I am a believer in things happening for a reason. For timing and life to come together in ways unbeknownst to us, ways that are just right. This August, while attending BlogHer in San Diego, I truly believe things came together for me in a magical way because, after hurriedly launching Just.Be.Enough., I met a woman who spoke the words that were buried down deep in my heart. A woman whose persona, whose entire being, exuded Just.Be.Enough. I met Dr. Brené Brown.
For those who have not had the pleasure or honor of hearing Brené speak, I highly recommend sitting down with a beverage, a box of tissues, and watching her TED talk.
Some might say I became obsessed, but I prefer to think of my obsession as a deeply seeded respect. Okay fine, maybe I am a groupie… But when Brené responded to my email and said she was willing to be interviewed because she loved what we were doing, well, I was in heaven. And as I sit here looking at her very own words on THIS site. I smile. I am thankful.
Here’s what she said in response to the Just.Be.Enough. team’s questions:
JBE: You’ve said living with our whole hearts requires practicing the courage it takes to own our stories and tell the truth about who we are. What small steps can people take to start doing that if they’re afraid to tell their stories?
BB: We’re often afraid to share our truths because we don’t want to be crushed under the weight of a single story. We don’t want to be defined by or reduced to our struggle. We are more complex than that. Our stories are a part of who we are, but they don’t define us. We want our stories to open up our connections, not shut us off. I think it’s important to share our stories with people who have earned the right to hear them. People who embrace our complexity and recognize that we are all made of strength and struggle. I am mindful when I choose my storycatchers.
JBE: After BlogHer there was a lot of talk about mean girls. Would be curious about your thoughts about why this “mean girls” thing happens in groups, especially when there are so many women. And would you be an advocate of calling people out on that behavior or just focusing on the Golden Rule?
BB: I write about this in I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ME. I think we often use gossip and badmouthing as a way to connect. There’s a juicy “you and me” connection that happens when we have a common enemy, a shared criticism, or a mutual annoyance. I often recommend that people try to redirect the conversation or try to find equally juicy topics to serve as a platform of connection. For example, if someone says, “Susie is so arrogant. I can’t stand her,” I think it’s more effective to respond with “I don’t really know her that well” or “That’s not my experience of her.” If you come back with a lecture on gossiping or negativity, it can put people on the defensive and that’s never helpful. I find that not participating in the mean girl stuff is the best way to advocate for kindness. It’s just not easy because we’re all hungry for connection and gossip cruelty is a quick, counterfeit fix.
JBE: How did you feel when you got up on stage to do your TED Talk?
BB: It was equal parts exciting and terrifying, which is the way I often feel when I speak. I really did think of it as a hometown crowd of friends. It NEVER occurred to me that 2 million people would eventually watch me talk about my breakdown/spiritual awakening. Had I known then…
JBE: What has been your biggest surprise as far as how people have reacted to your work?
BB: It’s always humbling when people connect with your work in a way that’s meaningful for them – I stay very, very grateful for that.
The biggest surprise has probably been my own reaction. I’m a very private person and truly an introvert, so there have been some growing pains.
I think the global response to the TEDx Houston talk made me aware of the tension of working hard to start a national conversation about vulnerability, shame, and worthiness, and at the same time working to stay right under the radar. Ironically, it’s been a very vulnerable experience.
JBE: How have you dealt with critics or skeptics of the idea of wholehearted living?
BB: I actually enjoy constructive debate and discussion. I don’t mind people questioning my work or my research, it’s the cruelty and mean-spiritedness that’s tough.
Most of the time I’m pretty good at ignoring the personal attacks – I have a lot of support. There are days, however, when I cry and I want to quit, OR I want to engage and kick someone’s ass (verbally, which I’m also pretty good at doing). I focus on the people who love me and the people who tell me the truth. And, I have Scott Stratten’s quote on my desk: “Don’t try to win over the haters. You’re not the jackass whisperer.” That really helps.
JBE: Do you have a preference between speaking engagements and writing?
BB: I feel so lucky to be able to do both. I love writing because I get to be at home – my sacred space. I love speaking because I like “talking my work” better than writing it. I’m still looking for the right combination – it’s been a process.
JBE: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
BB: Hopefully right here, where I am now, with my awesome husband and with my kids living a few blocks away. And grandkids (if that’s meant to be). They’re all I really need.
Can I just tell you all how much I love that very last answer? Because to me loving where you are, in the moment, living life and knowing you have what you need? That is a gift.
And in case this interview was not enough of a gift, Brene’ has graciously provided TWO sets of goodies for TWO lucky readers.
How to enter:
Leave a comment that shares a story about living authentically or about the gift of your imperfections.
Extra entries can be earned by:
- Spreading the #BeEnough message by tweeting, “I believe in ME! @JustBeEnough & @BreneBrown are teaming up to remind me to choose AUTHENTICITY http://bit.ly/nwDTH5″. (one tweet/per day, maximum of four) (please leave a comment for each tweet)
All entries must be received by Wednesday, September 21, 2011. A winner will be selected using random.org. The winner will be contacted by email on the evening of September 21st. If I have not heard back from the winner by the morning of September 22nd, a new winner will be chosen.