Book Review: Daring Greatly

This is a paid book review for the BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are mine.

What is vulnerability?

If you are like most people, you probably answered weakness.

But shame researcher Brene Brown argues in her new book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, that vulnerability is actually not weakness.  Instead, she says, "It's being all in."  It's showing up and allowing ourselves to be seen. It's daring to share our authentic selves, instead of hiding in shame. This ability to show up and be who we are is daring greatly (the title is taken from a Theodore Roosevelt quote).

Sounds a lot like what we as creatives, do, doesn't it?  Which is exactly why I wanted to review this book.  And Brown does have a section on creativity, which I read avidly.  Brown argues that shame is the opposite of vulnerability and its shame that we feel when our inner critic (she calls it a gremlin) gets activated and says things like, "Dare not! You're not good enough."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  We talk about variations on these themes all the time on this blog.  But I like Brown's approach of talking about the shame tapes that get played in our heads as we try to work.  She also reminds us that this shame may not even be the result of what we're currently doing, or the project we're working on: "Sometimes shame is the result of us playing the old recordings that were programmed when we were children, or simply absorbed from the culture."

There's more, so much more to this book, including discussions of narcissism (which is really just the fear of being ordinary), bullying, shame in our culture and how to parent in a daring greatly way.

It's a great read, with lots of thought-provoking ideas.

How about you?  Do you get consumed with shame when you are writing?  (We all do, some of just cope with it better than others.) How do you deal with it?

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4 Responses to Book Review: Daring Greatly

  1. J.D. 09/20/2012 at 04:49 #

    This week, I read something I wrote two years ago. Yuck! It was awful and I wonder how I ever put that on the page thinking it made a book. I am rewriting with a clothes pin on my nose. Shame? Oh, yeah. What a writer needs most–and it is a gift–is an eye that sees her work exactly as it is. If you can see it for what it is, you can fix it. Oh . . . I mean without waiting two years.

  2. Charlotte Dixon 09/20/2012 at 19:07 #

    And I think you need to work on being a bit easier with yourself, J.D.!  But you make a great point–we've all had that experience of reading work and being ashamed by it.  I know I have.  But part of Brown's point is that we all experience it but can learn to be resilient with it.  And one way to do that is to share feelings–which you just did.  So thank you.

  3. JKW 09/25/2012 at 03:58 #

    I write, then rewrite about 20 times and come back to the original which looks better than all the rewrites. Never satisfied with what I write. Thankfully, I have a critique group, not that they are always right either. It’s just a nice feedback. Blessings, Janet

  4. Charlotte Dixon 09/25/2012 at 06:02 #

    I know I've had that experience, where I rewrite and rewrite and then end up liking the original best!  It's crazy when that happens.  And yes, a critique group can help a lot.  Thanks for commenting.

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