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I'm Oprah Winfrey, welcome to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast, I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. Your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us. Starts right now, Dr. Bernard.
I know that you have been you all have been counting down the days till Briney literally on Twitter, all my Twitter Roddy's are here, my Twitter followers on Twitter, buyside with around Renee Rene vulnerability, hashtag unknowability. She's really Dr. Briney Brown. But we get to call her Bernie because we're that friendly. Yes. She is a professor at the University of Houston Grad School and has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, studying courage, studying worthiness and shame.
And she's also the author of Daring Greatly. We're not here to talk about the book as much as we're here to talk about you all now. I know a lot of you saw her 2010 TED talk on the power of vulnerability. You all saw it here. OK.
You were among the 10 million views and counting for that TED talk, and she has over two hundred thousand devoted followers on Facebook and Twitter. Not bad for a girl from Texas.
About four years people have been telling me, tweeting me, you got to meet Brittney Brown. And we finally met a few months ago and we just click, we're sisters, we're lost sisters. And she introduced us to the notion of daring greatly. And I was like, yes, yes, yes, yes. I could not agree more. Life is about showing up, you say, and being seen and daring greatly is the guide for tonight's class teaching us how to bring in everything we've been craving more and more of everything in our lives.
More joy, more trust, more intimacy, more empathy, more innovation and creativity. So tell everybody what daring greatly means. OK, so we asked the life class community to fill in the blanks for us. Vulnerability. What does vulnerability feel like? Can we see this answer? I grew up thinking vulnerability was yeah. So vulnerability feels like being helpless, embarrassed, being a small child, a lump in your throat, emptiness, allowing people to judge you, letting go of the life preserver, your first kiss, your first kiss.
Everybody remembers that. Yeah. And so one of the things I think I've learned the most that was so powerful for me is learning for the first time in my life at forty seven that it is possible to be afraid and courageous and the exact same moment. Wow. Like I always grew up believing you were either brave or you were afraid. You're either courageous. Are you were fearful. And I think the truth is that most of us are brave and afraid every minute of the day at the exact same time.
And to me, that's what daring greatly is. And the truth was that up until the TED talk, I had engineered my career to be very small. Because everyone sitting in here, everyone watching. Has something they can think of about themselves that would be so hurtful to hear someone else say about you that you would risk anything you do anything to not make that happen. I would never want to hear someone say this about me. And so for me, I had that list.
And in order never to hear those things, I kept my career really small. Then Ted happens. Wow. And it gets out from underneath me.
Then you get 10 million. I love it when she uses that voice. I'm just saying it gives me goose bumps. It just comes over me. I can't. I know. That's awesome. And so there's like a week where I am everywhere and every magazine and every news article and my husband and my therapist are like, do not read the comments online. So I read all the comments online, how many of you can resist a show of hands, how many of you think you could resist?
I have learned to resist. You learned yet? Rivals, Twitter thugs. Oh. Thugs, thugs, thugs on fixing to set them straight to fix, too, to OK, so I read all the comments and on this one day I heard everything. I heard everything that I was afraid to hear. My whole life that kept me small, I heard, of course, Bernie embraces imperfection. What choice would you have if you look like her?
She should wait and talk about worthiness when she loses 15 pounds. I feel sorry. And, you know, and I talk about my life. I protect my family a lot, but I also use their names so they would use my kid. I feel sorry for Ellen and Charlie, how horrible it would be to have her as a mom. So the only thing the best thing you can do as a mental health professional to the best thing I could do in that situation was peanut butter, a blanket and eight hours of Downton Abbey.
See, that would have sent me to a bowl to put my face in some macaroni. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. Lord have mercy, somebody bring me some macaroni and cheese. I guess it makes me feel better on the front of the peanut butter thing, it says like a healthy a spoonful is a healthy addition to every diet. And like, I had a spoon star like this and I was like, do you think this is what they mean by a spoonful?
So I'm watching Downton Abbey and. You know how when you using television or movie and it's over, you don't want it to be over, so you start like Googling the actors and looking up where it was filmed. So I start doing that and I think who is president in the US during Downton Abbey time? So I, I, I do a search for Theodore Roosevelt, 1910. And the quote that came up changed my life, and it's the daring greatly quote, It's not the critic who counts, it's not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The critic belongs to the person who's in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who in the end may know the triumph of high achievement. But when he fails, he does so daring greatly. And so three things totally shifted in my life that moment, the first was that's who I want to be. If we want to be courageous and we want to be in the arena, we're going to get our butts kicked.
There is no option if you want to be brave and show up in your life, you're going to fail, you're going to stumble, you're going to fall, it's part of showing up. The second thing that came to me that was I think Steve thinks it's made me dangerous, which is this it's your it's your Twitter thugs, OK? The bottom line is this. If you are not in the arena, also getting your butt kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback.
The Twitter thugs, you know, I think there are a lot of cheap seats in this community, in this world where you can sit back, never risk anything, and just throw criticism at people who are trying. You know, and the last one is this is everything I've learned about vulnerability over 12 years of studying vulnerability is not about winning. It's not about losing. It's about having the courage to show up and be seen. It's about willingness to say, look.
I don't have all the answers. This is daring greatly for me. I'm wearing false eyelashes. And my biggest fear when they put them on was like, am I going to get halfway through this day and be like, I can't do it? And if you do, just rip the whole thing off. That's happened to me before. I just rip them both off. And there you are naked before you make it here today. Yes. So, I mean, I think, you know, people tell me all the time, I don't want to be vulnerable.
I don't want to do this because I can't bear this. And I think being vulnerable feels dangerous, and I think it feels scary and I think it is terrifying, but I don't think it's is dangerous. Scary or terrifying is getting to the end of our lives and wondering what if I would have shown up? What if I would have said that, I mean that, yeah, yeah, so that to me is what daring greatly is. All right.
So this is the thing I think most people don't understand when you hear this for the first time, how being open and vulnerable and all the things that you all told us, because we did a prep questions for everybody, we called it lab prep and asks like a million of you to respond. And these were your responses. I love this one, Bernie, baring your soul without any guarantees. So I think that most people don't understand how being open, opening yourself up to criticism, to not having any guarantees, how that can help you.
How, if I could have called it daring, dammit, the book, I would have called Gary, damn it, I would have called it, I would have called it that because it feels terrible, right? Like the person who told me, it's saying, I love you first. Yeah. It's a great story, this guy came up to me was probably twenty one or twenty two and he said, Can I tell you something? It was after an event and I said, sure.
And he goes, You're Ted. Talks changed my life. My parents sent them to me. And after I watched them, I decided to tell the woman that I was dating, that I loved her. I was like, oh, God. Awesome. And he said, so I took her out to dinner. We've been dating for six months. We got halfway through dinner. I looked up at her and I said. I love you. And she looked back and she said, I think you're awesome.
Oh, and I think we should date other people. And he said, so the whole way home, I'll have to edit this the whole way home, he said, I just drove saying it's gruppioni Brown, I hate your neighbor, I hate Britney Brown. And he said he got home and he threw the door to his apartment open and both his roommates were hunched over their laptops and they kind of set straight up and they're like, what's that?
And guess I told her I loved her. She blew me off. And one of his friends said, dude, that girl's only like you when you're running the other way. And he was like, Yeah, that's what. And then he said he thought about it for a minute and he said, no, man, I was daring greatly. And he said both of his roommates got really teary eyed and went right on, man. So I think I think it is hard, but what is the alternative?
The alternative is to live a life that's not authentically yours. Now, I was going to tell you earlier, because all the people who followed me for years know the story of when I was first starting out with television. And I was pretending to be like Barbara Walters because that was the role model. And I was just trying to sit like Barbara, talk like Barbara, Barbara. And one night I was reading some copy and my idea was to not to read it ahead of time because I wanted to be spontaneous.
So I'd be reading the news and go, oh my God, six people at a pilot's. Unbelievable. Yeah, so that could get you in trouble because you haven't prepared and you don't know the names of the people. So I was doing all these readings of copy and I called Canada, Canada literally that. Hello, Canada. And I cracked myself up and that was my breaking through the wall to start to be myself because Barbara Walters would never call Canada, Canada and learning to to be myself.
And the reaction to that, people responding to that in such a way that allowed me to be a real person really opened the door for me. And I think the vulnerable thing has always been, that's a space where I live. You tell the story, you offer it to people, they accept it. They don't. That's OK. That's OK. That's OK. And I think what you said I mean, I think vulnerability begets vulnerability. Courage begets courage.
So when you're sitting with someone being vulnerable. Yeah, it's permission for me to be myself to. Absolutely, perhaps. So let's talk about the myths, about accountability. So there are four myths that you talk about. There are. Yes.
And these are these are the things that keep us. These are the things that get in the way. And I think the things that we all believe in. And the first myth is that vulnerability is weakness, just a show of hands. How many of you were raised to believe that vulnerability was weakness? Most of us, right? Fifth generation Texan family motto, of course, lock and load. It wasn't lock and get in touch with your animal spirit.
It was, you know, let's just get stuffed. Suck it up. How many of you were raised with it will suck it up. Get her done. Soldier on. Yeah, right. How you feel is not as important as getting stuff done. Yeah, right. So we I think a lot of there's here's the here's what's tricky about this myth. In a culture. Where we're afraid that we're not enough, it is hard to believe that vulnerability is courage, it is hard to show up and be seen when we are afraid.
Let's see what everybody else said eligibility is. Let's go to the first one. This is this is vulnerability feels like so and vulnerability.
I grew up thinking vulnerability was something to get rid of the road to failure. Scary, not allowed only for children. Unacceptable. Giving away too much. Giving away too much. I think that's interesting.
Yeah. So the first myth that vulnerability is weakness and this is how most of us were raised. But let me tell you what we heard. When we asked people what is vulnerability, what they said to us is vulnerability is sitting with my wife, who has stage four breast cancer and making plans for our kids vulnerability, is negotiating a raise with my boss. Vulnerability is vulnerability is the first kiss. Vulnerability is leaning in and saying, I love you.
Vulnerability is talking to hospice about my father. You know, vulnerability. Is a lot of this, but it's truthfully just living authentically, it's just being honest about where we are. OK, that's great.
My question is, can we bring vulnerability into the workplace and if so, how?
Oh. Oh, you got a. Yeah, OK, now I think so what's interesting is what we do every day is we wake up, we put a bunch of armor on and we go out into the world with this idea is you're not going to see me, you're not going to hurt me and you're not going to get to me. The problem is that the armor keeps away everything that we want more of. If you're talking about organizations, vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, trust, engagement.
And so here's the bottom line, if you if you have a culture in your organization where vulnerability is not tolerated, then you need to take innovation off of the list of things that you want to do, because when failure is not an option, innovation is not an option. Wow.
You learn more from the failures than you do from the evidence. Surely do. Absolutely. Yeah, but I hear what this group is saying, though.
You just you know, you come to this life class, you are going to do the online work and you're just all open and vulnerable. And then you walk into your workspace and everybody else who hasn't taken the class. How how do you integrate that into into your daily life and work without looking like you lost your mind that you have just like. Isn't that what you want to know? Yeah, that's what I heard. Exactly. Yeah.
So here's the beginning, the beginning of shared information. So you could say, hey, you should go to your leadership team. Would it be I mean, one of the reasons I get invited to go in is because somebody somewhere courageous, like you said, I would really like for this team to spend eight minutes and watch this TED talk. I would really like for this group to sit down and watch this episode of Life Class. I want to have a discussion because without shared information and shared language, there can be no change.
Right. You absolutely right about that.
So here we are. We're out to prove to you that vulnerability. Opening the heart space is what allows you to move forward in your life in a more authentic way. So the second myth is I don't do vulnerability. Yeah, here's the thing. If you're alive, you're vulnerable. If you're in relationship with anyone, you're vulnerable every minute of the day. We get that right. To be human is to be vulnerable. Yeah. So you can't opt out.
And here's the tricky part. If you don't know how you behave and what you do when you're feeling vulnerable, then you're probably engaging in behaviors that move you away from who you want to be. If you don't know how you do vulnerability, then vulnerability is doing you well.
You don't want vulnerability and bad you. No, you don't want vulnerability to, do you?
You want to do vulnerability. And I think it's hard because I think it's. It's easier to tell people that they should be vulnerable than to be vulnerable. Absolutely. I like what Malakia Garrett is saying up there. Hi, Malenka. She says, yes, it's all this is, but our society has no tolerance or patience for vulnerability. Do you agree? I think we're hungry for it. I think we're dying for it. Because vulnerability is the door to connection and authenticity, and I think and I think we're so sick of the hustle.
Yeah. I think people want to see real yeah, even if it's flawed and imperfect and messy, I think we'll take real any day. I think we would.
Aren't we sick of the hassle? So vulnerable is letting it all that's a myth, right? That's a yes, that's a myth. Live tweeting your bikini wax is not vulnerability. Sharing intimate details about your personal life on Facebook, not vulnerability. Vulnerability is about trust and intimacy and connection we share with people who've earned the right to hear the story. Oh, that's good. Tweet that right now that is so good. We share with people who've earned the right to hear the story.
Yes, in my job everybody doesn't do vulnerability. I'm a police officer, detective, and that's something that we do. We put our armor on when we go to work. So this is interesting to bring it to the daring greatly in the vulnerability to the workplace, because it actually is a myth that you can't be vulnerable in our profession. I believe that a lot of officers would benefit from daring greatly and being a little more vulnerable, especially as it relates to when they get off of work.
Yeah, it's a huge issue. And let me to I mean, first of all, thank you for what you do. Yeah, I mean, it's important. One of the things that I've seen a lot in my work when I'm talking to law enforcement, military. Firefighters is basically you've got men and women who we we basically pay to keep us safer by being invulnerable, but the costs are so high because if you look at just a police officers, suicide, depression, alcoholism, all of those things that we use when we don't have access to our vulnerability.
And so we have to find a way in those professions for people to. And I understand the equation is very simple equation a lot of times for law enforcement, military, which is vulnerability equals death, you know, and so I'm armored because that's how I stay alive. The problem is that when you're sitting across from your three year old and your partner, you know, vulnerability equals divorce, separation and isolation. Down, shut down. Yeah, you know what?
I look at it as what I know. I'm so very clear about what my role is and so grateful to have you and all of you here on this platform call home. You know, it's called a television network. But my real role in life is to open the heart space. And as I was sitting here talking to you, I realized opening the heart space is the same thing as being vulnerable. And when you open the heart space, you allow the possibility for the real you to step forward.
And that's really what vulnerability is. It's opening up the heart space so that the way you see yourself in the way you see the rest of the world allows you and the reflections of you to be more authentic. Somebody just wrote, how do you recover when you've made a wrong choice, though? When you've been vulnerable, you've opened the hearts, but you've shared with somebody who you shouldn't have shared with. You're opening up yourself to somebody who you shouldn't.
How do you recover from that? I usually contemplate moving first personally, and then I go straight to discrediting that person with everybody I know. Yeah, but I try not to act on those. You know, the truth is, when you practice being vulnerable and you practice opening the heart space, you are going to screw it up. You're going to walk away from a situation thinking, oh, that was too much too soon. Yeah, and I think what you do what I try to do is this is why self compassion is huge.
In those moments when I have overshared, I try to talk to someone like I try to talk to myself, like I would talk to someone I love. I said, you know what? You're trying something on your new at it. You're not going to nail it every time. It's OK. Learn from it and move forward. Scaping skypan from Germany, Annerley. Hello, Germany. How are you? What's your question?
My question would be about trust. I was wondering how would you define trust? To me, I use the metaphor of a marble jar for trust and to have times to take a five minute story about trust. Five, three, two and a half. OK, go on. No, it's that my daughter came home. She was sobbing. She had been betrayed at school. And she said, I'll never trust anyone again. The girls in my class were laughing at me so hard that Miss BoCom, her teacher, was taking marbles out of the marble jar.
They had a jar where they would fill up the marbles when the class was making good choices and take them out. And she said, I'll never trust again. And I was like, Oh, my God, how do I talk to her about this? And I said, the marble jar. I said, trust is like a marble jar. You don't look at a friend the first time you meet them and share them everything because you share everything with them, because you have had no time with smaller pieces of your life to build that marble jar, you know?
So I'm not going to meet you and say, here's my darkest secret. The question about trust is important. You want to show people your heart, but you don't know what's under there. For me, that would be a very small group of people that could do that exploration with me. There are some people that once I know what's under there, I'll say, hey, I trust you. Look at take a look. But if I'm going, hey, I don't know what's in here, you have to love me, not despite my imperfection and vulnerability, but because of it.
OK, listen, before we can go it alone. I think it's what we've been talking about since we've been together is this idea like, OK, I'll try vulnerability, but I'm going to try it by myself.
You know, yeah, I got to see of my bathroom. Yes, yeah, the bottom the bottom line is if you if you boiled everything down, I've learned over the past dozen years studying these topics, it would be simply this. We are hardwired for connection. In the absence of love and belonging. There is always suffering and the path to love and belonging is vulnerability, you can't have love. How many of you love somebody and how many of you have control over whether that person loves you back?
I'm hanging out with you. Oh, yeah. How many of you have control over that person's safe right now?
To wake up and love somebody every day is the most inherently vulnerable act to lay yourself out there like that without any guarantees.
I love Jennifer McCall, who just wrote to us once we make our transformation, how do we maintain and how do we stay focused? Because all of this sounds good. It's like going to church and you hear a really great sermon and you're like, oh, I'm going to live.
Right. Hallelujah, vulnerability, and then the first thing that comes along, you shut yourself down. So how do you stay focused? How do you stay on the path? You show up every Sunday whether you have something to wear, nice or not, you do.
Vulnerability is a practice you just keep, it's it's not something you check off a list, it's something you keep doing. Yeah. What you want to. One of the ways I practice it was really hard to get my husband engaged in this with me, but I've been married twenty eight years and the most loving thing he has done for me is listen to your audio seminar on the power of vulnerability.
That's the most loving thing he's ever done. It is why you take what you can get, I said. Now, I mean, let me let me give her some credit, it's six hours long. Oh, is it? It's six hours long. We did it in. We have a talk show, so I was in it together in the car, listen to it together and we pause and we stop and we we shared really vulnerable moments that we haven't shared for twenty eight years.
And it was amazing. Thank you. OK, that is good. OK, I take it back, I take it that was great. Yes, you had your head for a long time, so I kind of have the opposite problem, how do you make yourself be vulnerable with somebody you don't completely trust, like in a relationship? You don't? Gosh, yes, you don't.
I don't think you do. Because you know what? This is it. What's under here? Is the most valuable thing you have. It's the most valuable gift you give to all of us. It's the most valuable offering you have in your life, and people have to earn the right to see it. They have to earn the right to see it and they have to know when they're seeing it, that it's an absolute honor and privilege for you to have let them in.
And so that to me is the prerequisite. You got that right? I do. You're too pretty in that yellow to not get that. Really? Yeah, they have to know. Yeah, yeah. Someone else had written on here earlier. What if you're being vulnerable and the other person doesn't sees it as a weakness, but if you're being vulnerable, you're opening up your heart and the other person thinks that's weak of you. You are with the wrong person.
It's an awesome filter. It's an awesome filter, isn't it? It's a really awesome filter. I mean, I think it's just recently when my daughter started school, I was talking. I was like, I'm watching all the girls, like, posture and like you, who's going to who's going to be the alpha girl? But then you look at the mothers and they're all posturing, who's you got that right? And I was talking to someone and I was like, oh, you had one last year.
Like, there is like a whole week where every day I give the grandkid the wrong lunch and half the time and she looks at me. She has. I don't think I've ever had that experience, and I was like off the list, baby, that just. Next, yeah. Yeah, it's just I think it can be painful for sure. Here's what's scary and we should not be asking you about this. You start trying this on. There will be a push back.
Yeah. You're going to freak out some people. You're going to scare some people. The pushback will be, what are you doing? We had a deal. You keep this closed. I keep this closed. That was our deal. And now you're wanting to do this. And it's only going to work if I do this. This is transformational stuff. And so to say that if you went out and started try being authentic and vulnerable and there won't be any pushback from the people around you, I think is an unfair setup.
Hi, Bernie. My question is, what do you do if you want to be vulnerable with someone and they won't go there with you, especially if that person is your spouse? Well, that is what we're talking about right now. I mean, I think it's really hard. We can laugh about it, we can say there's the filter, but if it's someone you really love, I mean, I think counseling. I have a therapist. She got her husband.
It's the most loving thing he ever did to watch listen to six hours.
I mean, I think really. Sometimes you got to get help for that with couples and families. I mean, that's just the bottom line. You got to get some help. The other thing is that I imagine, though, you're with someone, you're vulnerable there. You are ready to open up your heart space and they're all shut down. Yes. Do you want to live your life that way? No, but I was that person you were the shut down.
Oh, yes, yeah, yeah, I'm like Bonnie Brown. Always have an exit plan. Yeah. It goes back to the therapist once. Tell me, you know, your problem is he likes you so much more than you. Like you.
Oh. Oh. She's being herself. Can we get it? That is, yeah, so I think I was that person, so I wouldn't say, you know, if it's somebody you love, there's no way in the course of a relationship, whether it's your parent, whether it's your partner, your child, your adult child, there's no way that you're going to grow at the exact same rate and discover and transform at the same time. So we have to have ways to bring people aboard.
Yeah. You know, and I think one of the ways we bring people aboard again is shared information. I think you can turn to a partner and say, I taped this life class. It's forty three minutes, right? Yes. It's really important to me, and I think if that person doesn't have forty three minutes or 20 minutes for a TED talk or can I read this passage to you or this quote, then you've got a problem that probably needs some professional help.
And that's fair. I mean, how many of you think you want to be more vulnerable and dare greatly? How many of you are comfortable asking for help? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that was awesome then it sort of here asking for help from whom in it, right. How many of you had rather give help than ask for help? OK, so let me tell you let me just ruin this for you. When you cannot ask for help without self judgment, you are never really offering help without judgment.
So stand up and tell the truth. OK, let's hear that one again. I got to write that down. No, I hear it better when I read this one. This one was devastating for me because where am I? Social workers. Yes, hello. OK, so we're professional help givers. But how many of us are good at asking for it? Here's the bottom line, ready when you can not accept and ask for help without self judgment, then when you offer other people help, you are always doing so with judgment.
Usually always, because you have attached judgment to asking for help, and so one way I have got a lot of my worth for a lot of years was helping other people. Yeah. But I would never ask for help, which meant every time I was helping you, I was judging you. And I was when you extract worthiness for helping people, that's judgment. That's judgment. When you don't extract worthiness and you think I'm just helping you because one day I'm going to need help, that's connection.
That's vulnerability. Yeah, are you teaching tonight, girl, you teach tonight, like. So let's review some key points, vulnerability is not a weakness, vulnerability equals courage, really, because it's opening up the heart space, right.
I've never seen a single incidence in thirteen thousand pieces of data. I've never seen one example of courage that was not sheer vulnerability. I believe you, I believe that and only show your vulnerability with somebody who's earned the right to hear it. That's it, it's a privilege to see what's here. Final thought. It's going to take critical mass, yeah, it's going to take enough of us changing the way we engage with each other in the world to make a huge difference.
But I think it's absolutely positive. I think it's here's the thing. I don't think vulnerability. I think it's a practice. But I think more than anything, I think wholeheartedness, which is how I term vulnerability, is a movement. It's a revolution. And it's going to make people uncomfortable because change makes people uncomfortable. But I'll go back to what I said in the beginning is I do not think we ever feel more alive than when we're being brave.
And we can't be brave when we're not vulnerable. Thank you. I'm Oprah Winfrey and you've been listening to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast you can follow Super Soul on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. If you haven't yet, go to Apple podcast and subscribe rate and review this podcast. Join me next week for another super soul conversation. Thank you for listening.