Brene Brown’s Definition of Trust Will Change Your Relationships

Brene Brown's definition of trust

Brene Brown’s definition of trust is called “braving” which is actually an acronym that gives us the anatomy of trust. If this definition within a definition hasn’t already confused you, read on!

Brown explained “The Anatomy of Trust” in her recent SuperSoul Session. As always, her storytelling is on par. She explained how trust is a lot like a marble jar, which was a discipline and reward system her daughter’s teacher used in the classroom. If the class did positive things, marbles went in the jar and there’s a party when the jar is full. If the class did something negative, then marbles are taken out of the jar.

When her daughter came home from school hurt and afraid to trust again because some friends broke her trust, Brown said to her, “Trust is like a marble jar. You share those hard stories and those hard things that are happening to you with friends who over time you’ve filled up their marble jar. They’ve done thing after thing after thing where you know you can trust this person.”

We often think trust is built by grand gestures at crucial moments in our lives, but trust is typically built with simplicity and small actions.

After looking at the research Brown said, “It’s very clear. Trust is built in very small moments.”

In relationships, we have opportunities to build trust or to betray the trust of another.

“To choose not to connect when the opportunity is there is a moment of betrayal,” she said.

We trust those friends and loved ones whose jars are full. These are the people who have built up a store of trust moments with us.

Now the question is, “What are the marbles?” and “What is trust?”

Brown said Charles Feltman had the “most beautiful definition of trust,” which was “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”

“Feltman says that distrust is what I’ve shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you,” Brown continued.

Basically, “When we trust, we are braving connection with someone. So what is trust?” Brene Brown’s definition of trust gives us the acronym BRAVING, which is the anatomy of trust:

(“There is not trust without boundaries.”)

(“I can only trust you if you do what you say you’ll do” again and again.)

(“I can only trust you if when you make a mistake, you’re willing to own it, apologize for it and make amends. I can only trust you if when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, apologize and make amends.”)

(Keeping a confidence)

(Brown’s definition of integrity: “Choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values not just professing your values.”)

(You and I both can struggle and ask for help)

(“Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions and behaviors. And then check in with me.”)

If we understand Brene Brown’s definition of trust, we can better identify and communicate where we are hurt or in need of more trust. This will help begin a healthful and non-threatening conversation with our partner, friend or family member.

This could alter our relationships because it gives us a common vernacular and understanding of the components of trust. Sometimes we can’t quite put our finger on why we feel off, but this gives us a structure to pin point what isn’t working quite right.

But first we must trust ourselves. “Because if BRAVING relationships with other people is BRAVING connection, self-trust is BRAVING self-love; self-respect, the wildest adventure we’ll ever take in our whole lives.”

Do you trust yourself? Sometimes we’re the hardest person to trust, but that’s where trust starts. Our own marble jar must be full. We can’t give to others what we don’t have, and others can’t give to us what we don’t have.

Brown said, “If you struggle with trust, the thing to examine first is your own marble jar. Because we can’t ask people to give to us something that we do not believe we’re worthy of receiving. And you will know you are worthy of receiving it when you trust yourself above everyone else.”

What if trust is part of my daily walk with God lived out in relationships and various connections, challenges and decisions throughout the day? What do you think of Brene Brown’s definition of trust? Agree or disagree?

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Esther Laurie
Esther Laurie is a staff writer at Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.

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