brené brown – vulnerability & shame

brene brown 7 bw

find/follow Brené here:

brene brown site



brown belonging law.. shame.. vulnerability..


Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on, with over 6 million views.

social work: lean into the discomfort of the work
if it’s not measurable it doesn’t exist

connection is why we’re here, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives

unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection: shame
shame is the fear of disconnection
people who haven’t experienced shame – have no capacity for human empathy or connection
no one wants to talk about it and the less you talk about it the more you have it
underpenned by: excruciating vulnerability
in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, fully seen

after all her research – the only difference between those who had connection and those who didn’t was their feeling of worthiness

what they had in common was a sense of courage: to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart
the courage to be imperfect
the compassion to care for themselves
they had connection as a result of authenticity
they fully embraced vunlerability
they believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful, it was necessary

research: study phenomenon in order to control and predict

we numb.. but you can’t selectively numb emotion

i am enough.
we stop screaming and start listening.
we’re kinder and gentler to others and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves

you are imperfect and wired for struggle
but you are worthy of love and understanding

She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame,  at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach

3:40 – a small part of me engineering how i could stay small – right under the radar


vulnerability is not a weakness – that myth is profoundly dangerous – because it isour most accurate measure of ..

it’s the birthplace of creativity, innovation & change

you gotta dance with the one who brung ya – i did not learn about innovation/creativity/et al from studying vulnerability, i learned about them from studying shame.


Brené’s work/words from this article on high school:

Out of all the researchers who think about high-school-related topics, Brené Brown may be the one whose work interests me most. Since 2000, she has studied shame in pointillist detail. She’s written both academic papers and general-interest books on the subject; her ted lecture on shame was one of the most popular of all time. Because that’s what high school—both at the time and as the stuff of living memory—is about, in its way: shame. And indeed, when Brown and I met for breakfast this fall, she told me that high school comes up all the time in her work. “When I asked one of the very first men I ever interviewed, ‘What does shame mean to you?’ ” she recalled, “he answered, ‘Being shoved up against the lockers.’ High school is the metaphor for shame.

The academic interest in shame and other emotions of self-consciousness (guilt, embarrassment) is relatively recent. It’s part of a broader effort on the part of psychologists to think systematically about resilience—which emotions serve us well in the long run, which ones hobble and shrink us. Those who’ve spent a lot of time thinking about guilt, for example, have come to the surprising conclusion that it’s pretty useful and adaptive, because it tends to center on a specific event (I cannot believe I did that) and is therefore narrowly focused enough to be constructive (I will apologize, and I will not do that again).

Shame, on the other hand, is a much more global, crippling sensation. Those who feel it aren’t energized by it but isolated. They feel unworthy of acceptance and fellowship; they labor under the impression that their awfulness is something to hide. “And this incredibly painful feeling that you’re not lovable or worthy of belonging?” asks Brown. “You’re navigating that feeling every day in high school.”

Most of us, says Brown, opt for one of three strategies to cope with this pain. We move away from it, “by secret-keeping, by hiding”; we move toward it, “by people-pleasing”; or we move against it “by using shame and aggression to fight shame and aggression.” Whichever strategy we choose, she says, the odds are good we’ll use that strategy for life, and those feelings of shame will heave to the surface, unbidden and unannounced, in all sorts of unfortunate settings down the road.


via the link below (via Brené):

Shame underlies the vast majority of presenting issues that we see, yet it’s extremely difficult to address. The certification process gives facilitators the skills, knowledge, and awareness to understand shame, identify how and where it’s showing up in our work and in the lives of our clients, and how to work with clients to cultivate shame resilience so they can begin to explore the power of love, belonging, and being enough.

connections shame site brene


Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Coun

brene at 99

the creatives – the ones that no one sat with in high school and then everyone wants to be when they grow up

design is a function of connection

there is nothing more vulnerable than creativity

what is art without love

Theodore Roosevelt quote that changed her life:

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.

her shift:

1. not about winning/losing – it’s about showing up and being seen

2. this is who i want to be.. i want to create.. make things that didn’t exist before i touched them.. if you are going to show up/be seen, there is only one guarantee.. you will get your hiney kicked..

3. if you’re not in the arena also getting your hiney kicked.. i’m not interested in your feedback


when you armor up.. you set yourself apart from vulnerability.. and w/o vulnerability – you can’t create.

so when you walk out… know there will always be critics.. and to know exactly what they’ll say to you:

1. shame

2. scarcity – does this really matter

3. comparison

4. left open for you.. you gotta know who’s there

when we start caring what people think.. we lose our capacity for connection

when we become defined by what people think – we lose our capacity to be vulnerable

so – reserve 4 seats in the arena..  i see you, i hear you, but i’m going to show up and do this anyway

two things you need if you’re going in the arena – clarity of values and 1 person to be frank with you but there for you

reserve a seat for that person

and reserve a seat for yourself – you are your biggest critic

we orphan the parts of us that don’t fit with the ideal.. that just leaves the critic

nothing is as scary/dangerous/terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking.. what if i would have shown up..


vulnerability in context


notes from daring greatly:

daring greatly

We must be larger than anxiety, fear, and shame..

“One of the tragic ironies of modern life is that so many people feel isolated from each other by the very feelings they have in common: including a fear of failure and a sense of not being enough. – Sir Ken

“In an age of constant pressure to conform and pretend, Daring Greatly offers a compelling alternative: Transform your life by being who you really are. – Chris Guillabeau

When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.

..getting an intellectual handle on these issues isn’t the same as living and loving with your whole heart.

It feels good to have an explanation, especially one that conveniently makes us feel better about ourselves and places the blame on those people.

Shame is more likely to be the cause of these behaviors, not the cure.

“What’s worth doing even if I fail?”

We need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us.

I performed until there was no energy left to feel. I made what was uncertain certain, no matter what the cost. I stayed so busy that the truth of my hurting and my fear could never catch up. I looked brave on the outside and felt scared on the inside. Slowly I learned that this shield was too heavy to lug around, and that the only thing it really did was keep me from knowing myself and letting myself be known. The shield required that I stay small and quiet behind it so as not to draw attention to my imperfections and vulnerabilities. It was exhausting.

Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists—it’s so easy to keep us quiet.

Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying. Researchers don’t find shame correlated with positive outcomes at all—there are no data to support that shame is a helpful compass for good behavior.

.. when I asked the research participants how they normally responded to shame before they started working on shame resilience, I heard many comments like these: “When I feel shame, I’m like a crazy person. I do stuff and say stuff I would normally never do or say.” “Sometimes I just wish I could make other people feel as bad as I do. I just want to lash out and scream at everyone.” “I get desperate when I feel shame. Like I have nowhere to turn—no one to talk to.”

Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.”

To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave.

Masks make us feel safer even when they become suffocating.

.. armor can be hard to see on adults. Once we’ve worn it long enough, it molds to our shape and is ultimately undetectable—it’s like a second skin.

..depending on the level of shame and fear, most kids have yet to be convinced that the heaviness of the armor or the suffocating nature of a mask is worth the effort.

THE word persona is the Greek term for “stage mask.”

identity ness

When and how did we start using these defense mechanisms? What would it take to make us put the armor away?

.. it appears that believing that we’re “enough” is the way out of the armor—it gives us permission to take off the mask.

Perfectionism is a form of shame.

Perfectionism is exhausting because hustling is exhausting. It’s a never-ending performance.

Art is all just perfectly imperfect. Once the word Art enters the description of what you’re up to, it is almost like getting a hall pass from perfection. It thankfully releases us from any expectation of perfection.

.. we need to examine the idea of “taking the edge off,” and that means considering the glasses of wine we drink while we’re cooking dinner, eating dinner, and cleaning up after dinner, our sixty-hour workweeks, the sugar, the fantasy football, the prescription pills, and the four shots of espresso that we drink in order to clear the fog from the wine and Advil PM. I’m talking about you and me and the stuff we do every day. When I looked at the data, my primary question was “What are we numbing and why?” Americans today are more debt-ridden, obese, medicated, and addicted than we ever have been. For the first time in history, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that automobile accidents are now the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States. The leading cause? Drug overdoses. In fact, more people die from prescription drug overdoses than from heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine drug use combined.

Clearly there’s a problem. We’re desperate to feel less or more of something—to make something go away or to have more of something else.

Because we are hardwired for connection, disconnection always creates pain. Feeling disconnected can be a normal part of life and relationships, but when coupled with the shame of believing that we’re disconnected because we’re not worthy of connection, it creates a pain that we want to numb.

People will do almost anything to escape this combination of condemned isolation and powerlessness.”

I drank and smoked to minimize my feelings of vulnerability and to look busy when all of the other girls at my table had been asked to dance. I literally needed something to do, something to help me look busy.

Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world,..

There aren’t any checklists or norms to help you identify shadow comforts or other destructive numbing behavior. This requires self-examination and reflection.

two needs.. via self talk..

The statistics on post-traumatic-stress-related suicides, violence, addiction, and risk-taking all point to this haunting truth: For soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, coming home is more lethal than being in combat. From the invasion of Afghanistan to the summer of 2009, the US military lost 761 soldiers in combat in that country. Compare that to the 817 who took their own lives over the same period. And this number doesn’t account for deaths related to violence, high-risk behaviors, and addiction.

“Service members are, simply put, more capable of killing themselves by sheer consequence of their professional training.” The situation may be at its most extreme in the military, but if you look at the mental and physical health statistics of police officers, you’ll find the same thing.

Lawyers—an example of a profession largely trained in win or lose, succeed or fail—have outcomes that aren’t much better. The American Bar Association reports that suicides among lawyers are close to four times greater than the rate of the general population. An American Bar Association Journal article reported that experts on lawyer depression and substance abuse attributed the higher suicide rate to lawyers’ perfectionism and on their need to be aggressive and emotionally detached.

.. using vulnerability is not the same thing as being vulnerable; it’s the opposite—it’s armor.

Evolution and incremental change is important and we need it, but we’re desperate for real revolution..

The important thing to know about worthiness is that it doesn’t have prerequisites.

Shame loves prerequisites.

..fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

gabor mate quote

Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.

“trust in emergence.”


rising strong highlights/notes (thank you library):

The opposite of scarcity is not abundance; the opposite of scarcity is simply enough.

loc 653 – story is the big picture. story is process. story is research. (on wall at pixar)

loc 665 – That’s where my richest data comes from: a person’s lived experiences.

self talk as data

940 – Curiosity’s reason for existing is not simply to be a tool used in acquiring knowledge; it reminds us that we’re alive

953 – study published in oct 22 2014 issue of the journal neuron suggests that the brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us better lean and retain info

1087 – the ego doesn’t own stories or want to write new endings; it denies emotion and hates curiosity.

1112 – If we numb compulsively and chronically—it’s addiction. And, as I pointed out in the TEDx talk, this is an issue. We are still the most in-debt, obese, medicated, and addicted adults in human history. Looking back over the past fourteen years of research, I’ve come to believe that addiction, like violence, poverty, and inequality, is one of the greatest societal challenges we face today.

1124 – There is so much wisdom in our bodies. We just need to learn how to listen and trust what we’re hearing.

self talk as dataquiet enough

John Kelldon insight from this tweet: 21C Literacy: Biosemiosis

1203 – breathing – 4 in thru nose expand stomach – 4 hold – 4 out thru mouth contract stomach – 4 hold

1237 – mindfulness and flow are never in competition with each other. They aren’t the same thing, but they share the same foundation: making the choice to pay attention.

1261 – breath and mindfulness give us the awareness and space we need to make choices that are aligned with our values..

bj miller on having the support to make choices…

 1319 – Robert Burton, a neurologist and novelist, explains that our brains reward us with dopamine when we recognize and complete patterns. Stories are patterns. The brain recognizes the familiar beginning-middle-end structure of a story and rewards us for clearing up the ambiguity. Unfortunately, we don’t need to be accurate, just certain

confabulation and conspiracy

1369 – in daring greatly i write – one reason i’m confident that shame exists in schools is simply because 85% of men/women we interviewed for shame research could recall a school incident from childhood that was so shaming that ti changed how they thought of themselves as learners.

indeed.. but also thinking of Ta-Nehisi‘s thinking about b on b – ie: that’s where we are… for so much of our youth. and this is so beyond memories (confabulations..?) in schools. in our system.. that could have come from home/anywhere as well.. in regard to – not being enough. systemic change.

1393 – conspiracy thinking is all about fear-based self-protection and our intolerance for uncertainty.

1718 – People aren’t themselves when they’re scared. It might be all they can do.

1770 – people are doing the best they can

i know you ness

1874 – The truth is that judgment and anger take up way more emotional bandwidth for us. Beyond that, they are often shaming and disrespectful to the person who is struggling, and ultimately toxic to the entire culture.

1887 – stop loving people for who they could be and start loving them for who they are

what is the hypothesis of generosity.. what is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?

2001 – i can never be sure about the intentions of others, but i believe that assuming the best about other people can fundamentally change my life.

2327 – compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. it’s a relationship between equals.

2339 – sympathy is more likely to be a shame trigger than something that heals shame. (talking compassion, empathy and sympathy)

2458 – choosing whom I see and whom I don’t see is one of the most hurtful functions of privilege

2581 – she wasn’t afraid of people in need because she wasn’t afraid of needing others

2604 – we don’t have to do all of it alone. we were never meant to.

2618 – the choice not to see someone fundamentally diminishes our shared humanity.

i know you ness – danger of a single story

2630 – i realized that the real reason i look away is not my fear of helping others, but my fear of needing help.

Helping and giving are comfortable for me. I wanted to solve this issue by doing more of what I already do. When I look back at this rising strong example now, I think about how often we all try to solve problems by doing more of what’s not working—just doing it harder, grinding it out longer. We’ll do anything to avoid the lowest of the low—self-examination.

again – imagine we didn’t think of it as lowest of low – but rather daily delight.. self-talk as data – toward eudaimonative surplus ness

2641 -From a young age, I learned how to earn love, gold stars, and praise by being the helper. It was the role I played in my family, with my friends, and even with a few of my early boyfriends. After a while, helping became less about gold stars and more about my identity. Helping was the most value I brought to a relationship. If I couldn’t help or, God forbid, if I had to ask for help, what value did I bring?

2649 – the danger of tying yourself-worth to being a helper id feeling shame when you have to ask for help

may you always do for others and let others do for you -Bob Dylan

2677 – We need to give and we need to need

dependence starts when we’re born and lasts until we die. we accept our dependence as babies, and ultimately, with varying levels of resistance, we accept help as we get to the end of our lives. but in the middle of our lives, we mistakenly fall prey to the myth that successful people are those who help rather than need, and broken people need rather than help

2905 – breakdown to 7 elements of trust… whoa. i don’t know. i think it’s all or nothing…  a checklist for trust…?

3068 – good points/spin on regrets

3581 – who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung


the anatomy of trust – on oprah super soul

trust built on small moments.. marble jar… (attending funerals, asking for help,..)

i don’t know..

what is trust… choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else – feltman

distrust … what i have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you – feltman


boundaries –

reliability – i only trust you if you’re reliable..over and over again…

? whoa.

accountability – i can only trust you if .. when you make a mistake you can own it, apologize, make amends

vault – what i share w/you you will hold in confidence..  other door of vault .. gossip on other people – you acknowledge confidentiality.. often times we share .. to hotwire a connection.. built on talking about other people.. common enemy intimacy

integrity – i can not trust you if you don’t act from a place of integrity.. 1\ choosing courage over comfort 2\ choosing right over fun/easy 3\ practicing values not just professing them

non-judgment – esp for asking for help

generosity – only trusting if you can assume most generous thing about my words/intentions/behaviors

this is the anatomy of trust.. and we nee to break it down…. so that we can talk about it..

i don’t know.

thinking trust ness

thinking your own song ness

the thing about trust

unconditional trust


talking about holacracy..


braving the wilderness


dare to lead – mostly skimmed (because to me book felt like this):


a major key to the success of our program is training leaders and employees on what courageous feedback looks and feels like

hard to read.. because i no longer believe in employees and leaders and esp training.. (i’m thinking if we need training we’re doing it wrong – we’re missing us)

and a lot sounded/storied like her other books


june 2019 – Are People Doing The Best They Can?” | Brené Brown & Russell Brand

7 min clip


brené brown’s husband at 7 min (@stevesalley): i don’t know if people are doing the best they can but my life is better when i assume that they are

devijver assume good law


whole talk w russell 1:22 []

8 min – when i’m teaching/talking.. that’s flow for me.. i never rehears.. (russell – why?).. that’s the opposite of flow for me

14 min – i’ve never seen people with so much fear.. and so sick and tired of being afraid.. so something’s going to happen

27 min – what about all the casualties that need the attention now

for (blank)’s sake..  a nother way

32 min – i see my contribution as helping people see how to transform their pain so they don’t take it out on others..

r: we’ve created a system that doesn’t allow for spirituality

rampant dehumanization.. the most dangerous thing we’re facing now.. humans are essentially spiritual

41 min – i can see the face of god in anyone.. but i’m going to hold you accountable for what you’ve done

accountable ness.. oi

42 min – most compassionate people.. have boundaries of steel


48 min – if god told me *they were doing the best they could.. i would have to stop being angry and start grieving.. hard to be compassionate toward people when they’re hurting us..

*7 min clip above

1:02 – when you avoid conflict to make peace w other people.. you start a war within (on the boundaries thing)

rest on choice theory w children


deray (@deray) tweeted at 3:40 PM on Tue, Jun 18, 2019:
It’s like @BreneBrown was speaking directly to me in her Netflix special. I’ll be re-watching it tonight. If you haven’t seen it, you need to put it on your list.

44 min – we’re hardwired for belonging .. it’s in our dna (right after saying increasing number of people today not willing to take risk to love because will get hurt)..

45 min – let me tell you what belonging is .. from the research..

brown belonging law:

the opposite of belonging.. is fitting in..t

fitting in is assessing and acclimating.. here’s what i should say/be.. talk/dress like.. that’s fitting in

supposed to’s.. of school/work killing us

godin – the desire to fit in often overwhelms our curiosity

belonging is belonging to yourself first.. speaking your truth and never betraying yourself for other people.. true belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.. it requires you to be who you are.. and that’s vulnerable..t

maté trump law

46 min – joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions.. we are terrified to feel joy.. in the midst of great things.. we literally dress rehearse tragedy

59 min – to not have the conversation because it makes you uncomfortable is the defn of privilege

1:05 – people are taking their pain and working it out on other people..

1:08 – you don’t measure vulnerability by the amount of disclosure.. you measure it by the amount of courage to show up and be seen when you can’t control the outcome

why measure it..? verbiage.. let’s just not use measuring ness.. for humanity.. ie: bateson measuring as managing law.. et al

1:15 – vulnerability is hard, scary, and it feels dangerous, but it’s not as hard, scary or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves.. ‘what if i would have shown up’.. t.. said i love you.. come off the blocks

show up.. be seen.. answer the call to courage.. cause you’re worth it.. you’re worth being brave