Tag Archives: authentic

The Paradox of Reliability

What Is It?

Reliability is a value that works both internally and externally, outwardly it might look like: ‘Reliable cars that save you time and money on repairs, Reliable mail that gets delivered on time, vendors who show up on time and of course reliable friends and colleagues who do what they say’. .- extract from 8 ways to become the most realiable person un the room. 

Reliability– You do what you say you are going to do… deliver on commitments.”- Brene Brown

Being reliable because you are getting something in return is one thing, whether that’s money or the warmth and connection of friendship. But when there is no person or system checking up on ourselves, be that a boss or fitness tracker. But being reliable to your inner needs is something else harder to pin down. 

We are wired to survive, to live and overcome, to succeed, to have lives of meaning and connection. If that is lacking, if our actual inner needs are not being met, we do the next best thing to survive, the ultimate psychological life hack. 

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Jennifer Louden calls this life hack shadow comforts. Which are activities that allow us to numb what’s really going on for us, they help us keep up appearances. What we need to do is sit amongst the light and dark of our lives and own it, acknowledge it and learn from it. 

In contrast, real comforts are never numbing, they are always loving and always something that nurtures you. Just like when a child is picked up when they are crying and held safely in their carer or parents arms until they are ok. 

As I became aware of my shadow comforts and understood how they were just a quick fix and the comfort they offered was short-lived and for me had unintended negative consequences. 

I wanted to change, I saw shadow comforts to be used in emergency only activity, so for example, if I am tired and overworked, stressed and when I am working from emotional scarcity, I will have chocolate and coffee to keep me going or play on the Xbox or go shopping. I would avoid actually meeting my real needs. I used to live on that diet and still easily slip into old habits. The result of that diet over the years is that it left me broke, spiritually, emotionally, relationally.

Through reading on this idea of reliability in particular as a group of attributes that build trust from Brene’s work, I find that not building trust with myself utterly undermines, over time, the trust built externally! 

What Can We Do? 

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Reconnect with ourselves, find somewhere quiet and safe, where you can begin that work of reconnection and self-nurture.

Whether we are, a doctor, a waiter, a methodist minister, or man, women, gay, straight, nonbinary, husband, wife, we all are swirling ball of emotions, spiritual connection, of light and dark, joy and failure, of vulnerability, and of hope, and that part deserves and ultimately demands proper attention, 

I find my personhood is rooted in a God who says I am fearfully and wonderfully made, loved and lovable, imperfect and ok. When choosing the shadow comforts I know, that what I am communicating to myself, is a need to be nurtured, comforted and loved in a cherished and compassionate way. 

As infants we have all existed in a state when we couldn’t make sense of the world around us, where you and I didn’t have a clue what up and down was. All of us discovered what felt ok, and not ok. 

Real comfort is like what makes that infant feel loved, it is something that is experienced and felt. True comfort is known not as just one word or action, but a rainbow of connections that nurturer that inner person in all of us every single day.

previous post was Brave Boundaries all connecting into the work of Dr Brene Bown on trust-building. 

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