Brené Brown: The Courage to be Vulnerable

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January 29, 2013

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Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston’s graduate college of social work who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly, and with Sounds True she has created the audio learning course The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Courage, and Connection. In this episode, Tami speaks with Brené about the cultural myth that equates vulnerability as weakness instead of recognizing it as the greatest measure of our courage. They also examine Brené’s research about the qualities that allow someone to live in a wholehearted way. (66 minutes)

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Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston's Graduate College of Social Work who has spent the past 10 years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She is a nationally renowned speaker and has won numerous teaching awards, including the college's Outstanding Faculty Award. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on PBS, NPR, and CNN. Her 2010 TEDxHouston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of most watched talks on TED.com. Her most recent TED talk, "Listening to Shame," was released in March 2012.

Brené is the author of The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't). She is also the author of Connections, a psychoeducational shame resilience curriculum that is being facilitated across the nation by mental health and addiction professionals.

Brené's current research focuses on wholeheartedness in families, schools, and organizations. She lives in Houston with her husband and their two young children.

Author photo © Danny Clarc

Listen to Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interview with Brené:
The Courage to be Vulnerable »

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The Courage to be Vulnerable

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston’s graduate college of social work who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Brené is the author of the number-one New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly, and with Sounds True she has created the audio learning course The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage. In this episode, Tami Simon speaks with Brené about the cultural myth that equates vulnerability with weakness instead of recognizing it as the greatest measure of our courage. They also examine Brené’s research into the qualities that allow someone to live in a wholehearted way. (66 minutes)

The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting – with Brené B...

We all know that perfect parenting does not exist, yet we still struggle with the social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. These messages are powerful and we end up spending precious time and energy managing perception and the carefully edited versions of the families we show to the world.

On The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection, Dr. Brené Brown invites us on a journey to transform the lives of parents and children alike. Drawing on her 12 years of research on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame, she presents 10 guideposts to creating what she describes as “wholehearted” families where each of us can continually learn and grow as we reach our full potential. 

Brené Brown on Embracing Vulnerability

“You cannot access empathy if you’re not willing to be vulnerable.” What a rich and evocative statement from our friend and Sounds True author Brené Brown. There is such a deeply-rooted pull to move toward those emotional-states that we identify as “positive” or “light” or “spiritual” – along with a counter move away from those “darker” or challenging and exposing emotions such as vulnerability, sadness, and grief. But, as Brené reminds us, vulnerability is the ground of all of the so-called positive emotional states, including those of love, joy, and belonging.

When we can allow ourselves to be naked, exposed, to be profoundly touched by whatever appears, we can meet this life – and the sweet, beautiful heart of another – in the most precious way. It is in this turning into the immediacy of our experience, in a truly embodied way, that we come to discover the many fruits of this sacred world. There are times, of course, when doing so is not easy, when it takes everything we have (and more), and feels completely counter-instinctual. But somehow, by some mysterious grace, we learn to stay with what is there, knowing that it has something very precious to show us about ourselves, and about the true nature of love. 

If you are interested in learning more about Brené’s teachings and research in the areas of vulnerability, shame, and worthiness, you may enjoy her original audio programs with Sounds True:

The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection

Men, Women, and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage

Enjoy the following video from Brené on the gifts of embracing vulnerability.

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