Brené Brown has a very clear message to offer-we are living in a broken world and we need to fix it. But how do you do that when you only care about yourself? The moment I cracked open Daring Greatly I knew Brene knows what she is talking about and who her readers are.
The book talks about a very unusual quality that has been considered as a weakness and part of negative emotions-vulnerability. Brene proposes our perpetual attempt to hide our vulnerability causes us more harm.
This is no denying that with the invention of social media and technologies the world has changed a lot. In a world where we often long for confirmation, safety and certainty projecting oneself as vulnerable is the last thing we want to do. It exposes our fear, our emotional excesses, our longing for connection and engagement and our authenticity. It scares us!
Brene claims accepting vulnerability as friend instead of foe gives us liberation and empowers us to accept the reality and take risk and face uncertainty and walk the hard path. Vulnerability is what helps us to connect, engage and find meaning of life.
Our rejection of vulnerability often stems from our associating it with dark emotions like fear, shame, grief, sadness, and disappointment—emotions that we don’t want to discuss, even when they profoundly affect the way we live, love, work, and even lead. What most of us fail to understand and what took me a decade of research to learn is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave. We want deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.
No doubt our long standing culture of criticism, cynicism, and judging and labeling everything has turned us into a cynic social being that seeks approval and confirmation all the time. This very culture limits our power to make difference and to take initiative and to solve a problem by instigating fear of failure and by feeding shame. We constantly try to keep ourselves safe and to perfect ourselves and fight an uphill battle that never makes us a better human being. But when we accept vulnerability it helps us to be the person who we are and gives us courage to show up ourselves and take initiatives that we are capable to take, no matter how small it is.
Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.
When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may or may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.
Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be—a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family meeting—with courage and a willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgement and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.
This book helps us to become better human being, to become a bit more authentic and courageous and loving and daring. For people who want a meaning out of life, who seek to contribute more, dare to take initiative this book tells us that our ‘”courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen’ and when we accept our vulnerability it becomes easier to bear the burden.
Note: Thanks to Samantha Morshed for editing this piece.