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Brené Brown nearly got me killed today
Monday 23rd January 2017 @ 11:00 am

There are some things which are worth remembering and often the best way for me to hold something is for me to share it.

Brené Brown nearly got me killed this morning.*

(*by got me killed, please read ‘probably not, but an ankle injury or broken arm was a definite possibility’)

It’s Monday. I’m still slightly jet–lagged so I wake up before 6am. Yes, I know, normal people often wake up this time. But for me, that’s a good 90mins–2hrs early, but still better than the 5 hours early of last week.

I digress.

Given the extra time to acclimatize to the week, I made full use of it. I read. Meditated. Had a long shower. And thought I would check my Audible options – “yes – free credit – what other Brené Brown book can I listen to?”

I’ve been loving her work. For those uninitiated she is a shame and vulnerability researcher and writer – and for a Northern Irish shame protestant, who lives in Catholic guilt Ireland these topics are the breath of life.

I began the 40min walk to my breakfast meeting. I choose to walk because when I drive the car in Dublin rush–hour traffic I become a weak version of the person I desire to be … so I’m using tactics … walking a lot is one of those tactics. I put on the headphones and I was delighted to hear that Brené herself actually presents this one – ‘The Power of Vulnerability.’ Her work is just better when she is the one talking about it.

In everything that she writes, Brené draws me in. I find myself heartened by her work, and also brilliantly challenged with the parts I don’t agree with, because I have to honestly go into a thoughtful place to ask myself why I would disagree with something … that happened this morning.

She has a definition of love that ends wobbily for me. Part of her final clause is that in order to truly love others, you have to truly love yourself. It sounds excellent, but I know that I used to think the same … and so I press pause to ask myself why this is irking me, and why I changed my mind …  and so my brain presses go …

… ‘can self–love not slip into self–centered too easily?’ …

… ‘surely the route to being able to love is knowing that you are loved? …

… ‘why did I change my mind when I used to think what she did?’ …

… ‘love is cyclical and spiral and jaunty and bumpy – this thinking is too linear for me to really hold onto in any big ……



… which naturally disturbed my train of thought.


A verbally violent younger female had, quite correctly, come through the green bus light … and I, quite incorrectly, had stepped out to cross the road seeing there were no busses in sight, but because of Brené Brown making me think, this small violent woman had missed me by inches. Totally my fault. I raised my hand and got ready to say sorry, but the torrent of verbal abuse had cycled on, and wasn’t looking back.

I was embarrassed, annoyed and angry … the things that Brenéwould tell me are perfect signposts to shame. She was right.

What was more interesting to me, is that Brené would also be able to guess my reaction. Ninety seconds later, when I was crossing another road, and had I stopped because a car was coming toward me, the guy beside me walks out in front of the car causing it to stop, I immediately want to chastise him and in an angry tone confront him, ‘what do you think you’re doing – you trying to cause an accident, *****?!?” 

Turns out I don’t need to be in a car to be unreasonable and angry.

Obviously I didn’t say anything – I just stewed in my own self–righteousness. 

However, what was actually happening, is that I was totally stewing in my own reaction to my being shamed two minutes before. 

My reaction to doing something stupid, is that I was stupid. I immediately became defensive and superior. I reacted to feeling small by wanting someone to be smaller. I reacted to anger by becoming angry. I reacted to my own stupidity by seeing the stupidity in others.

A year ago, before I had read any Brené  – I’m not sure I would have been able to put that thought process together, and take some steps to make some transformation.


Yup – she nearly got me killed, but she is also helping me achieve a deeper and broader life … funny how those things often go together. 



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