I’ll admit, I am a little bit contrarian by nature. If something is popular, trendy, and “hyped up,” I usually resist it. This may be why I don’t have a Facebook account, I refuse to love sushi, I haven’t read the Harry Potter series, I don’t watch American Idol or The Voice, (and I may or may not watch the Bachelor on occasion with my wife).
So, naturally, when all of my colleagues were raving about Brene Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, I was just, plain, not interested: “Mike, you need to read her book.” “Mike, you need to watch her Ted Talk on Shame and Vulnerability.” It was like being told I need to try sushi for the millionth time. “I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I Am!”
Until, during my lunch break, in a moment of weakness (and a little bit of boredom), I decided to watch Brene Brown’s Ted Talk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability.” … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … Wow! I pulled out my notebook and started frantically writing down everything she was saying like Ralphie’s secret Ovaltine message from a Christmas Story (and it didn’t disappoint!). Then, I listened to her next Ted Talk on “Listening to Shame” and was just as blown away! It was the most enjoyable lunch break I have had that didn’t involve heading over to the golf course.
I started recommending the Ted Talks to everyone I ran into, more passionately than Sam I Am. My sister, who I had recommended the Ted Talks to, bought me Brene Brown’s most recent book, Daring Greatly for my birthday, knowing I was a little bit passionate about it. Needless to say, I loved it.
I think the reason I have loved Brene Brown’s concepts is that she has given a vocabulary to what I see on a daily basis: shame. I see youth come into the therapy office with their head in their hands because they think that they are broken. I see people shed tear after tear because they feel like they are not good enough or they are not worthy of happiness. I see parents question their own worth when their children are making poor decisions.
I am honored to hear story after story of clients sharing their most vulnerable information. Coming into therapy is an extremely risky, fragile, vulnerable state. However, there is no shame in it! We have an odd society that sends the message that we need to stop bullying, stop being so critical, and need to be accepting. Yet, at the same time, there is a message that if you seek out help you are broken and that there is something wrong with you.
One of the more common comments I hear at the end of an initial intake session is “this isn’t as awful as I thought it would be.” Or, “it feels good to share this with someone.” Therapy isn’t always a walk in the park, but it is often therapeutic!
I want to share the quote that inspired Brene Brown to write her most recent book. Then I will attach the links to the Ted Talks that I referred to. I still have no plans to get a Facebook account, to get sushi this weekend, or to pick up the Harry Potter books. But, I genuinely hope this can be helpful. You could watch them in a boat, you could watch them with a fox, you could watch them in a box, with a mouse, or in a house!
THE MAN IN THE ARENA
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”
delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
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