According to Merriam Webster, trust is defined as an, “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something.”

Of all the people you trust; of all the things into which you put your trust, how much of that trust is directed toward yourself?

For example:

  • Do you trust your intuition?
  • Do you trust how you make decisions and choices?
  • Do you trust the advice you give as much, if not more than, the person/s receiving it?
  • Do you trust yourself to change your habits?
  • Do you trust yourself to perform well, especially if you’ve prepared well?
  • Do you trust yourself to bounce back after a mistake or setback?
  • Do you trust your discernment skills?
  • Do you trust yourself to remember that one poor choice does not have to equal a forever poor choice?
  • Do you trust that you are inestimably enough just as you are?

As you reflect on your mental or written answers, do they depend upon the scenario or situation you’re facing? How about the “who” when it comes to the role of others?

Please don’t discount these as woo-woo questions.

Because in writing this series exploring bravery and success, what has become crystal clear to me is the relationship between self-trust and bravery. And I’ve concluded that…

…it’s hard to intentionally practice everyday bravery in the areas of your life where you don’t trust yourself.

I’ll let the psychologists and therapists in our midst speak to whether self-trust is innate or learned, and about how and why our self-trust wanes. But I suspect everyone reading this can recount a time (or several) when you failed at trusting yourself. Or, oops…am I telling on myself?! Am I the only one who has to quiet the voice of self-doubt?

Unlike the question I posed earlier in this series and recently on social media, here’s my question for you today: In life and business, where do you need to be more brave? And, what does this look and feel like?

Whatever your answer, I bet it’ll also require a bit more self-trust. This, to me, is the underrated trait of everyday bravery.

It’s a thin line

During those instances that require in-the-moment bravery, self-doubt doesn’t have a chance to creep into the mix. You’re too busy reacting to the immediacy of the moment.

But, this isn’t true for your everyday moments of bravery where you do have a chance to ruminate before you act.

And while doubt shows up in a variety of obvious and less obvious ways, one of the things that makes it tricky is that self-doubt (or second guessing yourself) isn’t always a bad thing. The key is being able to discern when it is showing up to protect you from danger vs. showing up to limit you.

So as you think about where in your life you need to be more brave, it might help to keep top of mind that self-trust is an invitation to deepen your self-awareness. Something that everyday bravery absolutely requires.

Here are few other things to keep in mind about the intricate dance of bravery and self-trust (or lack thereof):

Confidence

What are you doing to build up your confidence, whether that is with regards to how you make decisions; how you choose between your available options; how you determine what actions to take; or boundaries to draw.

Approval

Whose approval are you seeking and prioritizing – is it that of others, or your own? If it’s of others, what will you do if you don’t get it? Does that mean you won’t pursue the thing that requires more bravery from you?

Mistakes

Wherever you need to be more brave will require you step into the unfamiliar and unknown – that might be in terms of knowledge, skills, creativity, etc. And whenever you step into the unknown you are bound to make mistakes. If you’re a perfectionist (or a recovering one like me), this can be so hard to accept and embrace.

Of course we don’t want a pilot flying a plane to make a mistake, but the story of how pilots course correct as they execute the flight plan helps me to flip the switch and view mistakes as opportunities to course correct. Rather than as hard stops.

Appreciate yourself

Remember the bravery audit I encouraged you to do last time? This is where that kicks in. It’s for those times when you need to remind yourself of how awesome you are! When you need to extend to yourself the kindness you effortlessly offer to others.

When you review your list of the past times when you were brave and dig into what you relied on — perhaps trusting your intuition; trusting your decisions and choices; trusting your actions; trusting your boundaries — you quiet the voice of self-doubt with evidence.

Think like…

Managing the intersection of bravery and self-trust, critical aspects of success in my opinion, requires that you think like an attorney, a scientist, and a lover – combined. Why do I suggest this? Because…

  • An attorney gathers evidence to prove his/her case. When you gather evidence of your past wins, you are reminded that you have what it takes when self-doubt creeps in. (Personally, I keep thank you cards and emails so I can recall, during challenging moments, the times when I’ve had an impact on someone.)
  • A scientist approaches his/her studies and experiments with a healthy detachment so they can operate more as an “observer.” This is helpful when it comes to tracking what they do and whether the outcomes were successful or not – relative to the goal or hypothesis. Co-opting this approach can be beneficial for you, too.
  • A lover (as I mean it, anyway) is someone whom you trust. And I believe it is hard to trust someone you don’t love. So make a list of what you like and love about yourself and review it when you need a pep talk.

Having said all this, the expectation ought not to be that you and I can trust ourselves 100% of the time, all the time. That isn’t reasonable.

But treating bravery and self-trust like you would a muscle is. Use your muscles and they increase; don’t use them and they atrophy. My hypothesis is that if you practice being more intentional with your bravery, then you can create more moments and opportunities to be brave.

In my humble opinion, trust is at the crux of every relationship of significance to you. So, my hope is that that includes a healthy dose of self-trust to be brave at the right time, in the right way.

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

So, here’s to you trusting yourself more, being more brave, living more fully, and experiencing more success as a result. Not for vanity’s sake, but because this combination is a way of owning your greatness!

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