Trust—we seem to all struggle with it to an extent. And we all experience a breaking of trust at some point in a relationship. Which is why it’s so important to talk about trust, relational wounds, repairs, and taking informed risks (because let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a risk-free relationship).
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot out there that talks explicitly about how to build and deepen relationships and develop trust. For the most part, we’re left to trial and error, with some of us consistently over-trusting and others struggling to trust at all. Or some who do a combination of both (hello to fellow disorganized attachment people!).
Periodically, when I’m desperately struggling with a relationship and whether it feels safe, I’ll look for a Tarot spread to help me clarify. Unfortunately, I also frequently find that Tarot spreads don’t focus on the issues I’m struggling with either. Usually it’s not about whether the person reciprocates my liking, but whether they’re safe to invest my emotions and time in.
So with all the preamble of “this particular form of self-help doesn’t exist!” of course I’m going to present a solution that I found.
Behold Brene Brown.
In a talk she did for Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions (ugh, I’m sorry, but it’s not as fluffy as it sounds, I promise), Brene breaks down how she has come to view trust and intimacy based on her research and personal experience. She even comes up with a kitschy acronym that hearkens back to her TED Talk to evaluate the health of a budding relationship: BRAVING.
As much as I want to hate the acronym—because acronyms?—I actually find it super useful. So much so that I initially painted a poster of it to hang near my desk so that I could reference it when I needed to.
And then I decided that it needed to be a Tarot spread too!
This is a spread that could be used solo to get clarity on the relationship. I also foresee it being something that two people could do together as a way to prompt discussion about the relationship. The layout is pretty simple, using each letter of BRAVING as a single position in the layout.
So here is the BRAVING TRUST spread.
- 3. 5. 7.
2. 4. 6. 8. (optional)
- The quality of the boundaries in this relationship.
- The nature of the reliability that you can expect as things are.
- The accountability that has been present up to now.
- The extent to which they guard and respect confidences and privacy.
- The values and integrity of the relationship and the people involved.
- The quality of non-judgmental mutuality within the relationship dynamic.
- The ability for generous assumptions to be present when someone makes a mistake.
- Optional: Outcome summary if the relationship continues as it currently is.
Also pay attention to the ways the cards relate to each other. For instance, boundaries aren’t just highlighted in the first position. They’ll often be reflected in other areas as well, especially in positions 4 and 5 as they relate to things that tend to influence boundaries.
More than likely, unless this person is a shit friend, there will be strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. This spread doesn’t tell you what to do with the relationship. What it does do is show you where you may want to work towards improvement or whether you may want to tailor the role that person plays in your life. Of course, some things might be deal-breakers, and this should highlight those areas.
This is not a feel-good spread. Most of the time, we don’t think to evaluate a relationship until we’re feeling tension and confusion around an area of difficulty, so this spread tends to highlight the discomfort within the relationship. However, it’s also important to remember that until the discomfort is revealed, nothing can be done to either distance oneself from the relationship or improve it. Thus, I hope that people will find this a constructive discomfort worth leaning into.