Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
By: Brene Brown

We tend to define things by what they are not. 

In our culture we have a scarcity problem where we believe we never have enough e.g. I didn’t get enough sleep, I don’t have enough time, enough money, etc.  We think about it constantly. 

What adds to the scarcity problem is that we compare our lives, marriages, families, to unattainable media driven visions of perfection.

3 components of the scarcity problem:

  1. Shame- Fear of ridicule, self worth tied to achievement, a need for perfection.
  2. Comparison- Constant comparing and ranking, narrow standards, one standard for measurement.
  3. Disengagement- People are afraid to take risks, it’s easier to stay quiet, feels like no one is paying attention.

Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.  Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.

The crux of the vulnerability struggle:

  1. I want to experience your vulnerability, but don’t want to be vulnerable.
  2. Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy with me.
  3. I’m drawn to your vulnerability, but repelled by mine.

Being vulnerable is mutual and an integral part of building trust.

Trust is a product of vulnerability that grows over time and requires rework, attention, and full engagement.

We can’t be vulnerable and courageous on our own.  Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support.

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

Embracing our vulnerability builds shame resilience.

When our self-worth isn’t on the line we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts.

The secret killer to innovation is shame.

Shame loves perfectionists.  If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak it, we cut it off at the knees. 

Shame resilience is the ability to say, “This hurts.  This is disappointing; maybe even devastating, but success and recognition and approval are not values that drive me.  My value is courage.”

Shame 1 – 2 – 3’s:

  1. We all have it, and shame is one of the most primitive emotions.
  2. We’re all afraid to talk about it.
  3. The less we talk about it the more control it has over our lives.

Shame categories:  appearance/body image, money and work, motherhood/fatherhood, family, parenting, mental/physical health, addiction, sex, aging, religion, surviving trauma, being stereotyped or labeled.

Shame is real pain, and an intensely painful experience.  Physical pain and social rejection hurt in the same way. 

The difference between shame and guilt is that guilt says, “I did something wrong.”  Shame says, “I am bad.”

Guilt is just as powerful as shame, but its influence is positive, while shame is destructive.

Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying. 

When we feel shame we feel disconnected and desperate for worthiness.

4 elements of shame resistance:

  1. Recognize shame and understand it’s triggers
  2. Practice critical awareness
  3. Reaching out and connecting with others
  4. Speaking shame by talking about how you feel

Empathy is connection; it’s a ladder out of the shame hole.  Empathy is connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing.

Shame thrives on keeping secrets.  Research shows that not discussing a traumatic event or confiding in someone can be more damaging than the event.

The top shame factor for women is appearance with motherhood a close second. 

The top shame factor for men is not to be perceived as weak.

We have to be able to talk about how we feel, what we need, what we desire, and we have to be able to listen with an open heart and mind.

Shame expectations:  If women want to play by these false expectations they need to be sweet, thin and pretty, stay quiet, be perfect moms and wives, and not own their power.  For men they need to stop feeling, start earning, put everyone in their place, and climb their way to the top or die trying.

Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, and the first thing I look for in you.

Believing that we are “enough” is the way out.  It gives us permission to take off the mask and say, “I am enough and I have enough.”  It’s showing up, taking risks, and letting myself be seen.

Vulnerability shields:

  1. Foreboding Joy- Joy leaves us feeling vulnerable so we rehearse tragedy to push away vulnerability.  Practicing gratitude is the antidote to foreboding joy.  Be grateful for what you have and don’t squander joy.  Joy comes to us in ordinary moments.  We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down extraordinary.
  2. Perfectionism- It fuels the thought that if you can look perfect and do everything perfectly, you can avoid/minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.  Perfection is an unattainable goal.  Appreciating the cracks is the antidote to perfectionism.  Perfection is the enemy of done.
  3. Numbing- The most powerful need for numbing comes from shame, anxiety, and disconnection.  Being constantly busy is a numbing strategy as well as addiction.  Setting boundaries, finding comfort, and cultivating spirit are the antidotes to numbing.  It’s not what you do, but why you do it that makes a difference.

Shame breeds fear.  It crushes our tolerance for vulnerability thereby killing engagement, innovation, creativity, productivity, and trust.

4 ways to build shame free organizations:

  1. Cultivate shame resilient cultures that have honest and constructive conversations.
  2. Facilitate efforts to see where shame might be functioning.
  3. Help people be aware of shame and what to expect.
  4. Train the team on the differences between shame and guilt, and teach them to give and receive feedback in a way to foster growth.

A daring greatly culture is one of honest, constructive, and engaging feedback.

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