Living a BRAVING Life: Why Honesty is the Best Policy


When I was in 1st grade, I had a childhood best friend who had recently returned from vacation. Unbeknownst to me, my friend’s mom had purchased a little doll as a souvenir for me.

My friend’s brother brought the doll to church and attempted to sell it to me for $5. “It’s a steal!” he declared. He promised he would not tell anyone about selling it to me.

I sat and thought about it for a moment and quickly purchased the doll for $5 and happily went on my way to play with the doll.

After church, my mom asked me, “Jaja, where did you get that doll?” “

“I bought it!” I proudly declared and told her how I bought it.

My mom quickly got on the telephone and called my friend’s mom. After listening in to their phone conversation (as all of us do as kids!), I learned that the doll was meant to be a souvenir gift for me!

The next day, I got my $5 back and my friend’s brother was disciplined as a result of lying and not giving me the doll, as a gift, as he was told to do.

While this story is pretty minor when it comes to how dishonesty can impact our lives, as a therapist, I provide counseling to many individuals and couples to help them navigate life as a result of difficult people in their lives whom have broken their trust. Trust is often broken as a result of dishonesty and lack of follow through on our (or others’) parts. Trust is a crucial element that holds relationships, families, businesses, and even communities together

“Trust is a crucial element that holds relationships, families, businesses, and even communities together.”

In a world in which we need to fact check everything people post or write about on social media, honesty is the best policy – not only for living a life of integrity but to also live the life that so many desire. I believe it’s safe to say that the majority of us want connection, joy, belonging, and intimacy in life! And organizations are constantly striving to build larger consumer and customer bases. In order for this to occur, we need to be BRAVING individuals and organizations.

BRAVING is an acronym that Brené Brown, a social worker and researcher on the topics of shame, authenticity, and vulnerability, created to describe the “anatomy of trust.


Boundaries include what is okay and what is not okay with us. We can set boundaries for others or even ourselves. Boundaries provide structures for people to navigate in.

Reliability is following through with what we said we would do. When we are with those that we have difficulty trusting, we may not know if they will do what they say.

Accountability is saying sorry for our mistakes and seeking to make amends. Accountability is more than an apology; instead, it includes owning our mistakes and moving towards change.

Vault is when we provide trust in the form of keeping confidences. Rather than gossiping or telling everyone about what we heard, holding a vault for ourselves and others includes keeping things to ourselves when it is not the right time or place to share things.

Integrity is living out our values. It is easier to say that we value something as opposed to actually living it out in our lives.

Nonjudgment and Generosity often go hand in hand. We can hold nonjudgmental perspectives towards others but do we do the same for ourselves? Nonjudgment is being able to ask for what we need without fear of judgment.

In addition, holding a generous lens towards others goes hand in hand with boundaries. We can be generous in our perspectives and actions towards others while also holding healthy boundaries. Generosity is believing that others are doing the best that they can and when they are hurtful or unhelpful, we set boundaries in response.

“In today’s world, living a BRAVING life is easier said than done.”

Individuals, families, and even businesses & organizations are challenged to live a BRAVING life in order to build trust in our communities. Trust is a foundation to the connection, intimacy, and belonging that we seek for in our families and communities. The ingredients of trust have been researched and our challenge is to examine how we are doing in living a BRAVING life in our relationships, workplaces, and communities.

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Hi there-I'm Jaja Chen! I'm a private practice therapist by day, Waco Cha co-owner and tea drink developer at night. Waco Cha is our boba tea company. I graduated from Baylor with both a Bachelor & Master of Social Work and eventually went on to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). I specialize in helping women, moms-to-be, moms, entrepreneurs & helping professionals heal from trauma, maternal mental health concerns (particularly birth trauma & postpartum-anxiety), and burnout & secondary trauma. While I am not yet a mom - I am a lover of all things related to women's health, pregnancy & postpartum care! In my spare time, you will find me reading, drinking boba tea, learning about herbal remedies, or practicing yoga. You can read more about Waco Cha on our site and my private practice services at