I received the book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown as a gift from my boss the other day. When given a “self-help” book one doesn’t really know how to take it. Does he think I need to see someone and doesn’t know how to come out and say it or what? I have one friend who states she can’t be friends with people who read “self-help”, considering she is one of my best friends, she’s screwed, because we are friends for life and I like to buy self-help, even if they just sit on my shelf gathering dust.
Fortunately for me, I know my boss well enough to know that his intentions weren’t subliminal. He only reads non-fiction/self-help type books and has a long list of said books that have changed his life, so this was purely a gift from his recent trip abroad. Me on the other hand, I have a long list of fictional stories and characters that have changed my life, which could be the reason for some of my issues that I need to address. Repeat after me, fictional characters are not real… As for self-help books, I sometimes struggle to get through them as they can put me to sleep faster than a sleeping pill. However, this book is different and I think, no I feel, like it really might change my way of thinking, and in turn change my life. I’m only on page 68, so that’s quite a bold statement to make, but so far it’s so good.
What I have gathered from Daring Greatly is that we need to open ourselves up and stop being afraid to be vulnerable and to accept shame. We all have shame. What is shame you ask and I was dying to know? She says, “Shame is the fear of disconnection – it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection.” And by not letting ourselves be vulnerable to fail, we think we are keeping ourselves from shame, when in turn we are keeping ourselves from experiencing all that life has to offer.
In one of the studies she mentions in the book, she asked a group of people to finish the sentence: “Vulnerability is __________.” Some of her responses were, “standing up for myself”, “asking for help”, “saying no”, “initiating sex with my wife”, “initiating sex with my husband”, “falling in love”, “trying something new”, “exercising in public”, etc. The one that hit home with me the most was, getting pregnant after three miscarriages. I actually started crying when I read that one. It made me realise how vulnerable I am right now, in this very moment. As much as I smile and tell everyone I feel great, that the baby is so busy, and how excited I am, I am also so freaking scared of these next few weeks and something going wrong. I am so scared of being in Joburg and going into labour, of the baby not surviving birth, of me not surviving birth, and the list goes on and on, and on. But the reality is that the only thing I can do right now is to dare greatly. I have to accept my vulnerability and face all 75 days left of this pregnancy with hope and faith in God’s plans for us.
I am only realising it now, but I think the vulnerability of bloggers or anyone on social media for that matter, is what I love the most about the internet. By posting any art, blog, status update or ‘gasp’ a selfie, you are putting yourself out there for others to see and most probably judge you by and that is very brave, that’s daring greatly. Should we care so much about how many likes we get or page views, no, we probably shouldn’t. But, we should applaud ourselves for having the courage to open up and share our emotions with others.
The next chapter in the book is Understanding and Combating Shame and I am really looking forward to it as I for one know I feel shame for things I have done or failed to do.
Lastly, realising that it is okay to be vulnerable has already helped me be a bit braver when facing the world. I submitted a short story for a magazine competition last week. Thank you, Mia for your encouragement. Even if I don’t win a prize, the rush I got from a) finishing a fictional story for the first time since college and b) actually submitting my work for a competition was enough of a prize for me. Also, over the last two years I have really struggled with writing blog posts as I felt ashamed for sharing too much of the emotional pain I was experiencing, but now, I hope to put the shame behind me and accept my feelings and get back to sharing more frequently here on Blairadise.
If you have read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead or any of Brené Brown’s books or watched her TED videos, I’d love to hear about your experience. Is there a self-help book that changed your life? I love to hear about that too.
*Daring Greatly pictures were found on Pinterest.