It isn’t news that I am a huge Brené Brown fan. I have mentioned the influence her books and talks have had on me in previous posts. I regularly talk about her work with friends. Today, one of those friends let me know she’d never heard of Dr. Brown until me and wanted to know more about her. I told her I’d make it easier on her, and whoever else here is interested, to see this amazing woman in action. Now you can test drive her content before you read one of her books. Without even having to google.
Dr. Brown’s jump to notoriety came after her TEDx Houston talk on vulnerability became incredibly popular. A few years later she presented at the (big) TED conference on shame. You can see both on her website or here. (Watch them in the order they were presented.)
Dr. Brown recently spoke with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, which happens to be free online. Yay! I watched both episodes this week and continue to ruminate on many of her words. I will probably watch them again. Even though I’ve read her books, something about hearing her words and listening to Oprah process it all that made it hit me harder.
After you watched these, or have read her books or blog posts, I’d love to know what you’re contemplating. I’ll start:
1) I am really concerned about shame in schools. Kids do not need to be singled out by teachers to “learn their lesson.” I believe this deep in my core. There are much better and more effective ways for kids to learn. I can understand how and why it happens. As a parent, I have traveled that road a few times. Thankfully, it is upsetting to me when I do and I usually take time to reflect. Why would I made the choice to shame my child, instead of really understand and come alongside him? Often, it’s my own fear that triggers that desire in me. I imagine it might be the same for teachers. They could be afraid of losing control of their classroom, of a kid not achieving the necessary scores for that teacher to be considered “successful” (which is a different and very important problem!), of parents not being pleased with how behavior was handled, etc… I understand there are reasons, but there are alternative solutions and our kids deserve better. They deserve respect. They deserve nurturing.
I’m thinking of gifting Daring Greatly to my son’s elementary school so more teachers will have opportunity to read it. But that’s just one school and a few teachers. This needs to be a national conversation. Parents are a pretty amazing force for change, so I’m praying this becomes a movement. I hope that as education regarding the problem increases, tolerance for shaming disciplinary tactics will decrease.
2) I am growing more aware about what vulnerability armor I wear and when I put it on. This has been a pretty difficult process for me but I’m seeing progress in how I respond to challenging situations. I’m improving in my ability to take feedback constructively, not personally. I’m quicker to identify when I’m making choices because I’m anxious or fearful. These are good and important steps for me.
3) Gratitude. The biggest “aha” moment I had after soaking in the Oprah shows was that I need to be more active in practicing gratitude. I want to know deep joy. I want my children to experience joy. I find it incredibly powerful, and empowering, that this is a choice, not a personality trait. We choose joy by building in habits of gratitude. Not just the big things, the little details. Writing them down, speaking them, thinking them, pondering them. Breathing gratitude.
This week I am thankful for the beautiful cherry blossoms decorating our streets, for the yellows of the daffodils and the pinks and purples of the hyacinths. All bring relief to winter’s gray. I am thankful for a string of great books after a winter of many disappointments. I am thankful that my boys are digging in the dirt, making mud pies all around our yard. I am thankful that peas will get planted this weekend. I am thankful that my brother’s ship is at port and I’ll get to share a meal or two with him. I am thankful for raw oysters. The really briny ones. (Seriously. When my brother comes to town this is almost always my second thought.) I am thankful.