Brené Brown on Trust: BRAVING Your Way Forward

What does Brené Brown’s BRAVING acronym stand for? Why is trusting yourself essential for good relationships?

Building trust is a key way to staying true to yourself. Trusting yourself as well as others helps you express your true self and avoid lashing out at others.

Let’s explore this concept by diving into an acronym coined by Brené Brown on trust BRAVING.

Build Trust With Yourself

To understand what building trust looks like in practice, we’ll explain each of these elements using an acronym by Brené Brown for trust: BRAVING.

Boundaries: When you trust yourself, you know when to draw the line at physical and emotional safety during a disagreement. When you trust other people’s boundaries, you know that they’ll do the same. 

Reliability: When you’re reliable, people can trust that you’ll always be honest and won’t pretend to conform for ease. They know that you always show up as your authentic self. People should also be able to trust that you’re reliable because you don’t present them with false dichotomies. 

Accountability: If you’re trustworthy, you take accountability when you mess up by not being authentic or not engaging in conflict resolution in good faith. In those cases, you show accountability by apologizing and trying again. 

Vault: You keep things confidential when you say you will—even if you’re tempted to connect with people through gossip or shared contempt. 

Integrity: When you have integrity, you always live out your values, even when it’s more challenging than conforming. This is an important part of calling out false dichotomies and being honest with others. 

Nonjudgment: In order for people to trust you with their truth, you have to listen to them without judgment. Likewise, to trust yourself, you have be nonjudgmental toward yourself even when you feel different or “othered.” 

Generosity: When people trust you, they know that when you ask more questions to understand their perspective, you’re assuming generous (good) intentions and you’re approaching the conversation with kindness. 

Examining Brown’s Signature Acronym

Brown first described her acronym BRAVING in her video “The Anatomy of Trust” on Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Sessions. Since then, Brown has included the concept in multiple books, applying the multifaceted definition of trust to different areas of her research, such as leadership, vulnerability, and overcoming shame. For example, in Dare to Lead, she asserts that trust is essential for leaders and organizations, as it allows people to feel comfortable trying new ideas and relying on others. Likewise, in Rising Strong, she presents BRAVING as a helpful tool to recover from emotional setbacks and embrace your authentic self. 

BRAVING seems to be widely applicable, whether in relationships or in a business context, because it encompasses several small behaviors and actions that make it easier to understand how you might improve (or worsen) trust—a concept that can seem nebulous. While other definitions of trust tend to center around reliability and truthfulness, BRAVING includes traits that are less often associated with trust but still affect it. 

For example, you may have a general feeling that you don’t feel comfortable being yourself around someone, and Brown would likely classify this as a trust issue, while others might consider it unrelated to trust. The BRAVING acronym enables you to break down the feeling of discomfort into the other person’s concrete actions that made you distrust them. For instance, the other person might tend to judge you when you’re being honest with them, so you don’t feel like you can be open.  
Brené Brown on Trust: BRAVING Your Way Forward

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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