Daring Greatly: risking being vulnerable to live fully

I just started reading Dr. Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly and it brought me to times in my life where I was aware of either not daring, being in fear, or on the contrary, daring, taking risks or noticing others who were risking enormous vulnerability.  The one instance that comes to my mind happened during a course I was attending in Chicago, as part of my Master’s program.  Can’t remember the title of the course, but early maybe the first day, we had an exercise to do:  walk around the room, all of us students, and simply look at each other’s face, no word to be exchanged – after that part of the exercise, we were to share something personal with one person.  Again, I can’t remember what I shared but the man who was my partner first shared something personal that I can’t remember.  And then he stopped laughing and said there was something else, and he shared having become sober after an episode where he found himself drunk and having suffered very deep shame for something that happened during his drunken episode.  Although this class happened more than 20 years ago, I can still feel the respect I had for him for sharing something so deep and personal with me. I was so touched that I can still see him in my mind.

Daring Greatly defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure and talks about one big topic of Fearless Living and how we spin on our Wheel of Fear every time we fear, and believe we are not good enough.  Not pretty enough, not rich enough, not intelligent enough or any other enough you may think about yourself.  Dr. Brown makes the link between shame (fear) and our difficulty to risk being vulnerable.  No place is more blatant than in romantic relationships.  Everybody has heard about the teenager who, afraid to be rejected by the popular kid never risks being rejected, one of the most painful emotions, especially if one already feels not good enough.

Fear’s job is to keep us safe,  away from vulnerability.  Safe not only physically but especially emotionally and that’s where Fear causes the most damage.   Fear does not recognize stuck.   If you have been bullied before, your reptilian brain remembers because that’s where fear lives.   If you have a history of abandonment, it will make you afraid to initiate or join with others. Fear will show up as justifications why you don’t want to go out tonight, or take a chance on love, or try that new job.  It will give you all kind of evidence why.  You will find all kinds of excuses why your life is the way it is.  Your work, your upbringing, the economy, the city you live in, your partner, your boss, your landlord, the weather, your weight, maybe your height and the color of your eyes.  Anything to keep you from taking a risk.  Fear is very good at it’s job and unless you learn to uncover it, it will keep on running your life.

This being said, when was the last time you risked being vulnerable?  Vulnerable feels really scary, so it’s easy to remember.  Being vulnerable also makes you unforgettable – which explains why I remember the gentleman in the story above.  Vulnerability can show up in many ways, not just in love.  It can be about doing something for the first time, taking a business risk, not agreeing with the group, asking for something, telling the truth, saying no, standing up for yourself, apologizing and many, many other ways.

If you feel Fear is so present in your life that you won’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, and you are serious about making changes, call me at 613-744-1538 during regular business hours so we can have a 45 minutes free conversation to help you move forward and help you decide if coaching is for you.


Marguerite Tennier, M.A.,

Passionate Living: Live, Love and Succeed Fearlessly




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