The Daring Way: Daring Greatly Review
“Courage starts with letting ourselves show up and be seen.”
Happy September all! It’s hard to believe that today is Labor Day already! Today marks the beginning of my favorite season. There’s something about the changing of the leaves, the crisp air, the yummy foods, and of course a hot beverage with pumpkin spice that makes me feel content and happy. Although I am always sad to see the summer end, the silver lining for me is always the fact that I love fall!
So to mark the start of my favorite season, I have chosen to blog about something I am very passionate about The Daring Way! Each week I will review one of the components of The Daring Way. To do this, I am going to write a review (Melissa style) of one of the books that serve as the foundation of the research. Then, I will share with you how I integrate the concepts into my clinical work. Ultimately, I hope this will explain to you why I am so passionate about Brené Brown’s work.
Let’s dive into learning about Daring Greatly!
Three years ago I picked up Daring Greatly through my Audible membership. It looked interesting, sounded like it could apply to my work with clients and intrigued me. Then, the very first chapter hooked me. The words were very relatable and spoke to my core in such a way that no other author had done.
Over the years, I have learned to laugh at myself and embrace my quirkiness. But, I also convinced myself that the humor was for me to amuse myself, not something that others needed to hear. My internal dialog was having fun. Meanwhile, my outside demeanor was poised, measured, determined by the environment and always a facade. Even when my life was falling apart, I still had a smile on my face and a willingness to help. No matter what, I was always everyone’s cheerleader. As much as I do not like giving ‘power’ to any single thing – Daring Greatly was my first glimpse into what authentic living can look like. Quirks and all!
Daring Greatly Melissa Moment #1: Shame is the fear of social disconnection. It’s only human to feel it, but harmful nonetheless.
Everyone experiences shame. It is grounded in our early memories of what others think of us, how we interact with others, and what that reaction has looked like throughout our life.
But to truly understand how shame works, we need to think about the basic human need for connection, love, and belonging.
Humans crave social interaction with others
According to Dr. Brown’s research, we are social creatures who are wired to be in connection with others. Social disconnection causes significant pain that is felt both emotionally and physically. For example, the pandemic caused many of my clients emotional and physical pain when they were forced to social distance and stay away from their loved ones. The impact that social isolation has on us is significant enough to alter our brain chemistry.
Then the cycle begins: The emotional fatigue translates to physical fatigue, which of course leads to some impressive television binge-watching, which then triggers feelings of shame allowing the cycle to continue.
Self-doubt and Shame
The belief that we’re not worthy of love, connection, and belonging that we need to survive is often found behind the feelings of shame. At the core of shame is not feeling like we have worth and value. It’s thinking there is nothing we can do to feel “good enough.” The feelings of being a fraud, hypocrite, or imposter are hard to get rid of. In fact, these feelings generally remain until you’re ready to address them through online therapy for imposter syndrome or another means.
Shame is harmful to us. It stops us from dreaming and achieving. Ultimately, shame causes us to disconnect from others. If you cannot dream big, you cannot dare greatly. If you cannot dare greatly, you live your authentic life and thrive.
In her research, the author, Brené Brown, discovered that shame weakens our ability to believe we can improve ourselves. Other researchers also have found that shame leads to negative, destructive behavior; in blunt terms, shame has zero positive effects.
Daring Greatly Melissa Moment #2: Shame promotes the fear of not having or being enough.
FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out
Years ago, I was working with a teenager who was very proud that she had 879 friends on a popular social media site. I distinctly remember the number since she repeated it a few times with such a level of pride that it makes it hard to forget. Then, being me, I challenged her to tell me something specific about each one of her “friends”. The purpose of the question was not to be sassy as much as it was to discuss the definition of “friend” to explore decision making, choices, etc. My delightful client immediately started telling me something about each person. Obviously, the intervention did not go as expected. But, the impact of social media was evident in how this individual viewed her worth: through the lens of others. On a screen. Even though she has never met them. So, you get my point.
We often forget that the images displayed on social media only show a fraction of our friends’ lives.
In a world pervaded by social media, we’re constantly presenting ourselves and our lives to the public. We share our personal and professional accomplishments for everyone to see – and to envy. We take fifty pictures to get the right one, at the right angle, with the right filter to depict our “perfect” lives.
Such envy often leads to a feeling of scarcity that we’ve all felt occasionally. Perhaps, as we listened to a friend’s exotic adventures, or as we gazed longingly at things we could never afford. Or, as discussed last week, feeling like a misfit for not being able to measure up to your professional peers.
We live in a society that embraces being “never-enough.” The last few months have reflected this concept in a very profound way. Comparing pandemic experiences via social media posts has become the norm. For example, you may compare your summer adventures to your friends who rented an RV and toured the United States.
I have had many versions of this conversation:
Client: “Everyone else seems to be thriving during this time.”
Melissa: “How do you know?”
Client: “Well I saw it on social media.”
The comparison triggers shame, representing our fear of not being enough, and thus unworthy of human connection. Shame leads to our disengagement: we stop trying to improve ourselves because, we believe, we can never be good enough anyway. We do this because we fear failure and not being worthy.
Daring Greatly Melissa Moment #3: Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and is far from a sign of weakness.
Anytime I bring up the issue of vulnerability, I have yet to find anyone who has a good reaction to the thought of being vulnerable. Sadly, it is often viewed as being a sign of weakness in a culture that embraces strength, independence, and a “suck it up” mentality. In fact, most people I speak with are scared of being vulnerable. They worry that they won’t be able to protect themselves from risks and being taken advantage of.
Let’s review what Daring Greatly says about what vulnerability really means.
First, according to Brené Brown’s research, vulnerability is neither good nor bad. Instead, being vulnerable simply means you have the capacity to experience emotions. Sounds less scary through that lens, right? Through this lens, vulnerability means uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. For every risk that we take on an emotional level, we run the risk of being hurt. For example, I reached out to someone that I have a fractured relationship with, but they declined my gesture. I took a risk and was vulnerable and sadly rejected. I don’t regret it because it was an opportunity to be strong and brave.
In essence, allowing oneself to be vulnerable shows immense strength. It is not a weakness. I think our society would be a lot better if we could all be brave and show vulnerability. But, for now, take a step back and evaluate that from a micro-level: how would YOU change if you were vulnerable? What could be different in YOUR life if you could allow yourself to be vulnerable and take risks?
Daring Greatly means that sometimes we may fail. Daring Greatly means that sometimes, someone may reject us.
However, Daring Greatly will allow us to be seen, understood, and embrace fully who we are at our authentic core. So, is it worth the risk? In my opinion, yes. But, it all depends on how much you want to change your current circumstances.
Daring Greatly Melissa Moment #4: Instead of avoiding vulnerability, embracing it may improve your outlook on life and your relationships.
If you think it’s worth the risk (or are at least considering being vulnerable…) then, you have the opportunity to grow in a profound way.
On a personal level, embracing vulnerability allows you to feel more connected in your relationships. But, it could also mean that you may be taken advantage of.
Instead of running from that thought, try reframing that fear. It is my humble opinion that embracing vulnerability allows you to manage your boundaries in a stronger way. How does that work, you ask? Once you realize that you can show your authentic self to others, you are also able to realize when someone is disrespecting you. You can identify who is a marble jar friend, who is a critic, and who lives in the cheap seats.
Professionally, dreaming big means taking risks. Taking risks means allowing yourself to be vulnerable to potential failure. Simply stated, without being vulnerable you will stay safe. Staying safe equates to staying small. Stepping into your arena is never about playing small.
What if you don’t want to embrace vulnerability?
If you ignore your vulnerability, or you’re simply unaware of it, you might end up increasing it. You will also always end up playing it safe. Not being fully authentic and oftentimes means being stuck. If we call a spade a spade and name it: vulnerability can become a positive instrument.
What is our greatest internal barrier to embracing vulnerability? According to Brené Brown in Daring Greatly, it is through living in our shame.
Daring Greatly Melissa Moment #5: Owning our shame, and our unedited story results in being grounded in our own resiliency. Owning our stories allows us to be present and experience empathy for others.
I am the queen of compartmentalizing. My ability to poker face (when I want to) is impressive and has taken years of practice to master. Part of that is due to what I do and my need to leave myself at the door with clients. I do this after years of shielding myself from the shame I was holding onto. It’s that fear that someone will really know you and taking that chance that they’ll accept you. Shame is the fear of self-exposure. It’s not a feeling we usually share easily with others. When I got to the point in my journey that hiding my story was more exhausting than embracing vulnerability, peeling back the facade was my only option. So, I shared my true authentic self with those who had earned the right to hear my story.
I understand the struggle to drop the mask. I have been there. But, since I have been there, I can also understand the powerful impact that being fully authentic can bring as well.
We’ve all wished sometimes for the ground to open and swallow us up, shielding us from the judgmental glances and suppressed laughter of others. Often, the feeling of shame is more painful to us than whatever it is we’re ashamed about. Let me rephrase that – the majority of the time the FEELING of shame is more painful than the experience that led to the feelings.
Thought = Emotion = Behaviors
If we can target the thought of the fear, then the emotion will not be as powerful. Which (yes, in theory…) will decrease avoidance behavior.
Shame doesn’t even require the presence of other people: most of us are our own worst critic and maintain a stockpile of shame to draw from. Becoming shame resilient means that we increase our self-compassion, own our story, and walk in authenticity. Will that mean we never feel shame ever again? Absolutely not. But, what it will mean is that we can look at our perceived failures as teachable moments after which we talk through the experience, learn, grow, and take another risk on another day. That is the only way to not live small. That is the only way to dare greatly. And, that is the only way to own your worth.
Gaining resilience towards shame is just the first step on our way to embracing vulnerability and living a more engaged and connected life.
Perfectionism: We strive for perfection to shield ourselves from the possibility of failure.
Instead of allowing our fear of never-enough to take over, we start accepting that we are and have enough already, this will enable us to unmask ourselves and reveal our vulnerability.
If we are able to be satisfied with what we are – no matter what the scale says, no matter what degrees you have, no matter what your relationship status currently is – Then, we’re able to embrace our vulnerability. Ultimately, this frees us to lose the masks that are only causing harm. Without such masks, we can finally see ourselves, and be seen by those around us.
Check out my blog series on masks to start determining what role your mask is plating for you!
- Daily Masks: Self Image
- Daily Masks: What are your values?
- Daily Masks: Self Sabotage
- Daily Masks: Overcoming Shame
To live a shame-free life, we must learn to love ourselves unconditionally. We have to rely on our inherent worthiness when interacting with friends, family, and colleagues. In doing so, we dare to be vulnerable because failure and rejection cannot diminish our sense of worthiness. By embracing our vulnerability, by putting ourselves out there and being engaged, we can establish deeper relationships with others and change our private and work lives for the better.
My clinical examples tend to be based on my silly antics, ridiculous snafus, and overall Melissa Moments. Now, don’t get me wrong, my clinical examples are settled in the 10% of my world that I share transparently. My marble jars friends (and big brother of course..) are the “privileged” few that have earned the space to experience the rest.
Why I developed Therapy for Therapists™
Therapy for Therapists™ was developed after reading this book. It was created to be a space for clinicians to be authentic with someone who understands why a partial facade is critical to success. Someone who can walk into the arena with you, be your biggest supporter but is also in the same arena fighting the same fight next to you. Ultimately, it was created by someone who KNOWS that there is another way to live.
Authentic. Vulnerable. Real. Bruised… But Not Broken.
Just because you help other people achieve their goals does not mean that it always translates into you being able to do the same thing in your life. I get that. I have been there. But I also know that if you DARE GREATLY you cannot fail. Check out Theodore Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena speech. It may just find it’s way to your wall like it has mine!
It will be uncomfortable, it may be painful and it definitely will challenge you. But, at the end of this journey, I hope you realize that the emotional mask is not worth the energy any longer.
Being known for who you uniquely are at the core is a freeing experience.
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Always remember to take care of you. You are worth it!
Give yourself permission to begin online therapy or join me for a Daring Way™ workshop:
I want to help you live authentically. As a therapist, I specialize in providing therapy for helping professionals,therapy for therapists, and therapy for busy professionals.therapy for burnout and compassion fatigue, and therapy for imposter syndrome. I also offer online counseling in Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee, and Ohio. Please contact me today, and let’s talk!
If you want to find out more before you schedule a consultation or join a group, then you can learn about me as an online therapist, check out my FAQs, or read Mondays with Melissa, my mental health blog.