How to Discern Who to Trust

Nancy KalinaIn my last e-newsletter, titled Who’s In Your Corner? Are You?, I wrote about Brené Brown’s idea of marble jar friends. While I touched on this concept last time, I feel it is always helpful to revisit and flush out concepts for my full understanding. Hopefully, this approach is beneficial to you as well. Who’s In Your Corner speaks mostly about the concept of including yourself in your own marble jar of supportive people. However, I would like to circle back to the concept of marble jar friends and discuss the practice of how we discern who in our life has earned the right to hear our story. Deciphering who our marble jar friends are is a great tool to help us determine who we trust and the extent of that trust. This tool can also be amazing when teaching our children about the concept of trust. So, I encourage you to keep it in your back pocket!

Many times, determining who I trust anything with has come down to a feeling in my bones. I just feel that I can trust Kim with anything. However, Dr. Lissa Rankin clearly operationalizes this decision-making process beautifully and far more clearly in her new book, The Anatomy of a Calling: A Doctor’s Journey from the Head to the Heart and a Prescription for Finding Your Life’s Purpose. I am very impressed with Rankin’s questions, which lead to an exercise in discernment rather than judgment that can help us all understand who to surround ourselves with when we make the decision to become our best selves. Therefore, this e-newsletter shares an exercise on how to practice discernment in your own life as you travel your path of personal growth.

The following exercise has been modified from the Medicine for the Soul teleclass series that Rankin teaches with Rachel Naomi Remen. Find out more about this teleclass series at

  1. Ask yourself, "Who are the friends of my Small Self (social self)?" Who feeds your ego but doesn’t help you grow your soul? Who always seems to be judging you? Who are the people who tempt you to complain or gossip? Who feeds your victim story without helping you see another possible perspective? Who criticizes you instead of being gentle and compassionate with you when you vulnerably reveal your growth edges? Who are the narcissists who make it all about them? Who blindly supports you rather than challenging your beliefs? Whose approval are you always seeking? Who makes you feel like you’re not good enough or don’t fit in? Who is jealous of you when good things happen or finds glee in your failures? Who leaves you feeling depleted rather than expanded? Who is always competing with you? Who are the people who always tell you what to do and get mad at you if you don’t follow their advice? Don’t judge these people. Just exercise your discernment muscles and notice.
  2. Ask yourself, "Who are the friends of my Inner Pilot Light (your essential self)?" Consider who cultivates the stillness in you and helps you feel more brave. Who helps you grow? Who challenges your victim stories? Who helps you gently illuminate your blind spots? Who is willing to examine those shadow parts of you without judgment or criticism? Who invites you to be vulnerable without shaming you? Who avoids gossip or unkindness toward others? Who loves you unconditionally while modeling unconditional love of others? Who trusts their own intuition and yours? Who cheers you on when you make brave choices based on following intuition or spiritual guidance? Who lets their own Inner Pilot Light make choices in their lives? Who offers you compassion and gentleness without coddling your Small Self? Who earns your trust and makes you feel safe enough to explore the scary, vulnerable, shadowy parts of yourself? Who lightens your mood and opens your heart? Who celebrates your triumphs without making you feel like their love depends on your triumphs? Who helps you expand your perception of what’s possible and helps you believe in miracles? These are the friends of your Inner Pilot Light (or your essential self).
  3. At certain parts of the hero’s journey, you may need to cocoon yourself with friends of your Inner Pilot Light. This doesn’t mean you end relationships with those who are friends of your Small Self. But it can be helpful to give yourself permission to prioritize time with those who are friends of your Inner Pilot Light. Practice discernment without judgment. When you surround yourself with friends of your Inner Pilot Light, it is easier to let this part of you take the lead in your life. As you progress on your journey, you will find it easier to be with those who are friends of your Small Self. You can hold them with deep compassion, knowing that they are entitled to their own journeys, without letting them influence your individual journey. But until you get to that point, it’s okay to practice discernment and surround yourself with a bubble of true support.

I hope that the words of Rankin and Remen help you as they have me to develop a practice of clarifying who my marble jar friends are and how I can best understand and show compassion toward friends of my social self while still appreciating their significance in my life.


Sharing Corner

I have almost completed The Anatomy of a Calling. This is much more than a memoir. It is a great guide for all of us who wish to follow our individual North Stars into the great unknown.

Due to the fact that Rankin was such an influence on me and how I interacted with my own body during my hip degeneration and hip replacement, I am going to take this time to remind you that my eBook is still for sale! Thanks again to all of you who have already supported me with your kind words and support as I have gone through this process. My eBook should be available on Amazon within the next few weeks!

Click on the image above to purchase the book




Until next time,

Safe Space Life Coaching

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