Author, professor shares on national television
Graduate School of Social Work professor and best-selling author Brené Brown and Oprah Winfrey explored on Sunday the importance of staying true to oneself and embracing one’s imperfections using Brown’s dozen years of research.
The two women bounced back and forth with their individual “ah-ha” moments throughout the Super Soul Sunday show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The Emmy Award-winning weekly show aims to provide viewers with a spiritual and thought-inspiring conversation with prominent self-help professionals.
“I wanted a place for people to go every Sunday to wake up,” Winfrey said. “It’s thought-provoking, eye-opening and inspiring. It’s food for your soul — every single Sunday.”
Brown more than qualifies to be on the show, having headlined on multiple news sites and talk shows, such as CNN.com and “Katie.”
Her career didn’t launch with her best-selling book, “Daring Greatly,” or the two books she authored before it.
Brown made a name for herself after appearing in the Houston TED-X talks in 2010, where she said she was going to make herself vulnerable on stage. She shared how throughout her research, and she discovered she wasn’t measuring up to her own conclusions. This drove her to a breakdown, landing her in therapy.
“I remember thinking, ‘I just, like, admitted to being crazy in front of 500 people,’” Brown said.
It wasn’t only 500 people that listened to Brown discuss her research and how this research drove her to her own therapy sessions. More than 8 million people viewed her talk on YouTube.
The TED-X experience and its success had a negative repercussion on Brown. She said the adverse comments on the internet put her into a state of depression. However, during her sadness, she stumbled upon a Theodore Roosevelt quote about “daring greatly,” which was to title her next book.
“To me, (daring greatly) means having the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen, to ask for what you need, to talk about how you’re feeling, to have the hard conversations.”
Brown, while experienced in book writing, educating and knowing her own self-worth, said on the show even she struggles to follow her own advice when it comes to being herself and not a perfectionist.
This discussion led Winfrey to what she said was a huge “ah-ha” moment she couldn’t keep inside.
“I had never gotten this before I read (the book), that perfectionism is the ultimate fear that the people who are walking around as perfectionists, that they are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for what they really are and they won’t measure up,” Winfrey said.
Brown said she agreed and it is something she struggles to stifle in herself.
“I’m, like, a recovering perfectionist,” Brown said. “For me, it’s one day at a time.”
Brown’s work centers on vulnerability, worthiness and shame. However, being vulnerable progresses you on the path to greater self-discovery, she said.
“I was raised that vulnerability is weakness, like most people,” Brown said.
Winfrey said her success in her near 30 years of experience is attributed to being vulnerable to her audience and on her shows.
Brown continued in saying people can’t have joy without being grateful for the joy something brings you.
“Because for 12 years of research, I have never interviewed a single person who talks about the capacity to really experience and soften into joy who does not actively practice gratitude,” Brown said.
Yet this joy can turn into something negative for people who don’t practice being vulnerable.
“When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding,” Brown said.
Keeping this in her mind, Brown said her faith in God is what drives her the most to stay who she is.
“For me,” she said, “God is the divine reminder of our inherent worthiness.”