This book kicked my butt.
If you want a book that’s going to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, this is not that book. If you want an easy self-help reader to take with you on vacation. This is not that book.
Brené Brown’s combination of research and anecdotes will make you uncomfortable, anxious, and even angry at yourself. It will drag you through the dirt and filth of your own inner workings, digging up long-dead traumas and embarrassments along the way. That’s called vulnerability.
The journey Brown takes you on is long, winding, and difficult, and the destination is uncertain. But that’s life. The most important endeavors are often the most challenging.
As a person who is averse to failure, feelings, and vulnerability (Enneagram Type 3), this book challenged me every step of the way. But I particularly appreciated her chapters on 1) a culture scarcity vs. abundance, 2) how men and women experience and process shame, and 3) parenting.
The scarcity mindset explains SO MUCH of what happens in our culture – from celebrities to sports to academics to the news and politics. Even reading this six years after its publication, the things Brown says about scarcity are every bit as relevant today. If anything, it’s gotten worse.
The chapter explaining the differences between men and women was both an “Aha!” moment and a “Duh!” moment. That’s what happens when someone finally puts into words what we’re all feeling but not talking about. My heart breaks for the women who constantly feel shamed for their looks, their tenderness, and their mothering. But I also have empathy for the men who fear being judged as incompetent or impotent. The shame felt from not being “manly” enough is a real threat to true masculinity.
Finally, her closing chapter on parenting is a MUST READ for parents – whether first time parents of a newborn or empty nesters. Vulnerability plays a huge role in Wholehearted parenting. We need to both model it and provide space for our children to be vulnerable, too. The section on hope and struggle was just fantastic.
I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone in a leadership position – parents, principals, pastors, and anyone who works with/for people. Take Brown’s message to heart, and it will touch nearly every aspect of your life.