How to Cultivate Self-Trust: Advice from Rising Strong by Brené Brown


rising strongIn my work with clients, one of the most common topics we discuss is how to cultivate self-trust. A couple of weeks ago, Brené Brown published her latest book, Rising Strong. If you’ve been anywhere near the internet at some point over the last couple of years, you’ve probably seen her now-famous TED talk on vulnerability.

Rising Strong is the final book in a trilogy on how to live a whole-hearted life, following on from The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. I won’t go into a synopsis of the book here (I shared more details in my Amazon review) but I highly recommend clearing your diary for this weekend to read all three titles.

One of the topics Brené covers in Rising Strong, and what I want to share with you today, is this topic of trust, namely how to cultivate self-trust and deepen trust in our relationships with others.

First of all, what is trust?

It’s a word we all know and use but what does it mean in tangible terms?

Brené quotes Charles Feltman, author of The Thin Book of Trust, who describes trust as “choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.” Meanwhile, distrust is deciding that “what is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation (or any situation).”

Even though the concept of trust and how to cultivate self-trust can feel a little abstract and nebulous at times, the good news is that there are key elements that influence our levels of trust. In Rising Strong, Brené shares a mnemonic that contains these ingredients, explaining that we can use them as a checklist to gauge trust levels in our relationships with others and with ourselves.

These ingredients are summarised with the (apt) acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G.

How to Cultivate Self-Trust: a 7-step Guide. Click here to read advice on cultivating trust with ourselves and others from Rising Strong by Brené Brown >>> |

B.R.A.V.I.N.G in depth

Boundaries: Boundaries are HUGE. In a nutshell, they help us let the good stuff in and keep the bad stuff out—“stuff” being people, experiences, information, emotional states, and more. This is a meaty topic and something we explore in more depth in the Be Your Own Hero course.

Reliability: Doing what we say we’re going to do, when we say we’re going to do it. Being aware of our strengths and limitations and acting accordingly.

Accountability: Taking ownership for our behaviour, including making amends when we make mistakes

Vault: This is similar to boundaries but important enough to warrant its own category. In Rising Strong, Brené describes this as not sharing experiences that aren’t ours to share. In other words, it’s a combination of refraining from gossip, demonstrating empathy for other people, and not getting sucked into drama-driven situations.

Integrity: When our actions match our words and when we practice our values rather than just profess them. In Rising Strong, Brené also includes “choosing courage over comfort.”

Non-Judgement: Being able to ask for what we need and talk about how we feel without being judged (and vice versa for other people).

Generosity: Extending the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words and actions of others. I borrow the phrase “assuming the best” from Tara Swiger to remind me of this.

How to cultivate self-trust using B.R.A.V.I.N.G

As Brené explains, we can also apply these ingredients to ourselves to get a measure of our self-trust.

B - Did I respect my own boundaries? Was I clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay?R—Was I reliable? Did I do what I said I was going to do?A—Did I hold myself accountable?V—Did I respect the vault and share accordingly?I—Did I act from my integrity?N—Did I ask for what I needed? Was I nonjudgemental about needing help?G—Was I generous towards myself?”

What are your thoughts around how to cultivate self-trust? Leave a comment and share. You can also download your free MP3 of a visualisation for deeper confidence below.

Further reading: 5 things I've learned about trust & on navigating the minefield of advice and boundaries

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