Is vulnerability the same as weakness? "In our culture," teaches Dr. Brené Brown, "we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love." On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise―that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
"The Power of Vulnerability is a very personal project for me," Brené explains. "This is the first place that all of my work comes together. This audio course draws from all three of my books―it’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned over the past 12 years. I'm very excited to weave it all into a truly comprehensive form that shows what these findings and insights can mean in our lives."
For the past 21 years of my life, I’ve never read a book about mental health before. I did not intend to focus on mental health but I felt like there was no better time to focus on it then in the midst of Covid-19 and the civil unrest in the black community due to police brutality and systemic racism.
There are too many mental health disparities in the black community that is not being addressed. The levels of anxiety and depression continue to rise in the black communities disproportionately to those of other races. So when my therapist recommended “The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage” by Brené Brown to me, I found new tools to empower my community, my family, and myself.
For over two decades, Brené Brown interviewed hundreds of people from all different backgrounds about vulnerability. In her discussion of vulnerability, she talks about the commonality among human beings when it comes to being vulnerable.
A compilation of stories, warm humor, and genuine insightfulness for living courageous, authentically, and compassionately is told in six hours which you can listen to on audible.
The book mentions 10 guideposts for living wholeheartedly and I want to share the top five that resonate the most with me.
Top Five Guideposts
1. Practice gratitude even in moments when you’re afraid your joy will be taken away
I’ve struggled over the years to accept that I deserve to be happy with where I am right now. I’ve always tried twice as hard to be half as good as others. Call it the overachiever in me but I always was thinking ahead to what I could do to improve myself. But it was never enough and even when I did find those little moments of happiness I couldn’t enjoy them because I was afraid they wouldn’t last. But Dr. Brené Brown’s insight allowed me to let go of the need for certainty and have the patience and faith to find comfort in uncertainty.
2. Choose discomfort over resentment
One thing that really took me some time to figure out is that I am where I am now because of the choices I made. I wanted to blame the pandemic for ruining my dreams and aspirations but the truth was I was doing that all by myself. When you stop treating yourself with kindness and compassion and bottle up your feelings resentment is bound to occur. Everyone struggles to achieve their dreams but the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is a matter of believing in yourself. Cliche I know, but I can honestly tell you that it’s the truth. I had to stop waiting for the future to change my present and let go of perfectionism. There is no perfect moment in time for you to achieve your goals. When you can find comfort in the discomfort of life you can live a life without boundaries.
3. White space is super important
A key ingredient to self-love and compassion is white space. White space is defined by Dr. Brené Brown as the time to yourself to sit in silence and listen to your needs. It’s a time of stillness and reflection. It can be a time to relax and practice mindfulness or meditation. White space is about letting go of comparing ourselves to others. You have to start by putting it into practice. I find this space in prayer, yoga, my gratitude jar, and even in using my coloring books.
4. Do not use productivity as a measurement for self-worth
I’ve always thought that I had to work twice as hard to be half as good as others around me. The overachiever in me has helped me accomplish many things in my life but it can also be dangerous. I had to learn to stop comparing myself to others and stop using productivity as a means to measure my worth. I spent way too much of my time and energy putting a value on the outcome of things instead of valuing the process. I was so burnt out from working and classes and managing an organization in college, to the point where my eyes were literally bleeding for overexertion. I learned that exhaustion should never be a status symbol. When you lose sight of the value that lies in cultivating rest and play, then you lose sight of yourself.
5. You are responsible for the energy that you bring into the room
Regardless of what is happening in the environment around you, the only person in control of your thoughts and feelings is you. Dr. Brené Brown mentions how anxiety is contagious meaning that it can not exist in individuals for very long. I realized that my anxiety would be triggered when I would get into an overwhelming situation and my first instinct is to run. I begin to under function to avoid responsibilities, conversations, emotions. But then I realized that you have to let people who truly care about you in. You have to let go of the anxiety and fear that is weighing you down so you can live wholeheartedly.
For more information about how you can listen to this book, go to audible.com
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