“When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.” Dr. Brene’ Brown, The Power of Vulnerability
Imagine a treatment center that cultivates healthy growth through the ‘power of vulnerability’ in the lives of struggling teenage girls. You will not have to imagine very hard or for very long, as Montana’s Clearview Girls Academy is in the process of reviewing and applying much of the groundbreaking teachings of Dr. Brene’ Brown.
Vulnerability is a Great Strength
Dr. Brown contends that being vulnerable is not a weakness, but instead should be a great personal strength. Being vulnerable, as God designed us, is more about stepping out of our comfort zone and embracing our vulnerability to our greatest benefit, than hiding it in shame and steeling our emotions against the potential of uncertain loss or emotional pain.1
“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad.” Dr. Brene’ Brown, The Power of Vulnerability
Dr. Brown found that working so hard to fight off vulnerability only limits the fullness of the normal and necessary experiences of love, belonging, trust, and joy in our lives. In the end, we may not feel the sharpness of the pain as much when things do not turn out, but we also do not feel the full joy when they turn out so right.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Dr. Brene’ Brown, Wholehearted Living
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of what others think we are supposed to be and embracing who we truly are. We have to learn, though, to properly acknowledge and embrace our personal passions, gifts, talents, and our strengths and weaknesses. This is not something we naturally learn on our own.2
“When our belief that there’s something greater than us, something rooted in love and compassion, breaks, we are more likely to retreat to our bunkers, to hate from afar, to tolerate more and more, and then to start dehumanizing others.” Dr. Brene’ Brown, Braving the Wilderness.
The connection is all about getting in touch with our true identity, so we can better enter into healthy relationships with others. We have to also learn how to explore who the real us is inside, what we really feel about things, what we genuinely like and dislike, and what most nurtures our soul. We are born to be in a safe community with others, but it doesn’t happen on its own.3
“Courage is a heart word.” Dr. Brene’ Brown, Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
Courage is being brave enough to speak ‘one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ This has to be learned as well.
We have to be led to recognize our inner strength and how to make high levels of commitment to honesty.4
A Clearview to Putting on the Superhero Cape of Vulnerability
To these ends, programs like Clearview, to be most successful, to be most in sync with Dr. Brown’s research, must teach troubled teenage girls to practice gratitude, be self-compassionate, foster a resilient spirit, unashamedly embrace joy, grow a trusting faith, be creative, learn to play and rest, be calm and still in a storm, pursue meaningful work, laugh wholeheartedly, sing out loud, and dance ‘like no one is looking.’1
“Up, up and away!” Superman
1. The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection and Courage, Dr. Brene’ Brown, 2020.
2. The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are, Dr. Brene’ Brown, 2010.
3. Creating Authenticity Through Cultivating Connection with Self and Others, Dr. Brene’ Brown, 2015.
4. The Call to Courage, by Dr. Brene’ Brown, 2019.