In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown explains the reasons why we are afraid of being vulnerable, the different ways we protect ourselves from vulnerability, and how to become more vulnerable in our society.
Daring Greatly means being vulnerable, being engaged, being exposed and avoiding being perfect.
A Narcissistic Society
Many researchers have shown that the American culture has turned into a narcissistic influenced culture, a culture of scarcity, a culture where people put themselves first, think that they are special, are always connected to social media, go after money and power, chase beauty and other vanity, compare themselves, are disengaged and concerned with the idea of lacking.
Instead of putting sown narcissistic people and showing them that they are not special, it is better to seek understanding and find the root of the problem.
Being narcissistic stems from a feeling of not being enough and of being ordinary.
Vulnerability & The Feeling Of Not Being Enough
The feeling of not being enough brings about shame and stops us from being vulnerable. Shame is a universal emotion, is corrosive, “keeps us small, resentful and afraid”.
Furthermore, we become disengaged when we are too afraid to be vulnerable, when we are ashamed, when we lack purpose, when a social contract is not met.
It is critical to speak out on your shame, to be self-aware, to know your self-worth, to ask and receive feedback because knowing your worth will help you become more vulnerable.
To eradicate the feeling of shame:
- Identify your shame triggers.
- Observe your self talk.
- Practice authenticity.
- Accept your experiences.
- Share your experience, be vulnerable with someone who genuinely cares about you.
Common Misconceptions About Vulnerability
We are thought not to be vulnerable, not to show our emotions, to look down on those who do. There are several misconceptions when it comes to vulnerability.
Misconception #1: “Vulnerability is weakness”
The reality is vulnerability is not a weakness, is not good or bad. Vulnerable is the origin of all emotions.
It therefore becomes important to acknowledge your vulnerability.
Besides, the people who think that they are impenetrable are in fact the most vulnerable.
Misconception #2: “I don’t do vulnerability”
Vulnerability is unavoidable. When we try to avoid it, we often exhibit unusual inconsistent behaviors.
Misconception #3: Vulnerability is letting it all hang out”
You cannot be vulnerable with everyone. It is important to build trust and boundaries before being vulnerable.
Otherwise, more times than ever, you will end up getting betrayed and hurt.
Misconception #4: “We can go it alone”
Individualism and going it alone are highly regarded in American culture.
In this case, it is essential to construct a support system, to ask for and receive help
Shame As A Management Tool
Most of the time, shame and the blame game are used as management tool, yet is ineffective.
Subsequently, the situations that we face on a daily basis, in the education system, in the workplace, force us to keep our head down and our mouth shut which doesn’t encourage innovation, creativity or the learning process.
Vulnerability & Protective Mechanism
Our protective mechanisms are survival strategies, used to shield our vulnerability. Those shields can go from foreboding joy, to perfectionism to numbing down your emotions.
To avoid shielding vulnerability, it is critical to:
- Practice gratitude.
- Appreciate your strengths and weaknesses.
- Confront your emotions.
- Live a more fulfilling life and feed your spirit.
- Focus your time and energy on the essentials.
- Consider how your behavior affect those around you.
Shield #1: Victim mentality
Some people go through life with a victim or perpetrator, win or lose mentally and subsequently fall into one of these categories.
Surprisingly, the people who have been through the most trauma, demonstrate the most resilience. And, people who don’t feel like victims or perpetrators, see themselves as thrivers.
Shield #2: “Floodlighting”
Floodlighting is essentially oversharing and stems from a need for confirmation and validation.
We have to be careful not to share vulnerable stories too soon with people who have not earned the right to hear them.
The people on the receiving end often shut down, lack empathy or feel disconnected.
Shield #3: “The smash and grab”
With this shield, some people use vulnerability as a manipulation, sensationalizing tactic that is common in celebrity culture, as an attention seeking tool.
Shield #4: “Serpentining”
Serpentining is a draining and an avoidance behavior.
It happens when people are not facing a situation head on for fear of being vulnerable, of not being present.
Shield #5: Mean-spiritedness
In this case, people use criticism, cynicism and mean-spiritedness to protect themselves.
They are mean to people who dare demonstrate vulnerability.
Daring Greatly is essential to leadership, parenting, relationships, finding your purpose and your passion.
Through Daring Greatly, Brown has gathered data from people from different walks of life so we can somewhat self diagnose and become more aware of some of our toxic behavior.
For example, she is vulnerable with us, mindful of the stories to share, lets us into her conversations with her therapist.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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.
Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.
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.
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.
Much of the beauty of light owes its existence to the dark. The most powerful moments of our lives happen when we string together the small flickers of light created by courage, compassion, and connection and see them shine in the darkness of our struggles.