Our next blog series on the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown focuses on removing our armor and choosing to be engaged in our lives. We all put on armor to protect ourselves from feeling shame or even from being vulnerable. Armor makes us feel strong and protected – but in reality, over time armor is exhausting to carry. The other problem with armor is that we are so protected that no one gets to see or know our true self.
Dr. Brown discusses the three most common vulnerability shields. The first is foreboding joy. While we are all seeking happiness and joy in our lives, ironically, if we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we approach joy cautiously. People with foreboding joy are thinking of the worst-case scenario, disaster planning, or just waiting for the other shoe to drop. “You sacrifice joy, but you suffer less pain.”
The next vulnerability shield is perfectionism. Unfortunately, however, perfection doesn’t exist and trying to be perfect is self-destructive, addictive, and blame-driven.
The final vulnerability shield is numbing. The universal numbing strategy of “crazy busy” is one we have most likely all used - if we stay busy enough, the truth about all of the ways we are “not enough” won’t come out.
So, what do we do about all of these vulnerability shields? One way to dare greatly is to intentionally and actionably practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude helps us focus on “what is” instead of “what if.” Some examples of practicing gratitude include:
- seeking joy in everyday moments,
- being grateful for what you have,
- and not squandering your joy.
Dr. Brown talks about how her six-year-old daughter created “picture memories” in her head of moments she was really happy, so she could think about them when she felt sad or lonely. Another way to dare greatly is to appreciate our cracks and imperfections. We all have them, so instead of hide from our imperfections, embrace them. And finally, a strategy to dare greatly in the face of numbing is to learn how to actually feel your feelings, stay mindful about your numbing habits, and learn how to lean into the discomfort of the tough emotions like shame and fear. Be curious about your emotions, instead of judgmental and consider what triggers may have contributed to these emotions. If we stick with our process, we will take a stand in our own lives and dare greatly!