Thursday, July 16, 2015

daring greatly, book study 3/5

Today I'm continuing the conversation of Daring Greatly. This week, I read Chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armory. Last time we talked about shame and this week we're talking about the masks we wear to make us feel stronger when shame creeps up. The masks make us the person we think our society, our peers, our family might want. But wearing them for too long will make us lose our authentic selves! The masks are heavy!

The three common vulnerability masks are:

  1. Foreboding Joy
  2. Perfectionism
  3. Numbing
I'm going to tell you a little bit about them, and also share Brené's anecdote to each, so you can practice a more joyful, grateful, and connected life.

Foreboding Joy
Ever think that things are just too good? That you're waiting for the other shoe to drop? And in these instances, do you think about ways that the outcomes could come out bad or disastrous? Meet foreboding joy.

It takes vulnerability to really enjoy life. In her research, the participants stated they were most vulnerable:
  • standing over my children while they're sleeping.
  • acknowledging how much I love my husband/wife/partner/significant other
  • loving my job
  • being happy
  • falling in love
Have you ever been in any of those situations or others (listed on page 119) and thought something terrible might happen? If so, you've used this mask.

The anecdote to all this is practicing gratitude. Realizing that you have amazing things in your life and appreciating them. We need to understand that joy comes in ordinary moments, (and we need to live in those moments!),  be grateful for all that we do have, and learn to not squander joy when it's around us. Push those tragedies you're rehearsing out of your head and appreciate the moment we're living.

Here's a little excerpt about what perfectionism isn't:
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move. It's the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it's the thing that's really preventing us from being seen. (p.128-129)
Here's her definition:
Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame. (p.130)
The anecdote? Appreciating the beauty of cracks. We're not perfect. Is anyone? I love how she talks about when we want to hide our flaws and mistakes, we're hustling a little bit, "the hustle for worthiness." But the thing is, we are all worthy of a connected, loving life. Flaws and all.

To get here, we need to move from What will people think? to I am enough. We need to be kinder and gentler with ourselves and others. Honestly, this is how I get blog posts one of her research participants says on page 135, "Perfection is the enemy of done." #AmIRight?

You might think this section is not for you, but it is. Brené reminds us that "Americans today are more debt-ridden, obese, medicated, and addicte that we have have been." You might numb with sugar or wine or shopping or even on facebook. You can try and numb feeling vulnerable, but there's a problem with that plan, because when you numb one emotion, you numb them all. So no joy and happiness when you're numb. Just nothing.

We numb because of anxiety, disconnection, and shame.
Ever come home to a bottle of red wine after a stressful day?
Ever surf the internet or channels to numb the feelings you have about the conversation you should be having with your significant other?
Ever go shopping to make yourself feel better because you think you're not ____ enough?

But rejoice, readers! The anecdote to shame is setting boundaries, finding true comfort, and cultivating spirit. I really identified with setting boundaries - people who do this change the behaviors that lead to anxiety rather than finding ways to deal with anxiety. So that extra class that I'm thinking about teaching... I'm really considering all the stress it brings and asking myself if it's really worth it. That's setting boundaries. Knowing that I will get stressed if I have meetings every day after work won't work for me, so I decide what is absolutely most important and only commit to those things.

Wrapping Up
This is turning into a really long post, so I'll let you read up on the other anecdotes and also, check out the end of chapter four for other masks people wear to shield themselves from feeling vulnerable. I just want to leave you with one powerful quote from this chapter:
It's as simple and complicated as this: If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging. (p. 145)
This is all about your belief in your worthiness. People who believe they are worthy for a loving, connected life will make that life happen for themselves by appreciating the life they have, setting boundaries and feeding their spirit. They'll realize that one mistake (or 20) do not define them. They will tell themselves on good days and bad ones, I am enough.

What do you think, readers? If you've read the book or not, anything here surprising? If I'm being honest, the perfectionism one surprised me lots!

Next week we're sharing about chapters 5 and 6 - hope you'll stop by! If you want to check out my introductory post on this book, you can find that here.

Get the details for this challenge here!


  1. So I only have about 50 more pages in this chapter to go! Why, oh why, are they SO long?! But I like it better already and skimming through your post, I see some things I like/love. I love that we can practice gratitude. Have you finished a day by making a gratitude list? It helps take out of my selfish attitudes and reminds me that all the things in my life are gifts.... I'm grateful for AC when it is 100 degrees and humid. But when I'm wallowing in my own schtuff I have a hard time seeing the good. I'll be adding my reflections later in the weekend and as you've seen, the last chapter find its way into most of my posts this week. Thanks for this challenge Michelle!

    1. *found, not find. I really can speak/write!


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