Daring Greatly, Brene Brown, PhD LMSW, Avery An Imprint of Penguin Random House, 2012
Dr. Brown is a social worker. She says that she went into social work and then wanted to study people rather than work with them, so she went on to a PhD. This book is about vulnerability and her studies of it in US culture.
Her research has interviewed both men and women, exploring the messages from US culture and the messages that people have absorbed. She talks about the culture of never enough: never having enough, never being good enough, never being brave, strong, kind, smart enough.
Messages for women from her surveys in US culture:
1. Be perfect, but don't make a fuss about it or take time away from your spouse, family, work and make it look easy.
2. Don't upset anyone or hurt anyone's feelings, but say what is on your mind
3. Sex dialed up when the kids are in bed, but dialed down for the school meetings and public.
4. Be yourself but not shy or unsure.
5. Don't make anyone uncomfortable but be honest.
6. Don't get too emotional but don't be detached. Hit the perfect spot between hysteria and cold hearted bitch.
Messages for men from her surveys of men in US culture
1. Shame is failure. Work, spouse, sex, money, kids.
2. Shame is being wrong.
3. Shame is a sense of being defective.
4. Shame happens when people think you are soft.
5. Revealing any weakness is shaming.
6. Showing fear is shameful.
7. Shame is being seen as "the guy you can shove up against the lockers."
8. Our worst fear is being criticized or ridiculed -- both are shaming.
9. The shame message over and over is "Don't be a pussy."
I have paraphrased both lists.
She writes about the difficulty of communication between two people who are locked in these messages. She then writes about how people avoid feeling vulnerable. Vulnerability armor. My favorite is "being too busy". Some people are locked into winner/loser and see life as that only. She writes about children in schools, employees at work, couples and hope: people who dare greatly to be vulnerable, though not inappropriately vulnerable.
This book is a piece of what I want: I want to be human, to be vulnerable, to not be perfect, to be real, to be loved anyhow.