Vulnerable Enough To Build Relationships That Matter

This is a review of a book that helped me understand people on a whole new level. Subscribe here to get a sneak peek of my upcoming book, which helps you find clarity and confidence in your relationships.

There are always too many books on my to-read list.

So when a friend of mine, who’s very well read, recommended a couple books recently, I took notice. His suggestions moved to the top of the list.

The first was a book of keen insight into the world of personality types, relationships, healthy and unhealthy expressions of different personalities, and growing in (and despite) some types we often struggle to understand from one person to another.

Through that book and the second book, I’ve been learning more about who people are, how they act, how they connect or disconnect, and explained reasons beneath the surface-level actions or words that healthy or unhealthy people express.

It’s a breath of fresh air to get a better understanding of the mystery that humans are.

The second book was “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” by Brené Brown.

Here are a few excerpts that spoke to me. I hope you find something meaningful to you, too.

8 Challenging and Empowering Thoughts from Brené Brown’s “Daring Greatly”

1. Every Moment Matters

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.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to waste my life. The thought of putting in a lifetime of work and relationships without making a difference in people’s lives is dreadful. According to Brown, then, I need to be honest about who I am, my imperfections, and do the aching work of living fully, now and not procrastinating.

2. Freedom To Fail

If we want to reignite innovation and passion, we have to rehumanize work. When shame becomes a management style, engagement dies. When failure is not an option we can forget about learning, creativity, and innovation.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had jobs you hated with bosses you found infuriating. I think this is why—at least one reason. I want to be in work environments and around coworkers and leaders who allow me to fail so I can really learn and grow.

3. Choose People Wisely

Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process.

I want my friendships to be one of the strongest, most supportive and celebratory aspects of my life—for me and for my friends. It’s easy for us all to share incredibly personal details and thoughts online, thanks to the ease and (often false) sense of community of social networks. Yet the best way for me to build the most supportive relationships with my friends, I need to allow each relationship to earn the trust necessary to bear the weight of the good and the bad we all experience together. Choose few, choose wisely, build trust.

Read “5 Reasons Why Friendships Should Be Exclusive

4. Don’t Miss Joy

Joy comes to us in moments—ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.

Sometimes, it’s my attempts to make everything epic and tweet-worthy in my life that I miss things that matter. Or I swing to the other extreme and see everything as mundanely ordinary, and therefore unworthy of my attention. Modern entertainment technology will always provide an opportunity to make reality what it’s not, so it might benefit us to step away from the life we think others expect of us and instead live the life we’re meant to live. Maybe a great life is simpler than we thought it could be.

5. Made For Connection

We may have a couple of hundred friends on Facebook, plus a slew of colleagues, real-life friends, and neighbors, but we feel alone and unseen. 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.

For a long, long time I’ve felt intellectually and intuitively, in my head and my heart, that we’re meant to live in community. The best times of life have been so great largely because I experienced something with people who mean a lot to me. I hope you’ve felt that kind of connection, too, and I hope you’ve felt healing from the pain that disconnections cause.

6. The Vulnerability Conundrum

When we stop caring about what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety net below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism.

This is why I think interdependence is a big deal. Independence is the mindset that we can do everything ourselves, alone. Dependence says we can’t do anything unless we’re always with someone else. Interdependence recognizes the need to live in authentic connection with other people, yet resilient enough to persevere when people let us down—because they will. That is the nature of being human.

7. Feedback Is Vital

Giving and soliciting feedback is about learning and growth, and understanding who we are and how we respond to the people around us is the foundation in this process.

We cannot grow into the people we’re meant to be unless we allow others—trusted friends, mentors, family, leaders—speak into our lives and offer perspective that we can’t achieve on our own. We can all make each other better with constructive criticism.

8. Your Identity Matters

Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.

We’re all counting on you to be a great you. No one else can.


This is a review of a book that helped me understand people on a whole new level. Subscribe here to get a sneak peek of my upcoming book, which helps you find clarity and confidence in your relationships.

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Which quote about vulnerability, resilience, shame, and relationships speaks most to you and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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3 responses to “Vulnerable Enough To Build Relationships That Matter

    • Hey Emily, the first book was “Discovering Your Personality Type” by Riso and Hudson, based on the Enneagram personality indicator test. Super insightful. What’s on your to-read list?

      • This is my list so far:
        1. One-thousand Gifts
        2. God is Able-Priscilla Shirer
        3. Friendships:Avoiding the Ones That Hurt, Finding the Ones that Heal-Jeff Wickwire
        4. Practicing the presence of God-Brother Lawrence
        5. Boundaries
        6. The Best Yes
        7. As a Man Thinketh-Allen James-done!
        8. From Poverty to Power-James Allen
        9. Strong Women Soft Hearts
        10. Streams in the Desert
        11. Listening Prayer- Mary Swope
        12. A Leader in the making- Joyce Myer
        13. Prophets and Personal Prophecy
        14. Plot perfect-Paul Muniers
        David mines
        15. The Wise Woman-George MacDonald
        16. A Tramp For God- Corrie Ten Boom
        17. Chosen to be Gods Prophet
        18. She Can Laugh At The Days To Come
        19. Fearless-Max Lucado
        20. Face to Face with the Father: a Chronicle of the Men and Women who saw the Face of God and Lived”
        21. Break Out-Joel Osteen

        I’ll be 39 this year and plan to read AT Least 39 books.

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