Daring Greatly Brene’ Brown
I’ve never read anything by Brene’ Brown before and with all the excitement over her new book now seemed like a good time to dive into her work. Some good friends in The Young Clergy Women Project suggested I start with this book, so I did. I knew I would like this book as soon as I read, “Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering” (8). In my ministry I’ve been saying this for years in slightly different terms. We were created to be in relationship. Ministry is all about relationships. Church is all about relationships.
A number of words and phrases reappear through the book that describe how Brene’ encourages people to live. One of these words is wholehearted. “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness” (10). Wholehearted living is the point of one of her earlier books, The Gift of Imperfection. And wholehearted living is exactly how we should live as beloved children of God. God loves us. I don’t use the word worthy very often in my ministry. She uses it to describe that we are enough. Instead of berating ourselves and what we can’t do, we need to focus on living wholeheartedly as those who are enough just as we were created.
Another topic that she addresses in this book is scarcity. We live in a world where there seems to be never enough. Time is scarce. Money is scarce. Safety is scarce. I’ve tried to replace scarcity with abundance as one who celebrates all that God has done for each of us. She has a different take. She sees scarcity and abundance as two sides of the same coin. She wants us to start saying enough. We have enough. We are enough. I’m still deciding how I feel about moving from abundance to enough. I think I’m going to hold onto my visions of God’s abundance while also reminding myself that I have enough.
This book is all about vulnerability which she defines as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (34). Too often we shield our vulnerability. These are the three most common methods used for shielding our vulnerability and how ways to open ourselves up to vulnerability. Foreboding joy (117-122) is when we cannot enjoy a happy moment because we are afraid something bad will happen. Practicing gratitude (123-127) can help you avoid foreboding joy. Instead of struggling toward perfectionism (128-130), we should appreciate the beauty of cracks (131-137). We numb ourselves to avoid being vulnerable. Instead of numbing (137-141), we should set boundaries, find true comfort, and cultivate spirit (142-151).
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to think more about relationships. With all of the information about shame, blame, guilt, vulnerability, wholehearted living, this is a book to help you examine your life, how you are living, and what you can change. This book is not hard to read. It is a book that sticks with you and makes you think. So be prepared to think and wonder and ponder and want to change your words and actions as a result of this book. If you are up for a challenge in your own life, give this book a read.
“Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them” (45).
I say we were created to be in relationship. She says, “We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging (two expressions of connection), is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives” (48).
“If the opposite of scarcity is enough, then practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there’s enough and we’re enough” (124).
On pages 174-175, she shares a top ten list of questions to ask about the culture of an organization, family, or group. I think this is a list that would be so helpful when starting a relationship with a new organization, starting a new job, or trying to get to the real problem within a group.
- What behaviors are rewarded? Punished?
- Where and how are people actually spending their resources (time, money, attention)?
- What rules and expectations are followed, enforced, and ignored?
- Do people feel safe and supported talking about how they feel and asking for what they need?
- What are the sacred cows? Who is most likely to tip them? Who stands the cows back up?
- What stories are legend and what values do they convey?
- What happens when someone fails, disappoints, or makes a mistake?
- How is vulnerability (uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure) perceived?
- How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they showing up?
- What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a high premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?” (174-175).