This was the first book I’ve read by Bréne Brown and I am very intrigued with her work now. She is incredibly intelligent and really makes you think about concepts in a different way. At least that’s how I felt reading this book.
This book had lots of great information and here are a few key points that I really enjoyed:
A fundamental point that Bréne Brown makes in the introduction is how humans are wired for connection. Feeling connected to others is fundamental to our well-being along with belonging and love. In order for true connection we have to allow for ourselves to really be seen, to be vulnerable. “People who have a strong sense of love and belonging, believe that they are worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.” Bréne Brown goes on to describe these people as being ‘wholehearted.’
Scarcity and Armour
In the beginning of the novel Bréne Brown discusses the idea of our society constantly thinking we’re in scarcity, that there’s not enough. This is depicted in the news, in magazines and even in how we feel about ourselves. We’re never perfect enough, never relevant enough, never good enough, never loved enough, never extraordinary enough. We begin to think that leading a normal life becomes synonymous for meaningless.
Bréne Brown begins to explain how we deal with the idea of scarcity by putting on personal armour, “… we go out and kick some ass and stay safe, not showing our true selves.” We armour ourselves to avoid being hurt. One of the main issues with this is that we armour up to go out in the world and often when we get home we’re so tired that we don’t even both to take the armour off, often leaving it on for our loved ones.
In order to love, feel belonging, be innovative, trust and be creative you must first be vulnerable. An interesting point that Bréne Brown made was how people want to trust others first before they want to be vulnerable but the opposite is what actually happens.
Guilt and Shame
A major differentiation was made as to the difference between guilt and shame and the importance of never shaming another person. Guilt is a feeling of disappointment upon reflection of an action or behaviour that you have done – I did something bad. For example, “I can’t believe that I snorted when I laughed today.” Here the focus is on the behaviour itself. Shame is the fear of disconnection and a feeling of disappointment on you as a person – I am bad. For example, “I am the dumbest person on earth. I never do anything right.” This comment focuses on the person entirely and not on any particular action or behaviour. Furthermore, having feelings of shame can lead to addictions of all kinds.
Empathy and Sympathy
What is empathy? Empathy – is perspective, is staying out of judgment, is recognising emotion in others and communicating that, feeling with people.
Empathy fuels connection and sympathy drives it away. If you tell someone a story and they respond with sympathy, “that sounds terrible, I’m sorry to hear that.” Comparatively empathy, “Oh my gosh, I know exactly how you feel because this one time…” When someone empathises with you they make the connection between you stronger. You feel like they understand and are not on their pedestal judging you. Often you don’t even need to have the answer, ‘I don’t even know what to say right now except that I’m so glad you told me’, can be just what we need to hear.
Bréne Brown explains, “we worry about saying the right thing and being helpful – sometimes a hand on a hand is just what you need…followed by two simple powerful words. Me too.”
Conclusion and a Video
I thoroughly enjoyed Bréne Browns book, The Power of Vulnerability. I’m actually reading it a second time to pick up on a few more tidbits. There are so many great takeaways with her research and science to back it. This book is definitely worth reading if you haven’t already.
I have also included the link to her famous TedxTalk that is on the same topic as the book. It doesn’t include all of the content from the book but it’s a great snipit. Enjoy!