Author Brene Brown
Brene Brown has been studying the topics of shame and vulnerability for over a decade and has brought an amazing amount of information and experience to the topics. Her speeches are great she’s written 3 New Yok Times Best Sellers and she shares her own stories of wrestling with the topics that we all come up against in a societal culture of “Never Enough.”
In my opinion, one of the vital sections of this book is near the beginning chapters two and three. Titled, Debunking the Vulnerability Myths, Brene present’s stories of both genders and how the vulnerability has come to be perceived as weakness in different ways. People go to great lengths to hide their real emotion especially surrounding fear or embarrassment. Women have a different set of vulnerability scenarios than men but both genders work tirelessly to hide their real selves and the sad part is, vulnerability is what makes us connects as human beings. Brene says that when we stuff our emotions and hide them from the world around us they morph and come out as scary things like addiction, aggression, depression, anxiety, insecurity and so on. The evidence of this is that we are the most medicated, overweight and addicted cohort in human history.
As you begin to understand vulnerability you have to also understand shame, which is what keeps us from being vulnerable. Shame says you are inadequate or unlovable. Shame is a statement about who you are as a messed up worthless person, but that is the greatest lie ever. Amazing people all over the world are held back by shame when the truth is we are enough, we are loveable with all our flaws, and we all have the ability to have great impact within our circles. Shame is where perfectionism, harsh criticism, gossip, back biting and many other undesirable traits come from.
“When shame becomes a management style, engagement dies. When failure is not an option we can forget about learning, creativity, and innovation.”
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”
“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.”
Brene offers many strategies to help combat and overcome shame, which is an ongoing process and conscious battle. The more conscious we become the better we can combat shame and share vulnerability.
The book is packed with ways in which we connect with one another which is what Brene found in her research is the essence of the human experience. Experience together the highs, lows, fun, sadness, discomfort, comfort, love, heartbreak, etc…
After laying out many reasons for combating shame and cultivating vulnerability Brene talks to those who dare try by saying if you jump in the arena and dare greatly, “you’re going to get kicked around.”
“If we are the kind of people who don’t do vulnerability, there’s nothing that makes us feel more threatened and more incited to attack and shame people than to see someone daring greatly. Someone else daring provides an uncomfortable mirror that reflects back our own fears about showing up, creating and letting ourselves be seen. That’s why we come out swinging. When we see cruelty, vulnerability is likely to be the driver.”
“When we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety net below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism.”
I apologize for this review being made up of so many quotes but Brene has done such a fabulous job of laying out the principles discussed that I feel like I would detract from them by attempting to rephrase. Towards the end of the book she discusses some parenting topics, one of which is the idea that we cannot help our children love themselves more than we love ourselves or give our children things we do not possess ourselves. If you don’t want your daughter to have body image problems you must overcome your own. This is a scary thought in many ways because it causes the reader to reflect on all his/her inadequacies which could quickly turn to shame. Remember it’s ok to fall short and you’ll be able to overcome those shortcomings much more quickly if you can properly name and address them.
This is a must read for those who have great dreams and goals but feel held back by their fears and shortcomings. We are capable of more that we think and we are better than we often think. Sometimes it just takes a little understanding and courage to get us off the ground. It’s my experience that as you begin to dare greatly and expose some of the things you’ve hidden with fear for many years, you’ll find that most people don’t care at all, a few will criticize and many will feel deep gratitude for sharing your story and having the courage to live a life of vulnerability.