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Book Review -- Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

June 25, 2013

Last week I was sitting outside a coffee shop reading a book on my kindle when a youngish guy walked by carrying a coffee and a computer, looking for a place to sit. Since all of the tables were occupied and he was looking a bit displaced, I offered him a seat at my table. Relieved, he sat down and expressed his gratitude. I promptly went back to my reading but I could feel his eyes boring into me as I anticipated the dreaded question.
“What are you reading?” he finally blurted.
Now I know this is neither a profound nor earth-shattering inquiry but there were two problems at hand here. One, I’m terrible at summarizing books. Just awful. (Which you’re about to discover.) There’s just something about the vast amount of information that I’m pressured to wrap into one or two sentences that completely overwhelms and paralyzes me. And two, I was reading a book about shame and vulnerability. Which ironically, I was ashamed to admit for fear of being vulnerable. Clearly, I had just started reading the book. Part of me was tempted to lie to youngish guy by replying, "oh, it’s just some silly novel." But then it occurred to me how shameful it would be to lie about reading a book about shame and vulnerability instead of just being vulnerable. Besides, as I’m sure it’s obvious—I could use the practice.
“I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. It’s about shame and vulnerability and how shame can truly only dissipate by allowing yourself to be vulnerable”, I quickly blurted.
Allowing myself to be vulnerable led Patrick and I into a conversation for the next hour. Patrick, if you’re reading this, c’était une joie pour vous rencontrer. (If this is wrong I blame Google translate.) This moment of unabashed vulnerability with Patrick was the beginning of a major shift in my life. And I have Daring Greatly to thank for that.* I’ve always been one to be honest and open but Brene Brown’s writing in Daring Greatly takes openness to another level. She reinforces what I’ve known all along but been afraid of admitting—that vulnerability leads to happiness. Or as Brown calls it, “wholeheartedness”. And I, and maybe you too, could damn well use some wholeheartedness in my life. We’re living in a culture of ‘never enough’. I’m certainly feeling it. Are you? I never work hard enough, I don’t help others enough, I’m not successful enough, I don’t eat healthy enough… and on and on. These thoughts of ‘never enough’ turn into feelings of shame and fear. How do we combat shame and fear? By being vulnerable and expressing gratitude, according to Brené Brown. And now, according to me. Following Brene’s advice and expertise garnered through her research and life stories, truly does work. It was the reading of Daring Greatly that prompted me to finally divulge my long kept secret of my history with an eating disorder; which wound up being my highest trafficked blog post of all time. As Brown explains, we’re drawn to other’s vulnerability but repelled by our own. Are you living with shame? Do you always feel an underlying itch of ‘never enough’? Do you find yourself disconnecting from people you love? If any of these questions ring true then I hope you’ll read this book for yourself. Even if they don’t ring true, read this book. It truly is a game changer.

Buy It Right. This. Minute.  Sit your butt down for an hour, and start reading. I promise you won’t want to stop. I promise.Then come back to me and practice your newfound vulnerability. I’ll appreciate and love every drop of the real you. And eventually, you will too. That’s the truth.

  *If you’ll note the vulnerability here in that I’m attempting to review a book, despite my fear of reviewing books.      

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