#906 Brené Brown lightens our loads

Brené Brown delivering TED talk on vulnerability

Brené Brown delivering TED talk on vulnerability; photo clip from video

With less than 100 postings to go to reach my goal of 1001 hope-FULL reasons for optimism, I’m going through the thousands (literally) of possibilities in my files and trying to decide which simply must be included. That is not an easy task, especially since I add more reasons to the files every day.

Today I want to say thanks to Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Her ability to speak from the heart about vulnerability, courage, empathy, shame and authenticity have catapulted her into the limelight.

Like many people, I learned of her through her TED talks on The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame. Her vulnerability talk has been viewed more than 12.5 million times. In it she says her research on the difference between those who have a strong sense of worthiness and those who do not boiled down to one thing:

And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.

What they had in common was…the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly….

They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.

Her talk on shame (with over 3 million views) could be encapsulated in the quote she gives from Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who sits and points out how the doer of deeds could have done things better and how he falls and stumbles. The credit goes to the man in the arena whose face is marred with dust and blood and sweat. But when he’s in the arena, at best he wins, and at worst he loses, but when he fails, when he loses, he does so daring greatly.

You can watch more of her videos and read what people have said about her by following the press links on her Web site. If you already know her work, the links in this post will remind you of some of your favourite Brené Brown moments. If she is new to you, prepare for a feast.

Dealing with vulnerability and shame are part of our birthright as humans on the planet. They fill our backpacks with heavy stones, and we have no choice but to carry them through our lives. But when we connect with others, when we accept our own and others’ imperfections, the stones become lighter.

No one can carry our backpack for us, but people like Brené Brown help us replace the stones that drag us down with those that help us live what she calls “whole-heartedly”. She gives me hope.

Katy Davis animated an excerpt of Brown’s talk on The Power of Vulnerability in this excerpt, The Power of Empathy.


You can follow Brene Brown on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. Subscribe to her site for such beautiful gifts as her Daring Interview Series and learn more about the people who inspire her, e.g., Kal Barteski and Elizabeth Gilbert.


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