A few months ago I discovered a woman who made an extraordinary impact on me. Her name is Brené Brown. She is a researcher who has spent the last decade researching shame and vulnerability and how both play a big part in our self-worth. I strongly encourage you to watch her TED Talk to get a feel for what her work is about. After having watched this TED Talk months ago, I decided to put some of her books on hold at the library. After nearly two months, two of the books I had put on hold were finally available.
Actually both books turned out to be audiobooks, which I usually tend to avoid due to terrible narration. Brené Brown narrates both of the audiobooks I listened to. I immediately fell in love with this woman’s storytelling abilities and her cadence. I felt like I was actually in an auditorium listening to her speak. The genuineness of her voice and the passion in her words really captivated me. I listened intently as if I was sitting in on an important lecture.
The two books I listened to were The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection and The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage. Both books are broken up into guide posts (I like to think of them as different branches that make up the whole tree). The Power of Vulnerability talks a lot about the different aspects of shame and vulnerability, and how they are connected with what she calls “wholehearted living”. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting is similar in content but focuses on how to cultivate these ideas in our children, and how we parents need to work on ourselves in order to do so.
There was one message I took away that struck me down to my core. She mentioned how we cannot love others more than we love ourselves. For me, this was what all of her ideas about shame, vulnerability, worthiness, and courage boiled down to. It makes perfect sense. It is one of those things that stares us right in the face but we refuse to see it. We can’t possibly love ourselves when we are bogged down by a sense of worthlessness and are drowning in a pit of shame. Without self-love we won’t have the courage to be vulnerable enough to be ourselves. What more, how do we expect to give love that we don’t have to other people?
If anything, Brené Brown’s work has made me more self-aware. With the strategies and insights offered in these books, I have found that truly living wholeheartedly is possible for anyone.