Five Kick-ass Authors Who Write About Shame, Vulnerability and Wholehearted Living (Who Are Not Brené Brown)

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I love me my Brené Brown.

From that first TED talk, I was smitten. My admiration grew deeper as I read each of her groundbreaking books. And of course my commitment was sealed when I flew to San Antonio two years ago to become a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator.

Can you blame me? The woman has become a leading voice in the growing global conversation about the power of shame and the practice of vulnerability to create a “wholehearted” life.

However, there are definitely other voices out there contributing to the shame-resilience conversation: Remarkable writers who bring their own unique lens, language and practices to the themes of shame, vulnerability and wholehearted living.

Looking for a fresh perspective on the topic? Look no further! Over the next five weeks, I’m going to introduce you to five kick-ass authors whose books need to be on your bookshelf. Get ready to build your summer reading list!

I begin with…

Tara Brach, Ph.D.,  Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

This book is for you if: You’re into meditation, mindfulness, and the teachings and practices of Buddhism 

To me, Tara Brach is the Buddhist-Buddy of Brené Brown. I absolutely adore the writing of Tara Brach, and feel that her books bring a sacredness and spirituality to shame-resilience work that Brené’s books don’t quite capture.

In Radical Acceptance, Brach calls shame the “trance of unworthiness” and explains that, “trapped in this trance, we are unable to perceive the truth of who we really are.” The book touches on perfectionism, numbing, self-criticism, scarcity and fear… and then beautifully describes the path to freedom from these sufferings.

 

“Brach writes with such warmth and clarity that

you’ll feel like she’s your own personal Buddhist teacher

guiding you to self-love and acceptance.”

 

What I especially love about Radical Acceptance are the meditation exercises Brach has sprinkled throughout the book, offering these as practices to build shame-resilience. They are beautifully written and easy to follow, even if you don’t practice meditation.

Tara Brach writes with such warmth and clarity that you’ll feel like she’s your own personal Buddhist teacher guiding you to self-love and acceptance. And, if you fall in love with her writing, you can also follow Tara Brach’s work through weekly podcasts that feature her speaking to large groups and leading meditations.

Interesting tid-bit: Radical Acceptance was published in 2003, a full four years before Dr. Brown published her first book on shame (I Thought It Was Just Me)!

 

Have you read Radical Acceptance? Love it or not-so-much? Tell me what you think of it in the comments section below or on my Facebook Page. Or, if you plan to read it, remember to come back to my Facebook Page when you’re done to tell me what you thought of it. Happy reading!

 

 

Why We Are At War With Ourselves

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In preparation for the last Dose of Daring call I hosted on March 27, I had spent some time re-reading Tara Brach‘s amazing book, Radical Acceptance and listening to her podcast episode, Freedom From Fear-based Beliefs. Brach is so inspiring and I love her compassionate, mindful invitation for us to “stop being at war with ourselves”.

Brené Brown always talks about how we’re hardwired for connection, and how this hard-wiring automatically generates a deep, painful fear within us of being disconnected and unloved by others. The thing that is hard to understand is why we opt for self-hatred at these moments of pain, fear and vulnerability, and not self-compassion. It was Tara Brach’s teachings that really helped me understand what this hard-wiring is all about and why we universally default to judging and berating ourselves – instead of showing ourselves compassion and kindness – when we feel vulnerable.

On the one hand, Brach explains that it has been part of our very survival for our brains to have a negativity bias. We naturally pay attention to what’s wrong and not what’s right. Our early ancestors used this negativity bias in order to avoid being killed: if anyone stopped to relax and enjoy what was right and good in their lives, they’d likely be killed and eaten by the closest lion, tiger or bear. Our brains have simply evolved to focus on the negative and make it unavoidable for us to not notice to the bad stuff. It brings to mind the warning cry of Grug from the 2013 animated film, The Croods: “Never not be afraid!”

On the other hand, as another apparatus of survival, we “sort for differences”. This was how our ancestors knew who to trust or not trust as part of their tribe. Those who are like us can be trusted; those who aren’t must be a danger to our very survival. It was as true then as it is today that we also sort for differences within ourselves: those parts of our being that make us different (and potentially unlovable) from others threaten our belonging in a group and must be hidden away lest we get booted out. Better to only show those parts of ourselves that guarantee our membership in the tribe.

You see, people? This stuff is ingrained in us! No wonder we’re all culpable for listening to our gremlins, keeping ourselves small (and safe) and talking ourselves out of Daring Greatly. Brach explains that “staying on top of what’s wrong with us gives us the sense that we are controlling our impulses, disguising our weaknesses and possibly improving our character.” The problem here is that beating ourselves up actually reinforces our insecurities and deepens the neural pathways that generate our feelings of inadequacy. We can’t embrace love and belonging if we continue to question our own worthiness.

And why is important to know this? Because by understanding that a lot of our suffering stems simply from the way our brains are built, we can avoid feeling that extra layer of unworthiness and badness when we catch ourselves engaging in negative self-talk. You know those times when you beat yourself up for beating yourself up? (Psst… remember the crazy concentric circles in my last post?) Don’t do it! Remember that you’re just beautifully hardwired for survival.

So, if we can get over beating ourselves up for beating ourselves up, that’s a good start. But we have to go a little further down the road of self-compassion and mindfulness to really start to heal ourselves and get to that place of truly believing ourselves worthy of love and belonging. That’s what I’ll unpack  in my next blog post.

For now, I’ll leave you with this lovely intention from the Buddha and I encourage you to repeat it to yourself often as a prayer or mantra:

Like a caring mother

Holding and guarding the life

Of her only child,

So with a boundless heart

Hold yourself and all beings.

My next Dose of Daring will be held on Friday April 24 at 12pm (Eastern Time). On this call, we’re going to stay with the theme of self-compassion, and look at how practicing self-kindness is NOT the same thing as self-indulgence and is, in fact, an absolutely precondition to serve the world and live the life you were meant to lead.

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