“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
“Daring Greatly” is an interesting and thought provoking book about vulnerability. Some of the crucial questions the book approaches are: what is vulnerability, why it is important and how to deal with it.
Brené Brown is a college professor at Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Brown is the author of several books. Her research focus on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. She has also one of the most viewed TED talks ever with more then 23 millions of views.
In her book, researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly and courageously.
This book has many qualities going for it. The subject (vulnerability) is a lot more important than I thought before I read it. It is written in a very clear way and its message is based on scientific research. I believe this book can actually be a game-changer for its readers.
Brené Brown defines vulnerability as the capacity to be open to attack when we expose what we feel or think. In one way or another all of us have to deal with our vulnerability or lack of it, whether we like it or not. For example, every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative, or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk and we expose ourselves. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect.
Even though there is a widely accepted myth that connects vulnerability with weakness, Brown argues that vulnerability is in fact a strength, and when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.
According to Brené Brown, connection is the reason why we are here. She writes:
“We are hardwired to connect with others, it´s what gives purposes and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
Vulnerability doesn’t guaranty connection with others. However, the author stresses that without vulnerability connection with others is difficult. And without connection with others happiness is near impossible.
The author identifies several vulnerability “shields”. One of those “shields” is forebonding joy. Due to that we are in a constant state of worrying that something bad will happen. Basically, we take measures not to enjoy life – and the reason for that might be that we believe we don’t deserve joy or think that it will not last.
Other “shield” is perfectionism. Brené Brown defines that we thrive to achieve perfection due to the following thing:
“is, at its core, about trying to earn approval” and prevent “painfull feelings of shame, judgement, and blame.”
The problem is that perfectionism ends up being self-destructive simply because perfection doesn’t exist.
Brené Brown advises us try to be vulnerable and to break the pattern of “keep everyone at a safe distance and always have an exit strategy”. In the following Ted Talk, Brown shares with us how her research, resulted from a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.
She considers that without vulnerability we lose a precious things in life such as love and happiness.
The author advises several strategies to be more vulnerable. Two of them are: practicing gratitude and appreciating the beauty of our personality “cracks” and flaws. She believes that these and other strategies can increase the connection with others.
But Brené Brown agrees that being vulnerable is a risk that we shouldn’t lightly. She also advises people to setting appropriate boundaries and take smart risks. Vulnerability is necessary but not at any cost.
Personally, I confess that is a lot easier to write about vulnerability than to practice it. However, after I read the book I recognize that vulnerability is something that I should cultivate more. Vulnerability is a necessary “game” if we want to connect more with others, learn more about ourselves, and be happier.