Brené Brown

Get to know Brené Brown

Who is Brené Brown?

Brené Brown is a research professor who works at the University of Houston in Texas. She has published several well-received books on subjects like vulnerability,courage, feminism and resilience to shame. Several of her books have gone on to become bestsellers in the United States and other places in the English-speaking world. In addition to her writing, she continues to work as an academic. Brené Brown also has a masters degree in social work which she gained in 1996. She is extremely well-known for her online presence, too. Her TED talk entitled 'The Power of Vulnerability' was one of the most widely viewed of any lectures in that format. It has been seen over 40 million times since it was first posted in 2010.

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What books has Brené Brown written?

Answering the question of what books has Brené Brown written should begin with one of her early works of literature, 'Shame Resilience Theory', which came out in 2007. It was part of a more substantial book called 'Contemporary human behaviour theory: A critical perspective for social work'. Brené Brown went on to come up with 'Connections: A 12-Session Psychoeducational Shame-Resilience Curriculum' in 2009. Some of her major themes were explored once more in 2012 with 'Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead' and 'Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts', that came out in 2018. Other books that she has written include 'I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power' and 'Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone'.

What does Brené Brown have to say about integrity?

It is fair to say that integrity is an important concept for Brené Brown. After all, it comes up in her writing and teaching time and again. According to her, integrity is shown by the choices that each of us makes. For example, if somebody chooses a path that requires courage to go down rather than a more comfortable way forward, then this is something that would demonstrate they have integrity. Brown also argues that choosing something because it is right rather than because it might be seen as easy or fun shows the same quality of integrity. In short, Brown advocates that people with integrity will live by their values every day and not just profess them. You might describe this as walking the walk with integrity and not merely talking the talk on it.

Where is Brené Brown from?

Answering the question of where is Brené Brown from means discussing her movements in childhood. She was originally from San Antonio, Texas. However, much of her early life was spent in New Orleans, a city she moved to with her three younger siblings when the Brown family relocated there. After being raised in the Catholic Church during her time in New Orleans, Brown moved to Houston to study in the early 1990s, when she first gained her bachelor's degree in social work. In 1996, Brown gained a masters degree in social work from the University of Texas in Austin. She continues to live in the city with her husband and has since been baptised in the Episcopal Church. The couple has two children. In 2002, Brown gained a Doctorate from the University of Houston. As such, despite her early upbringing in Alabama, Brown is very much a Texan.

How can you find out more about Brené Brown?

As well as her many written works, Brené Brown is a renowned storyteller and public speaker who takes on many public engagements, many of them staged in the United States, which you can obtain tickets for. Brown has appeared on numerous TV shows with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, among others, where she has discussed her ideas and books. She also has an active life on social media where you can keep up to date with the latest talks and presentations she is involved with. Some of her talks have been recorded or filmed, and many of them are available online, accessible via her own website. Brown also features in numerous podcasts. Her podcasts and videos, including those of her famous TED Talks, can be found through her website, brenebrown.com.

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What is Brené Brown's theory of shame resilience?

Brené Brown's shame resilience theory is a method for connecting to your most authentic self and fostering a more meaningful set of relationships with others as a result of being who you truly are. The idea is predicated on the notion that human beings a predisposed to feel shame about themselves. Brown suggests that if we can move away from feelings of self-shame, then we will become more resilient. To do this, we need to show more empathy towards ourselves. For example, if we make a mistake, we shouldn't be ashamed of it but accept it as an understandable error. By being more empathetic to ourselves so, in theory, we can be more empathetic and understanding of others, something that should improve our sense of well-being. According to Brown, there are twelve areas where people tend to need to show more resilience against shame. These surround money and work, family ties, parenting, motherhood and fatherhood, body image, addiction, sex, health, being stereotyped, dealing with trauma, getting older and religious beliefs.

What does Brené Brown say about choice theory?

According to Brené Brown, choice theory will help parents to deal with the sometimes disruptive behaviour of children, especially smaller ones. What the theory involves is offering kids a choice of what they most want so that they have some agency over their actions, but they also face the consequences of them. So, if a toddler was having a tantrum, for instance, the parent might offer a choice of carrying on but foregoing some treat later on or stopping and being able to enjoy said treat down the line. Crucially, the child must make the decision as to how to proceed, and the parent must be committed to the outcome. Giving in later would undermine the theory, according to Brown. Furthermore, Brown suggests that by showing clear boundaries to children, in this way, kids learn how to set and stick to their own boundaries for themselves.

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What is integrity according to Brené Brown?

As previously mentioned, integrity is one of the subjects that Brené Brown has written about consistently in many of her works. According to her, integrity is the act of choosing a courageous option over a comfortable one. You can see this in the way the aforementioned choice theory works when raising children. It might be all too easy to 'give in' to a child's unreasonable demands for the sake of a quiet life or to avoid short-term social embarrassment. Brown would say that you have to avoid feeling shameful in these situations and do the courageous thing. In the longer term, this will lead to the more positive outcomes you are seeking. As Brown might put it, people with integrity choose what is right instead of what is fun, fast or facile. Brown once wrote that showing integrity means you choose to practise your values rather than simply professing them. As such, integrity is a choice we opt for rather than an innate personality trait.

What does Brené Brown mean by vault?

According to Brené Brown, a vault is a kind of psychological metaphor for trust. Brown's view of trust is that it is based on seven elements. One of these is integrity, as you have already read. Other elements include setting boundaries and being reliable. Accountability and generosity also feature in the make-up of trust, as does the ability to be non-judgemental about oneself and others. The other element of trust Brown argues for is called a vault. This is the idea that anything private that is shared with you goes into a metaphoric vault. In other words, information and experiences that others share with you are not to be shared with others. Unless permission is sought and granted, confidences will remain in the vault and not shared with anyone, even those closest to us, so that that trust can be properly maintained. Brown says that trust based on the vault concept is a two-way street whereby people can share profound truths about themselves, knowing they will be respected.

What is Brené Brown's Dare To Lead?

Brené Brown says she spent seven years studying bravery in leadership, and it is something anyone can put into action. In other words, her ideas about leadership – which have coalesced into the Dare to Lead concept – are not just for people in management roles or who have lives where leadership is expected of them. Anyone can 'step up' and show greater leadership, according to Brown, so long as they have the courage of their convictions. For Brown, this means a leader will take responsibility not just for themselves but to explore the potential in others. Brown says that everyone has the capacity to get more out of themselves. What a leader will dare to do – whereas others might not – is to change things to encourage others to maximise their potential. This might mean being brave enough to alter a process or to approach a problem in a new way. She argues that the world is desperate for brave leaders in all walks of life.

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How do you become brave according to Brené Brown?

When she made a TV special called 'The Call to Courage', Brené Brown discussed many of her ideas about bravery. In this show, she said that what was the key to wholehearted living was being able to accept the vulnerability we all feel. Only by understanding how vulnerable you are is it possible to determine who brave you are, according to Brown. Facing up to what makes us feel vulnerable, therefore, is crucial if we want to become more courageous. For Brown, this means starting every day with a mantra that says something along the lines of choosing courage over comfort. By reinforcing that idea, so it becomes more natural to choose the more difficult path. Brown also emphasises that she can't make any promises about herself for the future, but she can always choose to be brave in the moment.

What does Brené Brown say about joy?

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but Brené Brown says that feeling joy is when we are at our most vulnerable. This is because, for her, vulnerability isn't so much a weakened emotional state but a strength we can draw upon to show greater courage. What Brown teaches is that people often feel a sense of foreboding when they sense joy in their lives. This might mean imagining that things can't last when they are going well or thinking a catastrophe is just around the corner. She would argue that this is not true joy because we have not allowed ourselves to enjoy the bliss of a joyful moment. In her research, Brown found that people who were genuinely joyful in their lives didn't so much seek happiness but were willing to feel gratitude for the moments of joy they experienced. Brown sees joy as something of an imperfect gift that should be embraced with appreciativeness.

How does Brené Brown describe empathy?

Brené Brown describes empathy in two ways. Firstly, she says that it is a means of connecting with others that allows us to feel that we are not shut off from them. The second way she describes it is to say that it allows people to make an emotional connection with others that can be imagined. In other words, we do not have to go through the same experience as someone else to understand what it might be like for them from an emotional perspective. Crucially, Brown does not think that empathy is innate but a skill that can be acquired and built on. In Dare to Lead, Brown says that becoming more empathetic can be achieved by showing kindness and being curious. Importantly, an empathetic person won't think they can solve a situation for another or fix their emotional state. Rather, they will connect and listen, something they do non-judgementally.

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Brené Brown in summary

As an academic in social work, Brené Brown has much to say on the practices associated with her chosen profession. However, her later life has been largely engaged with helping the public at large to gain a deeper appreciation of the principles she has come up with rather than only producing works for practitioners of social work. She has since gone on to become one of the best-known faces in the United States who discusses issues of well-being, courage, shame, vulnerability and empathy. As a best-selling author, her books have touched many people's hearts and had a positive impact on the way they conduct themselves.

Much of what Brown has to say about shame and resilience is based not just on her academic work but on her own life experiences. As she admits herself, she had a wide range of problems in her life at an earlier age. She says she was addicted to controlling situations, that she smoke and drank and that she also suffered from emotional eating. Brown freely admits to attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings after graduating, for example. Her frank discussions about herself often help people to connect to the way she has overcome these issues by facing up to her own vulnerabilities and showing courage in them. The same goes for some of the parenting techniques she has developed since examples of how things like her theory of choice are often cited from the time when her children were growing up.

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