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Forging a path of vulnerability and courage in Brené Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly'

This week I was back to stepping out of my comfort zone and I read some non-fiction . Some time in 2020 I came across Brenè’s TED talk on vulnerability and I found it interesting. I have also been listening to her podcast, Unlocking Us and at some point I just knew that I needed to read her book. I wanted to learn more about shame and vulnerability so I purchased a copy early this year. This book dragged me back and forth forcing me to take a step back and take an account of my life and choices. All I can say is it dragged me in a good way.


Author’s Profile

Brené Brown was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, United States of America. She currently lives in Texas with her family. She is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.

In addition to the Unlocking Us podcast, she also hosts the Dare to Lead podcast. Brown has been featured on many platforms such as Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.


My thoughts

This book is divided into seven wholesome chapters. Yes, WHOLESOME! It gives an in-depth detail of what it means to dare greatly. It means that we see that perfection does not exist in this world (regardless of what we have been told), we must dare to show up and allow ourselves the grace to be seen as we are. It also gives the reader an opportunity to look inside our culture of scarcity, the ‘Never Enough’ way of living. Never good enough, never thin enough, never smart enough, never rich enough… Brown’s view is that the feeling of scarcity flourishes in shameprone cultures that are deeply steeped in comparison and fractured by disengagement. If this isn’t the truth!

It was quite helpful that the book also debunked vulnerability myths such as; ‘vulnerability is a weakness,’ ‘I don’t do vulnerability,’ ‘vulnerability is letting it all hang out,’ and ‘ we can go it alone.’ Shame forces us to stay in the terraces, not to try new things and let our thoughts/dreams die while we are alive. Sometimes we are our harshest critics and this book has taught me that I can’t go the journey alone, when the self doubt kicks, most of the times it wins and it all dies there. After watching Brown’s Ted talk I wrote down starting this blog as one of my many dare greatly things that I wanted to do. I was scared and thought to myself are my thoughts worthy? It wasn’t until I started to talk about it to my friends and partner that I found some courage to do it. Six months later, this blog was born.

Can I tell you that, it’s only after reading this book that I now realize that there are differences in the terms which we use interchangeably; embarrassment, humiliation, guilt and shame. You’ll need to read this book to find out how it’s more than semantics! Brown says shame resistance is not possible and what is possible is resilience. I am building up on that by recognizing shame and understanding it’s triggers, practicing critical awareness, reaching out and speaking shame. The common vulnerability shields are foreboding joy, perfectionism, numbing, viking or victim, letting it all hang out, floodlighting, smash and grab, serpenting, cynicism, criticism, cool and cruelty. For each of these, Brené gives suggestions on how to dare greatly against these shields, forming healthy ways of dealing with our challenges.

We are encouraged to dare to rehumanize education and work, as disruptive engagement. I like this book because it also has a chapter titled, ‘ Wholehearted Parenting: Daring To Be The Adults We Want Our Children To Be’ because listen socialization is a real thing. Most of our shame stems from our childhood and what better way to stop that cycle than by daring to be the adults we want our children, nephews, nieces and the young ones to be. I now understand shame and vulnerability not only in relation to myself but to others and my connections with them.

I wanted to highlight the whole book and had to exercise great restraint. Here are some quotations from the book;

1. ‘We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing and impressing.’ page 41.

2. ‘Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not over sharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them.’ page 45

3. ‘…it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands. The people who love me and will be there regardless of the outcome are within arm’s reach.’ page 56

4. ‘Shame derives it’s power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists – it’s so easy to keep us quiet.’ page 67

5. ‘And shaming someone we love around vulnerability is the most serious of all security breaches. Even if we apologize, we’ve done serious damage because we’ve demonstrated our willingness to use sacred information as a weapon.’ page 105

‘Daring Greatly’ will be on my bedside for a long time because it’s immensely relevant to me and I am glad that I got it. You just have to read it too or watch the Ted talk! Brown also interviews Glennon Doyle in one of her Unlocking Us episodes, you can read my review of Glennon Doyle’s book, ‘Untamed’ here. There is a lot of unlearning and learning to do. I am encouraged to be courageous even when there are no guarantees.


Book Details

Title: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Author: Brené Brown

Genre: Self-help

Pages: 304

Publisher: Penguin Life; 1st edition (2015)

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Other titles by author:


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