5 Brene Brown Lessons to Find Strength in Vulnerability

Brene Brown is a vulnerability researcher and the author of several books on the same subject. Her Ted Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top viewed Ted Talks of all time.

She has dedicated her life to understanding the most vulnerable core that lies inside each human being. She has discovered that vulnerability is a powerful human emotion that is the birthplace of innovation and creativity.

Here are Brene Brown’s five lessons on how to find strength in vulnerability.

The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.”  – Brene Brown

1. Vulnerability Is an Act of Courage

Everyone feels vulnerable. For most people, their most vulnerable times lead to the most creative or important periods in their lives. It’s just how the dusk comes before the dawn.

People wrongly believe that strong people aren’t vulnerable or they don’t feel vulnerable emotions such as fear, guilt, or shame.

The strongest people in this world actually have gone through the most soul-breaking circumstances. They face rejection at an early age and it propels them towards their dreams.

Brene Brown

2. Belonging Starts with Self-Acceptance

People generally want others to accept them, they want to fit in. When you’re vulnerable, never try to fit in, instead accept your shortcomings because they make you human.

Fitting in blocks your ability to actually belong because you have to wear a mask to be liked. When you gauge what others want to see in you and become that person, you are disowning yourself.

Let yourself be seen for who you really are, with all your flaws – big nose, fear of public speaking, a knack for cracking bad jokes – whatever it is, the right people will come when you accept yourself first.

3. Show Up Even When There Are No Guarantees

If you want to do something worthwhile, you have to show up even when it seems scary. According to Brene Brown, the only guarantee you have when you show up is that you will face criticism and failure. But you have to let go of all that for the sake of personal growth.

After all, courage is developed by acting even when you feel afraid. You can never eliminate fear, you can only work with it. There are many things you can do to step out of your comfort zone, take baby steps, take advice from mentors, visualize, and so on. But you have got to show up!

4. Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection

“Perfectionism is not about achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame.” – Brene Brown

Perfectionists often received praise for their grades and manners growing up. Accomplishing is not bad in itself. The emotion tied to accomplishment, the meaning we give it, determines how healthy it is for us.

Excellence says, “I want to accomplish this because it’s an important goal”. Perfectionism says, “I am my accomplishments so I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t achieve it”.

Brown calls perfectionism the “20-ton shield”. It robs people of opportunities and leads to depression, anxiety, and addictions because people get too scared to put anything out in the world.

5. Explore Your Emotions, Don’t Numb Them

When we face difficult emotions, the natural tendency is to step away from them, numb them, or channel them in unhealthy ways through perfectionism or foreboding joy.

Brene Brown says that the right thing to do is to explore your emotions. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” “What do I need to know?” “What is the source of this emotion?” Gauge how strong your emotions are. Remember, feel your emotions to learn about them, don’t think how you’re feeling.

If you’re feeling vulnerable, share your feelings to someone who you deeply trust. If you can’t tell anyone, write them down. Research has shown that writing down about your tough feelings can help you use them to your advantage.

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