What Does Trust Yourself Mean? A Closer Look at Brene Brown’s Anatomy of Trust

So, what does “trust yourself” mean? Let’s look at this more closely.

I recently visited a friend in La Quinta, CA, and she told me about a podcast that had really impacted her. It was an Oprah Super Soul podcast with Brene Brown called “The Anatomy of Trust.”

I don’t know about you, but I find Brene Brown’s words so clarifying and precise. Her messages hit the right note every time. This podcast was no exception.

In it, she shares an acronym she created for building trust called BRAVING: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Nonjudgement, and Generosity.

Then, she explains how these qualities factor into building trust with someone. She likens building trust to adding marbles to a jar – one marble (or experience) at a time. Later, she states that trust can only be formed with others to the same degree you trust yourself.

So I wanted to take a minute to look at her criteria and see how to cultivate more self-trust:

1. Boundaries: Trust yourself by knowing and being transparent with your boundaries.

“Setting boundaries is making clear what’s okay and what’s not okay and why.” -Brene Brown.

So here’s the question: Are you clear about your boundaries? 

And are you able to express your boundaries with others?

For example, do you check in with yourself to reassess where your boundaries aren’t being tended to? This is a lifelong process for me! And an area where I wish I were an expert. Having clear boundaries would make everything so much easier.

2. Reliability: A foundational baseline for trusting yourself and others.

“You do what you say you’ll do.” – Brene Brown

Ahhhh…. this is a good one!

How reliable are you? When you decide that you will get up every morning to exercise, do you follow through?

Often I find I tend to be more reliable to others than I am to myself. This is something I want to work toward.

For a fresh perspective on this idea, see this story on mothering ourselves.

3. Accountability: Do you check in with yourself often?

“You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.” – Brene Brown

How accountable are you to yourself? Do you quickly recognize when you’ve gone off track and make an effort to get back where you want to be?

I think of accountability as a touchstone. Instead of feeling like I’m aimlessly drifting at sea, I feel accountable. When I do this, I can connect with myself and make amends.

4. Vault: Do you trust yourself with sacred information?

“You don’t share information or experiences that aren’t yours to share.” – Brene Brown.

Do you find that you overshare?

In terms of sharing with others, are you clear on what you feel comfortable sharing and with whom? In an ideal world, you know who you can trust and move through intimate moments with grace and ease, never regretting what you’ve disclosed.

5. Integrity: A secret ingredient to building self-trust.

“Choosing courage over comfort; choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy; practicing your values, not just professing them.” – Brene Brown.

Are you clear about your values? When do you choose courage over comfort? Are there times you can do this more than you currently do?

6. Nonjudgment: Do you judge yourself too much?

“I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.” – Brene Brown.

Can you be honest with yourself about how you truly feel?

When I struggle with this, I like to practice subconscious writing. It’s a great way to give myself space to write down everything I feel without judgment. Sometimes that’s all I need to do to feel better about something I’m feeling.

7. Generosity: How generously do you interpret your thoughts and feelings?

“You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.” – Brene Brown.

Are you kind to yourself? Do you accept and forgive yourself when you’ve made a mistake? Can you see yourself through the lens of innocence?

One way to practice gifting yourself with generosity is writing a love letter to yourself. Seeing yourself as you are and in need of your love and approval may work wonders.


So, what do you think?

Try looking at these qualities again through a neutral lens. Where are you the strongest? Looking at the potential of these characteristics in Brene Brown’s BRAVING, can you find ways to develop and build a stronger sense of self-trust?

This concept reminds me of that famous quote by Diane Von Furstenberg, “The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.”

Trusting ourselves is possibly one of the most important things we can ever do.

For me, my strongest quality here is accountability, and my area needing the most improvement is with boundaries. I can also say that the hardest lessons I’ve learned so far have come from not trusting in myself and being swayed by the thoughts and beliefs of those close to me.

Therefore, I will never stop working on building self-trust. It might take me a lifetime to achieve the level I’d like! But I think it’s going to be worth my efforts :-)

Can you find ways to improve? Let me know in the comments.


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