How does one sufficiently credit a book that completely alters your perspective and gives you freedom in areas you have struggled with for years. Dr Brené Brown, a thought leader of our time, writes on the topic of vulnerability, shame, belonging, perfectionism, courage and the idea of living a wholehearted life in her New York Times best-selling book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is "our most accurate measure of courage."
Starting around Thanksgiving I read this book in bite-sized portions until I finally completed it yesterday, at the end of January. I've given these novel ideas time to twirl a dance in my head and disrupt my perceptions of shame and vulnerability. I have gone back to re-read sections of this book. My husband also read this book on the plane recently and we shared ideas that resonated with us. I've spoken to friends about it and can not stop talking about the lessons I will hold to dearly. The book begins with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt's speech "Citizenship in a Republic." It is also well known as the "Man in the Arena" speech. These words became the source and fuel for Brown's book title.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I have to print that and paste it above my desk or on my mood board on my kitchen door for inspiration on this writing quest.
I've extracted some of the most compelling quotes from the book to share with you, in the hopes that you too will read the book, find inspiration for your journey and allow these concepts to change you.
“When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
The following quote gave me the inspiration to write again, to put myself out there and try new things.
"But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen." -
“You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”
“I think we can all agree that feeling shameis an incredibly painful experience. What we often don't realize is that perpetrating shame is equally as painful, and no one does that with the precision of a partner or a parent. These are the people who know us the best and who bear witness to our vulnerabilities and fears. Thankfully, we can apologize for shaming someone we love, but the truth is that those shaming comments leave marks. And shaming someone we love around vulnerability is the most serious of all security breaches. Even if we apologize, we've done serious damage because we've demonstrated our willingness to use sacred information as a weapon.”
“We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying. Researchers don’t find shame correlated with positive outcomes at all—there are no data to support that shame is a helpful compass for good behavior. In fact, shame is much more likely to be the cause of destructive and hurtful behaviors than it is to be the solution.”
Brown's chapter on "Wholehearted Parenting" resonated with me.
"Shame is so painful for children because it is inextricably linked to the fear of being unlovable. For young children who are still dependent on their parents for survival—for food, shelter, and safety— feeling unlovable is a threat to survival. It's trauma. I'm convinced that the reason most of us revert back to feeling childlike and small when we're in shame is because our brain stores our early shame experiences as trauma, and when it's triggered we return to that place."
Brown quotes Pema Chödron,
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times