I started the year off with reading ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brené Brown. It had been a high priority on my reading list for a while after it was recommended a few time on the ‘Being Boss’ podcast. A slightly different type of book for me to read, as it’s not a business book as such, but talks about vulnerability, what it is and how it affects our lives.
One day when in the car, I mentioned to my husband that I had started this fascinating book about vulnerability and how to overcome it. His first comment was ‘but your not a vulnerable person, why are you interested in this?’. I think this is the first misconception people have about vulnerability, we are all vulnerable at different times, but how we cope and overcome vulnerability is key. We can embrace vulnerability and become stronger, or be overcome by vulnerability and be fearful.
Vulnerability is weakness.
This is a really misconception of vulnerability, and what Brené Brown explains so clearly, after over a decade of research, is the other side of vulnerability that we often don’t acknowledge.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path”.
Here are a few examples of what vulnerability can be for me:
- Vulnerability is starting my own e-course
- Vulnerability is sharing my business failures with others
- Vulnerability is signing up for races and tournaments
- Vulnerability is speaking in public
- Vulnerability is being accountable
These are all things I want to achieve in my life, I feel vulnerable and scared at the thought of them. But they are not a weakness and getting over these, embracing being vulnerable, will only lead to courage and joy.
People can respect and admire others vulnerabilities, but often don’t want to be vulnerable or feel inadequacy in themselves.
I often see people doing things I would love to do, speaking in public, running for fun or even uploading Instagram stories. I feel vulnerable with putting myself out there, allowing my guard to come down and opening myself up to criticism. But watching others do these thing, I admire them, look up to them. They have probably felt vulnerable at some point, but have overcome this feeling, they are now doing what they want to do in life, with no restrictions, their vulnerabilities are not holding them back. Overcoming vulnerability is the key to a happier life.
“Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them”.
There are times we are vulnerable but don’t even know it, around friends, family and loved ones, we let down our guard because we trust these people. Goofing around with my sister is something I would never do with anyone else, I would feel silly and vulnerable, or confiding in my husband, things I would never say to anyone else. But I trust these loved ones, this trust grows over time and requires work, attention and full engagement.
We can’t learn to be more vulnerable and courageous on our own. Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support, so when we fail (which we will), we’ll fail together, while daring greatly.
To daring greatly means there will be failures and mistakes and criticism. Shame will be there to say “I told you this was a mistake. I knew you weren’t ________ enough”.
“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”.
When we feel shame, we are more likely to protect ourselves by blaming something or someone or hide out. Rather than apologizing we blame another or don’t answer the phone to avoid feeling the shame. However, if we embrace the moment, apologize, make amends, or change our behavior that doesn’t align with our values, the feeling of shame is changed to guilt. The discomfort of guilt is what motivates meaningful change and is much more positive than shame.
- Practice courage and reach out!
- Talk to myself the way I would talk to someone I really love
- Own the story! – I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.
The ‘Enough Mandate’
- I am enough (worthiness verses shame)
- I’ve had enough (boundaries versus one-uping and comparison)
- Showing up, taking risks, and letting myself be seen is enough (engagement versus disengagement)
- Joy comes to us in moments – don’t miss those moments
- Be grateful for what you have
- Don’t squander joy
“The most valuable and import things in my life came to me when I cultivated the courage to be vulnerable, imperfect and self-compassionate”.
- Find a way to manage and smooth the anxiety
- Change the behaviors that lead to anxiety
Destructive shadow comforts
Shadow comforts can take any form. It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it that makes the difference. What is the intention behind the choices we make? Are our choices harmless and comforting or are they a destructive numbing behaviour that leave me feeling empty?
For example: Scrolling through Instagram, drinking, flicking through tv channels…
“Shame can only rise so far in any system before people disengage to protect themselves, When we’re disengaged, we don’t show up, we don’t contribute, and we stop caring.”
A daring greatly culture is a culture of honest, constructive, and engaged feedback. It’s necessary to take off your armor, show up and engage.
When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity. Entrepreneurship is vulnerable. There is no vision without vulnerability.
Worthiness is about love and belonging. Feeling like you belong means you can be yourself, feel accepted and be where you want to be. Fitting in, is not feeling wanted and having to act like everyone else. Having an environment where you belong (home, school, work…) is an important part of feeling worthy.
Hope happens when:
- We have the ability to set realistic goals
- We are able to figure out how to achieve these goals
- We believe in ourselves
Brené Brown also goes into great detail about vulnerability for parents and how to teach this to our children. Wholehearted parenting is not having it all figured out and passing it down – it’s learning and exploring together.
Daring Greatly was a real eye opener for me, and helped me look at my life and values and see why I am holding myself back. Laying all my emotions and feeling out on the table it way easier to see why I do things, why I don’t take action in some areas of my life and most importantly, how I can improve to acknowledge and face up to my vulnerabilities to live a fuller, happier life. This is a book I will definitely read again in the future.