I have an ongoing fascination with psychology and sociology. You might even say I geek out on them, which comes in handy when you’re a life coach like me.

One of my favorite go-to authors is Brené Brown.  As a shame and vulnerability researcher and educator her work gets to the heart of what troubles us most when we bump up against life’s rough edges.

There’s nothing like a shame spiral to make us dig into a heaping plate of self-doubt. It’s a recipe for serious second-guessing. We can find ourselves ruminating obsessively into the wee hours. At those times we can get stuck on questions like; what did I do wrong? Was I overly defensive?  Was I insensitive? How could I have done better?

This is when we need a powerful, clear and effective way to check-in with ourselves. This ‘BRAVING’ acronym Brené created is a checklist to help us get out of the weeds. It gives us the opportunity to take flight and get a bird’s eye view of our lost perspective – and it helps us find our way back to the light.

The more stressed out you are – the more helpful this guide will be. Just like life, these truths will stretch our edges.  Stretching edges can be uncomfortable, but by doing this we invite introspection, evaluate our core beliefs and ultimately come to understand ourselves well enough to live wholeheartedly.

Approach these BRAVING truths like a meditation. You’ll discover that you’re good at some of them and need help on others. That’s okay. We’re all works in progress.


Boundaries—You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask. You’re willing to say no.

Reliability—You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t overpromise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities.

Accountability—You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.

Vault—You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. I need to know that my confidences are kept, and that you’re not sharing with me any information about other people that should be confidential.

Integrity—You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

Nonjudgment—I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment

Generosity—You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

Self-trust is often a casualty of failure. In many of the interviews about professional and personal failure, the research participant would say, “I don’t know if I can trust myself again” or “I’ve lost faith in my own judgment.” If you reread this checklist and change the pronouns, you’ll see that BRAVING also works as a powerful tool for assessing our level of 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 appropriately?

I— Did I act from my integrity?

N—Did I ask for what I needed? Was I nonjudgmental about needing help?

G—Was I generous toward myself?

*Brown, Brené . Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead . Random House Publishing Group.

Content provided by Women Belong member  Tari Heap