Emotional Health, Wellness

The Anatomy of Trust

Brené Brown, who is a researcher and best selling author whom I greatly admire, recently offered a free course called “The Anatomy of Trust”.  I decided to “take” it (it is online, link at bottom).  I found out some things about myself, and realized I have areas to work on, and areas to pat myself on the back.  But she breaks trust down using this definition, which I find really helpful:

“Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”  (Charles Feltman)

This is important, as we should give our complete trust to people who we feel can honor our vulnerability.  I only have a few friends and a husband who I can say fit all these criteria. And that is true of most people as you look at the acronym and think about who in your life you trust.  Do they meet these criteria? Here is how she breaks it down, using the acronym of BRAVING to define the components of when to trust someone and also to make sure that self trust is present (choose courage over comfort).



She also talks about asking for what you need (see non-judgment above) and it reminded me of a situation earlier this year that I handled better-than-usual.  My mother, who has an unusual form of dementia that has robbed her of most of her vision, needed to move from assisted living to memory care, as she was needing more care than the staff could give her. The room was available and I had no idea if one would become available in the future.  BUT, I had just had a knee replacement and was still using a crutch, and was pretty uncomfortable.  I knew I could not do this alone.   So, I reached out to four friends who I knew wouldn’t judge me, good friends who have caring hearts.  They all readily agreed to help me. I was soooooo relieved.  Moving day came, and they were there right on time.  We moved her, with the help for the heavy stuff, completely in 3½ hours.  I was exhausted and feeling guilty I couldn’t help more.  That is where I need to work on self-trust, and know that I wouldn’t judge a friend in the same situation, yet I judge myself.  So, they did what good friends do.  They yelled at me to “sit down and put your leg up”!  And so I did…

Four hours later my Mom came into her new room, which also had been arranged with new fall decorations by my friends who found them and put them out.  It looked almost identical to her other apartment.  And I would NEVER have been able to do it without help.  The carpenter who was hanging up a few photos/pictures for her looked at me and said “You have the NICEST friends!”  Yep.  I do.  And I know I’d do the same for them in a heartbeat.

I am lucky that I have these friends, who I can be vulnerable and holler “I need help!”  And they come.  No questions asked.  And it felt so good.  It felt right. I trusted myself, which is something that has been hard for me to do in the past.  I wanted to be totally self sufficient, to prove to the world I was competent.  But that robbed me of a wonderful experience:  being nurtured by friends.  I need to practice this more.  Note to self:  DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

Brené says something equally important:  If you judge yourself for asking for help, then you can’t give help to others without also judging them. 

To take Brenés free online course, The Anatomy of Trust, click here.

This entry was posted in: Emotional Health, Wellness


I'm a 18 year breast cancer survivor, RN, certified functional medicine health coach, graphic designer, wife, mother and grandmother. This blog is my story, and the result of a difficult and complicated struggle to regain my health. I hope by sharing my story and what I've learned, I can help others thrive the way I have been able to. Thanks for visiting.


  1. How refreshing and so generous of you to share this. I have the very same problem. I have a terrible time asking for help. Yet I try and help everyone…

    • Yep Jay, I’m a work in progress! But this reinforced for me that the positives WAY outweigh the “I shoulda done it myself” — One of my friends was so taken with my mother that she has since visited her by herself. That gift was unexpected and would never have happened if she hadn’t help me. In addition when I gave them all a cookbook as a thank you, they were all quite surprised and touched. I don’t think they had any idea, and maybe they still don’t, on what their help meant to me. To me it was a way of them saying that I was worth a day of their time, that I was worth helping. And I talked about it at a meeting where they were at afterwards. We all need to help each other more, the fallacy that we can do it all is just that, a fallacy!

Comments are closed.