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Vulnerability Is Strength

Guest Post by Joshua Lindenbaum

When one thinks of courage, they usually think about someone going into a burning building to save a person’s life; however, Dr. Brené Brown provides a unique, much-needed lens in which to view bravery in a broader sense in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. The writing is a beautiful concert of personal anecdotes alongside empirically-based research. Furthermore, Dr. Brown reveals not-so-flattering details about herself, and therefore lives the practices in which she details in her book. It is a lovely trident of logos, pathos, and ethos designed to pierce into the stubbornness of convention and tradition, especially amongst men who have been taught to not show emotions.

This incredibly organized text uproots widely-held beliefs, such as “vulnerability is weakness.” On the contrary, in her previous book The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brown declares, “vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” She defines ” . . .  vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” which comprises everyday life, especially during this pandemic. That’s what I think many readers will appreciate about her work: Brown manages to quantify concepts like vulnerability, shame, and even joy. She includes accounts from her own qualitative research alongside a panoply of reliable sources. In addition to providing background, there are also practical steps in, for example, fostering trust. For instance, there’s a section on “the marble jar,” a metaphor used to help us in assessing whether an individual is trustworthy or not based upon specific criteria. This approach allows one the ability to express themselves while also creating boundaries against those that don’t deserve our trust.

I know what you’re thinking: this sounds like a corny self-help book. You are wrong. It is a humanity book. Step into its pages!

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. Avery/Penguin Random House, April 2015.

Reviewer bio: Joshua Lindenbaum’s poetry has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Breadcrumbs, Yes Poetry, The Bangalore Review, Five:2:One, 3Elements ReviewTypishly, and elsewhere.

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