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Daring Greatly

I’ve just read Daring Greatly by research professor, TED talk extraordinaire and close friend of Elizabeth Gilbert (a favourite author), Brené Brown. You’ve probably heard of her, might have read some of her huge back catalogue of work, or seen her documentary on Netflix… which is next on my list!

So, back to Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. What an incredible book! I feel like it should be mandatory reading for everyone – at what age, I am not so sure, but it seems like there is important stuff galore in this book that everyone should read. Not just for insight into ourselves, but also into those around us.

It focuses on shame and vulnerability, and how important it is for us to learn shame resilience and be vulnerable with those around us; this helps create better and closer connections, and leads us to what Brené calls Wholeheartedness: the capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity, cultivate courage and compassion, and embrace the imperfections of who we really are.

Which all sounds a bit self-helpy, but really, at its foundations, it is not. As I have read this book, I’ve felt like in many ways the only area I feel the shame that Brené speaks of is in regard to my appearance – or more specifically, weight (which is quite common), and it’s something I am so keen to get over. Why am I so worried that I’m not thin? Well, as Brené explains, as a society, we are conditioned to think that women should be slim (and men should be strong) and it’s a really tough mindset to overcome. So that is where I need to do some work on myself, but let’s move right along.

Another feature of this book which I have found really insightful, is explaining how shame effects men, and their responses to shame. Since becoming mum to a little boy, I’ve been focused on trying to reduce gender ‘norms’. Charlie has a doll; we play tea parties; he wears pink clothes sometimes; if he cries, I comfort him and have never told him not to cry. Obviously that’s all easier with a baby and toddler, but I will continue as best as I can with this as he grows. Daring Greatly shares research into the way boys are traditionally conditioned to show no fear, be strong and, to a degree, aggressive – and how much this impacts on most men’s ability to truly be vulnerable and express themselves.

I’ll leave it at that, and encourage you to read the book. It really is insightful and, I think, important.

Reviewed by Celeste