I had the pleasure of interviewing Brené Brown for the May/June issue of Origin magazine and I was incredibly moved by her message, humor, and extreme authenticity. Here's a bold statement: I believe that Brené Brown represents the future of humanity and of human consciousness. The more we embrace vulnerability - allowing ourselves to feel pain, sorrow, grief, fear, self-doubt, and a whole host of "risky" emotional states - the more we begin to fully accept who we are. Out of vulnerability, we develop self-compassion, and out of that compassion for others. Now, it's not like this is a new teaching. Pema Chödrön (and before her Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche) often talks about "leaning in" to emotional pain as a way of unblocking feelings of defensiveness or contraction that ensue from these often rejected or unexplored states. Personally, this is the only kind of "leaning in" that I want to practice:
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” ― Pema Chödrön from When Things Fall Apart
The less we "hold back," the more authentic we become, and that is a true freedom!
But by calling the experience of these difficult emotions "vulnerability," Brené has somehow made them more accessible. The word vulnerability is in and of itself, well.....vulnerable. It's soft, yielding, and - to me - familiar. In practicing vulnerability, I feel more than just "unstuck".... I feel a deep connection with the people around me, I feel love. My experience is that through vulnerability, I feel brave because I love and accept myself, and I want others to feel free to be themselves too.
Brené and Pema are two amazing women that are changing the world with their teachings of self-acceptance through personal challenges. They are both moms, and they are both funny as hell. But while Pema is a Buddhist nun who has done decades of meditation practice, wears robes, and lives in an abbey in Nova Scotia, Brené is a researcher from Texas - by contrast, an ordinary citizen. Brené shows us that maybe, just maybe, us regular folk can also take risks, show weakness, and come out braver and more resilient as a result.
Brené Brown on vulnerability
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. To be human is to be in vulnerability.”
“Vulnerability is the cornerstone of confidence.”
Brené Brown on courage
“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.”
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Brené Brown on shame
“Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.”
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
“Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy.”
Brené Brown on authenticity
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief”
“Belonging starts with self-acceptance. [...] Believing that you're enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic.”