Daring Greatly: Unlearn

I began reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly in the morning today.

I’m in the middle of the second chapter. A few of my impressions were so compelling I had to force myself away from the book so I could record them somewhere. Here they are:

1. When she talks of scarcity in the first chapter- the feeling she describes as a pervasive feeling of Not Enough- I sat still for many moments. Not Enough! There is never enough time, never enough talent, never enough persistence or focus, never enough energy! Those and many more were my personal Not Enoughs.

Another message I read somewhere yesterday talked of feeling successful. It said success was an outward benchmark. Your inner bench mark was a feeling of satisfaction. If you are satisfied with your life, you are successful. With a permanent feeling of Not Enough dogging your steps, where is the possibility of satisfaction taking root?

For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack… This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life.

~ Lynne Twist

2. I am amazed- again- of how lucidly and clearly she presents complex ideas (emotions are awfully tangled and complex, aren’t they?). The words she uses and the tone of her expressions is so precise and unambiguous. Reading her is a huge pleasure not only because of the heart-opening ideas she presents with such magnificent humility, but also because she writes so perfectly. I’d give anything to be able to present an intricate flow of thought in such a coherent and structured manner.

3. While on this, I also realized that all of us have our own language that we habitually think/ write and express in. Our habitual vocabulary is entirely indicative of our inner world. Not only do thoughts command your words, but the reverse is equally true. Looking at the words Ms Brown uses, I am impressed at the openness and simplicity of her inner world.

4. Her second chapter is on Vulnerability. Yes, the thing that makes us all squirm. When I read…

Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me.I am attracted by your vulnerability and repelled by mine.

~Brene Brown

… I was stunned. I sat reading those two lines over and over. My eyes remained on them while my mind raced furiously, full throttle.

One of the things that truly impresses me about people is their courage. I am captivated when I see the way people stand up and let themselves be seen even when they are terribly afraid and insecure. It humbles me to see how people own up to their less-than-perfect attempts at something they’ve been striving for. I admire people who confess to feeling inadequate and fearful when they face challenges… and who  went forward anyhow. Their courage met with a breakthrough at times but as often met with yet another set back. But they still did not quit.

It is one thing to write your success story after you’ve won. You can speak of your failures then. They aren’t a poor reflection of you because the spotlight of success is already upon you.

But to talk of your failures when you are still miles away from your goal, that’s true courage. To speak of those hopes and dreams which you have no way of knowing if they will ever be realized, that is courage. It isn’t easy to confess your vulnerability- even to yourself, let alone to others. And to confess it without a trace of pity for yourself, without turning yourself in a sad little alm-bowl… I can’t even begin to scale the height of my awe for such people.

And yet.

While I find these people worthy of veneration, I don’t try to emulate their courage. To confess to vulnerability or to display it, is an anathema to me. Ever analytical, specially of my own reactions and responses, I wondered why that was so. Was it pride? Was it a shoddy need for keeping up appearance in front of the world? Was it a protection mechanism created to ensure I did not appear weak so that the vultures would leave me alone?

My only talent which aids such a session of self-analysis, perhaps, is that I never lie to myself. I am capable of raw, brutal honesty in my conversations with myself. And now that I have learned to treat myself with compassion and empathy, the brutal honesty works wonders.

No, it wasn’t pride. I’ve never let people’s opinion stop me from doing what I thought was my place to do, so it wasn’t a need for keeping up appearances either. It was, I had to admit, something of a protection mechanism. But more than anything else, it was because I abhor pity in any form. I don’t want to be clucked over while people call me a poor darling. The thought is maddening. So maddening that I am seething as I type this.

Having reached here in my ruminations, I wondered what to do. Keeping my vulnerability under wraps isn’t frightfully desirable. Apart from everything else, I’m missing out on a whole truckload of admiration! I’ll have to do something about it!

Time to Unlearn a few things!

Note: This would be a series. I will be recording the most arresting thoughts that the book provokes in me. If you have read the book, please do share your impressions too. If you haven’t, why not read it with me? I would be so much fun, wouldn’t it?

Daring Greatly- First Impressions
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Daring Greatly: Unlearn

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8 thoughts on “Daring Greatly: Unlearn”

  1. Oh. I feel talking of the bumps you get along the way to the journey is important. It gives the other person some idea of how to go past that bump should they encounter it someday, and if they tell of the bumps they have faced, you get an idea of what to do should you encounter that bump in your journey. After all, it’s not necessary that the bumps should be in the same order for everyone, right? It’s also a small bit of inspiration for yourself. You hear yourself tell that you overcame an obstacle. That that failure didn’t deter you from moving forward. Unless and until that bump is spoken of as a stopping point, then each failure and each bump is a stepping stone to the eventual goal. 🙂

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with you on the entire ‘bumps’ theory. When you share your journey, you not only inspire but also teach; you not only give courage by example you also mentor without knowing it.

      Thank you for that insightful comment Vinay!

  2. Danny, this book is what I need to read, thank you so much for sharing. The Not enough and inner vocabulary and that quote on vulnerability – all speak to me. Thanks again.

    1. I am so happy you could connect with this post. And you surely must read the book… or one of her earlier books. Her work is heart-opening and deeply validating. She is truly my inspiration!

      Good to see you here after long!

  3. I loved reading this post for many reasons. But mostly because it gave me a peek into how you ‘read’ 🙂 No, seriously. I am humbled to see how you allow the author’s words to become a stepping stone into a deep session of self-reflection and self-knowing. Thank you for this inspirational post, and for the message that reading can be a great way to “unlearn”.

    1. But this is exactly the way you read too! We haven’t talked about it, but the way you write of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s work, it is obvious that you too read like that.

      For me it is deliberately learned behavior. Many years ago, when I read, the running thought in my mind would be- “Who will this be useful for? Whom can I tell about this so that they can transform their life?”

      And one day I asked myself why I was being an absolute imbecile! My job was to transform myself first and only then think of teaching it to others. That day and that moment is stored in my memory as vividly as a photographic plate. It totally changed the way I was reading… with very happy results. 😀 😀

  4. Nothing fails like failure. While I have obviously flipped over the popular saying, I mean to say exactly that. How many accounts of failures do we get to read about along the path of our lives? Sometimes the vulnerability is not exactly a deficiency within. It can be a deficiency of the outside world. You might say it is a defence mechanism of sorts, or denial at worst, but when I don’t conform to the trend of spilling even the obscenely trivial garbage at thundering speeds I am trying to spare the landfill of Blogdom and hence lose Alexa points. I don’t know.

    1. I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that the deficiencies of the outside world are responsible for some of the failures. I agree with your opinion particularly in the context of the blogdom. You and I sail in the same boat there, as you must have noticed. I too refuse to generate trivial garbage. To me this online home of my soul is a haloed place. I can’t litter it with garbage and consecrate it with unworthy writing.

      As for Alexa points… no evaluation system has the right to tell me how good I am at doing something that is born in my soul. I care not for Alexa points, and I’m certain you don’t either.

      Your comment gave me deep solace. You’ve no idea how much. Thank you!

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