/have faith that God will work in my relationships and I need to leave room for that to happen!

    Sometimes I think that it is more about accompaniment than fixing or “helping.” I believe healing does not come of me or any counselor’s best efforts but of the Holy Spirit. The question then is how can I invite that and be accessible to that transformation. Part of that is knowing that it will go both ways, in any relationship I and the other will be changed.

    Sometimes all I can do is stay present to the process, refuse to withdraw and trust that it will be OK, that God will work through and in us.


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