I Admit It: I Wanted Nothing to Do With Brené Brown’s Work

It’s true. I was an active resister of Brené Brown‘s TED Talk, books, blog and research. All of it.

One of my classmates from coaching school repeatedly introduced me to her work. All it took were the words shame and vulnerability for me to politely say some version of “thanks, but no thanks. I’ve done my work.”

Famous last words, right?

One afternoon my husband came home, took one look at me and said “are you okay?” I burst into tears. Note: This is NOT normal behavior for me.

I was feeling so defeated and dumbfounded about how to engage in a healthy way with my business partner. All my training and experience with conflict, communication and emotional intelligence wasn’t helping. Nothing was working. It was just getting worse. I had reached a breaking point.

My deepest darkest fear was surfacing: I’m not good enough. While I had experienced this in my personal life, I had mastered the dance of perfectionism in my professional life, which until then had worked pretty well.

My oh so wise husband suggested a trip to Barnes and Noble. Armed with a venti mocha and bulldog determination I marched myself right to the self help section. It didn’t take long for my eyes to lock on one sentence on the back of a beautiful blue book:

“the quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting.” 

It sure is I thought. I kept reading. It was like someone has described my strategy for life perfectly. Much to my dismay, it was Brené’s book I Thought It Was Just Me.

I remember whispering “okay, I give” to the universe.

It’s not an understatement to say this book changed my life. I devoured it within a day or two. Afterwards I watched, read, and signed up for anything and everything I could get my hands on from Brené.

Her work helped me in five big ways:

  • I realized I’m not alone (I really thought it was just me!)
  • I finally had a name for what I often felt and tried to avoid: shame
  • I gained clarity about who I am and how I want to be in the world
  • I learned a process for moving through shame in a healthy way
  • I’m now a recovering perfectionist

The switch from active resister to emphatic supporter is mostly based on the change and transformation I experienced personally, but also rooted in witnessing profound change and transformation in other people while facilitating Brené’s work in retreats and coaching relationships.

My journey with wholeheartedness, showing up fully, being brave and letting myself be seen and known is a constant work in progress. But I know this for sure: my life and the lives of others are better because of the work and research of Brené Brown.