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Marble Jar Friends

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

I’m the type of person that loves to be open. I love to connect with people deeply and authentically. I love to be real.

I used to think that that meant always saying what’s really going on. If someone asked, “How are you?” and the answer wasn’t, “Fine, great, how are you?” I wouldn’t answer that way. I’d say ‘the truth.’

I used to think that closeness with people required being real and vulnerable.

And the truth is, I do still believe that.

But here’s something else I now know:

People have to earn the right to hear your story - Brene Brown.

Earn the right … earn the right...earn the right… Those words just rolled around my head, bouncing off the walls of my mind.

It was such an -Aha!- moment for me … to realize that my story, my truth, my inner world, is a “right” that other people need to earn.

When we share our most vulnerable selves with others, we also open ourselves up to rejection, shame, being misunderstood, and a whole host of other possible reactions.

And so, I realized, it’s not something to take lightly. To squander to any person you meet.

They have to be worthy.

Which brings up the next question - how do you know someone is worthy of hearing your story?

Here’s a story that Brene Brown tells which answers this perfectly:

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené tells a story about her daughter Ellen who came home from school one day completely distraught, crying uncontrollably. Ellen described that something really hard happened to her at school and she shared it with some close friends at recess. By the time she got back into the classroom, everyone in the class knew what had happened, and was laughing at her, to the point of being so disruptive that the teacher had to take marbles out of the marble jar.

The teacher kept a jar in the classroom and each time the class did something positive a marble went in the jar. Conversely, when the class veered into the land of negatives marbles were removed.

Ellen describes it as one of the worst moments of her life, and said to her mother, “I will never trust anyone again.”

Her mother, Brene, responds, “Trust is like a marble jar. You share those hard things happening to you to friends who have, over time, filled up your marble jar; who you know you can trust and tell difficult things to.”

We can use the idea of the Marble Jar to help define who to trust and to what limits.

Who are your Marble Jar friends? How do marbles go in and out of the Marble Jar for you? How do you determine who to trust?


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