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Publications
  • Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home
    Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home
    by Leigh Newman

    Can't wait! 

  • Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
    Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
    by Krista Tippett
  • The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
    by Dan Ariely
  • Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up
    Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up
    by Harriet Lerner
Publications
  • Rhythm And Repose
    Rhythm And Repose
    Anti/Epitaph

    Tender and beautiful. 

  • Boys & Girls
    Boys & Girls
    by Alabama Shakes

    Love this album! So happy when I saw BrainPicker post this on her site! 

  • City of Refuge
    City of Refuge
    by Abigail Washburn

    Pure magic!

  • Some Nights
    Some Nights
    by Fun.
  • She Ain't Me
    She Ain't Me
    by Carrie Rodriguez

    I'm such a fan. 

  • I'm Your Man
    I'm Your Man
    by Leonard Cohen

    Take this Waltz is on my top ten list of all songs!

  • Babel
    Babel
    by Mumford & Sons
Publications
  • Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition)
    Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition)
    PBS

    So totally addicted to this series! Absolutely amazing!

  • Zen: Vendetta / Cabal / Ratking [Blu-ray]
    Zen: Vendetta / Cabal / Ratking [Blu-ray]
    starring Rufus Sewell

    Based on your recommendations from a recent blog post! It's another wonderful BBC mystery series! 

  • The Good Wife: The First Season
    The Good Wife: The First Season
    starring Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry, Archie Panjabi

    One of the best shows on TV. Juiliana Marguiles is incredible. 

  • Doc Martin: Collection - Series 1-4
    Doc Martin: Collection - Series 1-4
    starring Martin Clunes, Caroline Catz, Lia Williams, Stephanie Cole, Ian McNeice
gifting
Sunday
Apr152012

walking the tightrope: thoughts on vulnerability and hurt

Warning: I'm breaking my own rule of "No posts when you're really upset." 

Earlier this morning CNN ran an op/ed that I wrote on authenticity and risk-taking. In a collaboration with TED, they also posted my 2012 TED talk on shame

Ironically, the essay is about the how difficult but important it is to show up and let ourselves be seen and the TED talk focuses on how gender norms are used as shame tools. 

I knew there would be discussion and disagreement - especially because I talk about the word authenticity - a loaded term now that it's been coopted and overused. I knew some people would hate it and other people would find fault with my writing or my argument. These are all risks that I'm willing to take because I believe in my work. 

But I'll be honest with you, I'll never get used to the cruelty and personal attacks. 

I'm never prepared for being called stupid, ugly, and pathetic. I'm ready for a good debate on the topic, but I'm not ready for things like this:

When I read this along with some of the others (which are apparently being removed), I burst into tears.  

I wanted to hide.

I wanted to scream, "Screw you, kinderlove! Where's your frickin' essay?"

I wanted to defend myself. "I know I look terrible. They spray painted my face for the High-Def TED talk and it makes me look like I'm melting." 

I wanted to keep the people I love from reading the comments so they wouldn't feel sorry for me. 

But mostly I just cried and questioned if the work is worth the vulnerability. 

I'm writing this because I'm always asked how I became so strong and immune to the criticism. The answer is that I am strong, but I'm not immune. It hurts. Like hell. Even though I know that "it's not about me" or "some people are projecting" - it still hurts. I'm human.

Here's what I've learned:

1. When we stop caring what other people think we lose our capacity for connection. When we are defined by what people think we lose our willingness to be vulnerable.

2. When we close ourselves off to feedback we stop growing. When we open ourselves up to ongoing cruelty, we shut down to self-protect. 

Showing up in our lives - our families, our marriages, our careers - is a tightrope walk. My balance bar is the shame resilience I've cultivated over the past several years, my family, and my faith.

There are places like TED.com and NPR.org where the comments are tough, but fair and focused on the work. Users sign in and take responsibly for their feedback. I'll continue to share my work there and read those comments. 

There are places that represent the worst in all of us. Where people are careless with their criticism and take pleasure in hurting people - even other commenters. kinderlove got attacked for attacking me and that's not helpful.

I'm going to stop reading those comments, but more importantly, I'm also going to stop contributing to those venues.

So, to all of you who want to help . . . take a stand. Embrace difference. Be respectful. Let's take responsibility for our comments. 

And to all of you who are sharing your work, your ideas, and yourself with the world - thank you. I know it's not easy and I know being strong doesn't stop it from hurting. 

I'm still standing. I'm not done. And, as Brandi Carlile sings in The Story:

"All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am."

Brené

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References (5)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: being whole
  • Response
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    Response: Brené Brown
    The relevance of Brené's work to those of us fighting to overcome the shame of obesity, and my gratitude for her courage in walking her talk.
  • Response
    The baring of the soul type of journaling is what I’m now interested in. Bearing the soul – reveals so much. It is scary but worth it. What I’m seeing from the last few days of writing is that I may need to find a place to vent but no matter ...
  • Response
    Response: Play roulette
    What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & help other customers like its aided me. Good job.

Reader Comments (374)

Thank you for being out there, and for sharing what's happening to you with this. It gives me strength to follow my own path, and trying to be authentic despite feeling misunderstood.


Love, Jordi
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnalogEye
It just goes to show you - that even the people that know all these things still get stung. You already knew some people wouldn't like it and you still let them get to you. So you are human - just like the rest of us 'if you cut us do we not bleed' Well done for puting yourself out there I wish I had your courage. Don't let the **** get yoiu down. Keep flying the Courageous Flag. xxx
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine McAtier
I'm curious why you are treating anonymous or pseudonymous comments in the same way as those coming from an identifiable person.

By definition, these anonymous posters are not engaging you as human beings. They begin by hiding. What you are really seeing in print are feelings, not truth. Someone is lashing out at you because you are challenging their suppositions, many of which are protecting a very fragile inner core. Your arguments are sound (hence your invite to TED and general success), so they go for you in the only way they know how -- via the schoolyard taunt.

Now, if someone posted a nasty comment with their real identity, that would be a different story. You'd be able to understand them better, for one thing. But they would also have to bear the consequences of their negativity and darkness. This character -- kinderlove -- has thrown a hand grenade and walked away. This is cowardice.

It's really important to me that you stay engaged with the world. Your work is so helpful and spot on. Please refrain from listening to the nonsense. The vast majority, the silent majority, are behind you.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim D
"There are places that represent the worst in all of us. Where people are careless with their criticism and take pleasure in hurting people - even other commenters."

YES! And I hate seeing it. I refuse to contribute to such sites, and try very hard not to even visit them. It's sad, but that's just the way it is and I have a choice.

My choice is not to behave that way. I'm sorry for what you experienced. It hurts. I know. But rising above it is, in my opinion, the best response.
These posts are not about you. These posts are about the posters own anger and insecurity and pain. They are written without compassion and without knowing anything about you.

The struggle and the necessity is to be able to be vulnerable and also remember not to take things personally, ESPECIALLY anonymous comments on the internet.

You are loved.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Meyers
Thank you for your writing. You are real and that is refreshing.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterckp
I really appreciate the work you do. I admire your courage, and I applaud you for writing this response.

Because of your work, I know who I am, and I like who I am.

Thank you! Keep making a difference!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ. McPherson
Hi Brené
Sorry to hear about your distress at reading some awful and very irrelevant comments after the video you posted. My respect for you as a person has sky-rocketed (if that was possible) because in reading your post here I can sense your honesty and vulnerability and take strength in it. When I first saw your talk on TED about shame I was moved because as a 20 year old female I could identify with it immediately. As a sportswoman I spend almost 5 hours a day training and it wasn't until you described the beauty in being vulnerable that I decided to reach out to my family and friends and say that I was lonely. My sport allowed me to bottle up this emotion and invest my time on becoming a 'better athlete' but not a better version of me. I felt a lot of shame in being lonely and at the same time an undeserved feeling of having someone. Your words have motivated me to open up and acknowledge my emotions and from that grow as a person. If you receive 1 'thank you' message amongst 10 'get lost' messages please read this one because you've made a difference:)
Thanks,
Niamh
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiamh
Brene -
I am so sad that you are experiencing this. I know it doesn't help to remember that people who would hurl pain at a perfect stranger are in tremendous pain themselves, but yeah, there's that...

I know you know this about being strong, but it includes being weak. We aren't one or the other; we're both, all at the same time.

Which is why yes, choose to walk where the light is. Choose to avoid putting yourself into places where darkness is doing its level best to speak only to your weakness, to suck you in. The gift you give to all of us is your ability to open the space for others to step into when they are ready. And in those dark places, they're not ready - their own pain hurts too much to open up. What is encouragement to the rest of us is a challenge to the rigidity that is keeping their lives just barely bearable.

Thank you for all you are. Go for a walk and breathe deep. And know that we are all breathing that same breath with you.

Hildy Gottlieb
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHildy Gottlieb
No one gets used to cruelty and personal attacks. I'm sorry you experienced both. Since my cancer diagnosis I've been speaking/writing my truth. Sometimes it is really hard to share yourself with the world and open yourself up to potential criticism and disagreement. I agree with your point that when we cut ourselves off from feedback, we stop growing. It is a fine line sometimes. Keep speaking your truth. Thank you for sharing your work, your ideas and yourself too! And remember, we all have bad days.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy's Point
Brene

It was a great post. ignore the haters, you are awesome

Here are 7 suggestions for dealing with online haters. Thought it may help...

http://mashable.com/2010/04/29/deal-with-haters-tim-ferriss/
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSR
I support your right to contribute only to the forums you find worthwhile. We all have the right to a troll-free environment.

The Botox comment is obviously gendered. Over at Making Light they're having a conversation about even more obviously misogynist online "conversations" and the harm they do. As so often on Making Light, it's a long thread but enlightening.
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/013769.html
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterApel Mjausson
Here's what I know for sure (because you taught it to me!): those people's ugly words about you have nothing to do with you. It's about them and their own shame and lack of self-worth. It's about the light that your work shines on the way they feel about themselves and their lives. I also know that for every one Kinderlove there is out there, there are at least a thousand of his or her opposites, people who appreciate with all their hearts and souls what you're doing to make a difference in this world. You don't hear from all those people but they're out there learning from you, making change because of you and cheering for you. I am among those people. Thank you so much for doing what you do! XOXO
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Maurer
I think it's okay to write angry, or however we are in the moment, sometimes. Talk about authentic. I'm glad you did, anyway.

Those comments are bs and intellectually we know it (because who appointed kinderlove -- irony much? -- as the arbiter of appearance norms? And what are those anyway but what we carry in our own heads, with some collision with the outside world and what we pick up there?) It's clear that people bring their own anger and deep dissatisfaction in life to these unnecessary and unfounded attacks on others. But it doesn't take away the impact of mean and abusive words that no one should have to tolerate, especially, you'd think, when you're trying to put such good and helpful things out into the world.

I hope it's okay to link a post here. It's not mine, but I read it on BlogHer the other day and was floored.

http://www.blogher.com/getting-past-appearance-snarking-or-my-crooked-teeth-made-stranger-puke

As I shared with the author, I have a facial difference, and am quite sure that if my image went out into the wider world, I would be skewered, and I honestly don't know how I could handle it. But when the alternative is shutting up and down and not sharing? I hope I don't let that fear get the best of me. I do like your idea of crafting the spaces where we feel safer or like our message may be honored more. I have to think now about how I may have done that subconsciously and if it's where I'm meant to hang out.

(Growth/learning experience or not, I'm sorry you had to tolerate this today.)
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie
Hey Brene -
Close your eyes, take a really deep breath, and exhale. 

Now think about all of us who are so grateful for your hard work, your honesty, and your generosity. It takes a LOT to share as much as you do, and I promise I will never take it for granted. 

You are loved. And deeply respected. 

I'm guessing that kinderlove has some truly awful shame and insecurity demons hidden inside. I can only hope that they will someday find the strength to face them and begin to love themselves. 

Remember that for every single kinderlove, there are likely thousands of people who not only "get" you, but also learned to love, defend & "get" themselves, because of you. 

Take good care Brene. 

Virtual hugs -
Cathy
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathy LK
Sometimes its difficult to understand irrational behavior in people. Posters who chose to spend their time to attack you are probably doing so out of small mindedness or hurt. Perhaps your views hit a little close to home for them and they aren't ready to accept what that means? So they lash out instead. As with most bullies they come from a place of fear and weakness.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason
Well I think you are beautiful, as well as strong and courageous and brave. I'm glad you make the choice to walk that tightrope - it inspires me to do the same - and I am glad that you are choosing right now to stay away from a damaging environment, as you don't deserve to be treated that way.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterthesamesky
My goodness...I am so sorry you had to go through that. It's maddening that people feel that they can 'contribute' to the world by posting that kind of rubbish on public forums. But thank you for continuing to share yourself with the world, in spite of the idiots.

Best wishes,

Casey
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCasey
I just want to add to the chorus of support. You have changed my life for the better. Anonymous commenters aren't brave enough yet to own their vulnerability. Hopefully something they read takes root and makes them better too.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim
On my own blog, I have chosen not to moderate comments. However, in preface to the comment box I have quoted thus:

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world." — Buddha

It is a statement and a cautionary tale. Make your own world, as those who chose to attack others have made their own — yours will be much more pleasant.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAfternoonNapper
The work is totally worth it darling dear. I'm sure the positive comments eventually outweigh the ones written by the essayless! Blessings to you in all you do. I do not feel sorry for you. I feel admiration. Courage abounds! Not everyone is brave enough to hold on to it!!! Gratitude warrioress.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommentersbLyngo
<3
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
I struggle with saying the "right thing." So I'm throwing out saying "the right thing" and just want to say I'm virtually standing by you and thinking/saying "don't mess with my friend." Sometimes this journey just hurts. Feeling joyful knowing you have a loving family to scoop you up right now and love you to pieces.

-Sonia
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonia
You have impacted so many people's lives in the most positive ways - you may never really know how much you have done. Just remember that
04.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterlizzi
You are an inspiration to us all (especially us researchers in training!). Keep your head and chin up, and know that you are doing such incredibly amazing and invaluable work in the field.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTML
The people who post such things are just trolls, living their lives to make other people miserable. They hide behind their monitors and keyboards, and accomplish the goal of disrupting the attention from your topic. Yes, it hurts, but I've found having pity, and sometimes empathy, for them helps sway the pain.

But then again, you are showing deep accountability to your work and that, to me, is most impressive and inspiring. Stay vulnerable, authentic, and courageous!!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Hoglund
Your TedTalk is one of my favorites. I refer clients to it frequently and always receive both favorable responses for the content of your talk and for the idea to use Ted Talks as a therapy support. It is very valuable. Very!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Jordan
I love you:). Hang in there. What you have is worth saying and hearing.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue
I just want to say over and over again....HOW MUCH IT MEANS TO ME that you are doing the work you are doing. I was raised with shame and humiliation as a staple in my life and despite quite a lot of effort to heal, I still struggle with this. Thank you for modeling vulnerability...for the work you have done. For all you have shared...your research. For pioneering on this topic. I have been moved imeasureably (sp?) by your talks...your words...thoughts...ideas. Deep gratitude and respect and a wish for peace to those that are slinging their suffering at you.

Angie Parker, Atlanta, Georgia
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngie Parker
I wish you will not stop writing and talking about vulnerability because thanks to your Ted talk last year I took the balls to grow up and indeed take responsibility for myself and be out there to do what I love. I just want to say Thank You Brene, I am grateful I came accros your work.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterValeria
What other people do (or say) to you, has nothing to do with you.

I think your decision to stop contributing to those venues is perfectly okay. Stay strong Brene! Your words and message are amazing and true.

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting." ~ e. e. cummings
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAutum
If anything, you should cry for that person who obviously doesn't have enough beauty and love in their lives...that they reduce themselves to attacking a stranger based on appearance. Cry for them that they fill their day (because their comment is for sure one of many) trying to make themselves feel better by bringing others down. Cry for them in the time they wasted being destructive rather than productive. Cry for their obvious need for attention and the validation they are seeking by getting you or others to get into confrontation with them.

But don't cry because of the words which were said. You are beautiful and your contributions to society makes you even more so.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara Rosso
guess this falls under the title, "rules were made to be broken"...you are such a gem dear woman...i hope you can feel that on a daily basis...i'm so glad you are in this world...maybe a some ritual for comments that really are upsetting you...like printing and burning...or immediately replace that thought with all the things you love the most about this life...and also brene, take extra good care of yourself...relax, restore...disconnect, in a healthy way and give yourself a break, some space, time out...best to you and yours...you are such a beauty in every way!!!!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterkim
To feel these sorts of comments is to be human and as you say our openness to feel them defines a part of our human connectivity and our capacity for love. It is a difficult reality that to feel we must be open to both the joyous highs of the heart, and the deepest lows. And that people, each with their own struggles and different manifestations of those struggles, will lash out in ways that can trip us and send us to those deep lows if we are not careful.

My personal philosophy is that everyone has a story and that each person's path to this point in life has them reacting in a way that reflects this path. I do think that true cruelty is rare, and that these kinds of comments are instead a reflection of others' own demons and how they are manifest. The perceived anonymity of the Internet can allow people to react in ways that they would never do so in person. Almost as if the sorts of catty things we might catch ourselves thinking from time to time in a moment of frustration or fear or insecurity or, heck, crankiness can momentarily bypass the filters and go straight from silly, hurtful thought that no one would ever hear to silly, hurtful post for the world to see and for the target to bear while the author rides off in forgetful anonymity. There seems to be no filter for some people for whether something might hurt another human being on the web and that always makes me sad.

That being said, I should stress that I do NOT condone this sort of behaviour, and could never imagine a world in which I could begin to behave that way. I'm not perfect. I get cranky. I get jealous. But I have solid filters and I strive to contribute to other's lives in meaningful ways. Our responsibility as citizens and human beings is to cultivate those filters and to remember that we all have our stories and to stop and spend a moment trying to imagine ourselves in the other's shoes. To take a moment to see what you, Brene, have given, and your own show of vulnerability and how you have taken risks should give anyone pause, and to celebrate that. You are lovely and imperfect and wonderful and have shown me, at least, a different perspective on vulnerability that has given me pause-- especially as an ambitious, driven women who has herself struggled with vulnerability and who prior to see your TED talk thought of it as a dirty word. :)

But I'm only human, and I think most of us would have felt that comment just as deeply. I think we are all entitled to feel and internalize and process these kinds of things, but the true measure of success is that we do not let them define us and that instead we stay true to our course and our vision and carry on. So when the tears dry you will still be the awesome you.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Leave it to you, Brene, to take your pain and use it to teach me about mine. <3
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebi
Powerful and brave. I appreciate you.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStudiolila
I'm so sorry you experienced that -- it is truly unfair. And I can understand how you would want to avoid such venues in the future. But I hope you will consider that perhaps there is an audience you may have reached that has benefited from your bravery, that might not have otherwise known of your research and insights. It just outright sucks to get targeted. But maybe there are some who will have read that CNN piece that otherwise might have never learned of your ideas? Maybe there is a positive spin too. We can hope right?

Hoping you are feeling better, and thanks for always being brave, vulnerable YOU.
Thanks so much for giving us your second response. I think you bring up a great point - there are venues where the comments are fair and users are called to be responsible. I agree with your choice to only post there. May this be a shout-out to other sites to begin to change their ways.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicki
Part of living a life of helping the world suck less is experiencing that, sometimes, the world sucks. Reading this honest but gracious post today helped mine suck less - thanks!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Wenger
Jeremy said it best - They are not about you, the attacker is the one with insecurity and perhaps some emotional problems. To attack someone about appearance is not productive. Kinderlove made a choice to be negative and crass. Power should never be given to this type of personality. When she made you cry, she stole some of your power. When she made you mad, and you reacted, she took a little more.

Love bears fruit, and gives life and energy to someone else. Clearly, kinderlove thought she could outsmart you and take some of your power away. Did she succeed?

I believe in your ability. I've followed your blog for years. I hurt for you that you were crying over this, and I wish you peace and love, so you can find a place of healing. Only remember those who matter. The rest are just not worth the time or energy. xo
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSherri Mitchell
Thanks for continuing to model authenticity and vulnerability, even - indeed, especially - under challenging conditions.

I am also grateful for your using the hurt to develop and share further insights into the subtle but important differences between caring what others think about us and allowing others to define us, and between being open to feedback vs. remaining open to channels through which cruelty has flowed.

I'm reminded of Kathy Sierra's awful experience a few years ago, effectively captured in Joan Walsh's insightful Salon commentary on Men Who Hate Women on the Web ( http://www.salon.com/2007/03/31/sierra/ ). The online attacks on Kathy involved more violent words (and imagery), and she chose to withdraw from blogging, an action I understand, but which saddened me, as she was my favorite blogger ( http://creatingpassionateusers.typepad.com/ ).

I am glad that in response to what might be construed as an example of Women Who Hate Women on the Web, you are choosing to implement appropriate safeguards rather than withdrawing completely.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe McCarthy
This is just my two cents…. I am sending this because I hope it will help. But either way it’s just my view and should be taken with a grain of salt.
I think it is the difference between “responding and reacting”. I think it is a “reaction” to say you will never do something like this again. It is fear, very understandable fear, but fear none the less. I have read your books and I believe you are on to something special. You have helped me in my life and will continue to help many more people. Clearly someone who calls themselves “kinderlove” and publishes something like that is exactly who needs to hear your message. It does not make your message or the venue wrong; I think it just means they still have a long way to go.
Responding would be to go take a walk, spend time with your family and put it in your Higher Power’s hands. It is none of your business what anyone thinks of you are what they were trying to accomplish. That person or persons do not change who you are or your work. Give yourself the time away from this situation to see that for yourself.
Much love
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
I feel really strongly that people who lash out in this way are either unable to understand or unable to accept the work of the person they are attacking. They go for (obviously unfounded) attacks based on appearance or pick up on a grammatical/punctuation/spelling error or they imply negative things about people because they don't have this understanding with which to join the discussion.

When they do this I feel genuinely sorry for them. I know what it's like to feel angry or hurt and I know that sometimes I want to lash out. Fortunately, I am able to channel that in ways that don't hurt other people. And, fortunately, I can follow a discussion, understand it and (I hope) comment appropriately. If I couldn't do that AND I felt hurt or angry, would I be one of these people who needs to hurt others to feel self worth?

Your work is beautifully provocative. It cuts right through those barriers we think are protecting us but are actually stifling us. If some people's barriers are so desperately important to them, and their self image is so fragile that this kind of challenge is unacceptable to them, they're dealing with their own torments. However hurtful their comments, their own shallow concerns are something I feel genuine pity for.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGill O'Connor
Once again your courage, strength and honesty rock me. You have made a difference, and you will certainly continue to do so - for countless people. Thank you, stand tall, and Write On!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Pearsons
Brene,
I am so sorry that people have been so unkind and for whatever reason, needed to share that. I cannot begin to tell you how much your work has helped me. I'm a writer, and my first book is coming out soon, and I'm terrified! I am full of the "who do you think you are" gremlins. You have helped SO many people!

My oldest son is a recovering heroin addict. Doing really well with 4 1/2 years clean and sober. I passed your TED talks on to him, and he has passed it on to all the young men he sponsors. Your work is reaching and helping people from all walks of life. Don't ever stop.

And one last thing? My best friend and I, who loves your talks and books as well, were both saying the other day how beautiful you are. So Take that kinderlove! (who by the way, needs a new handle - there's nothing kind OR loving about that person) You are incredible.
Thank you!!!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCandace Hammond
I really NEVER comment but just had to...Honetsly-in some ways the grouchy comments come of to me like this:

-Hey, wanna go to disneyland (insert your own cool place here), and have an amazing time. (invitation for super fun adventure)
-No, you are too ugly.
-I am not sure how a wonderful, rich, super fun adventure and how I look relate. I don't plan on a staring contest...just come have fun.
-Not until you comb you hair.
-Ok, done, lets go.
-Not until you wash your face and put on lip sitck.
-Done.
-Wear sandals and perfume.
-Done.
-I still can't go.

It's almost like when you have a really cool invitation for folks, where they have to climb their own wall of fear, they have to pull out the *biggest, baddest* insult they can to avoid their own wall.

I for one (though I have never met you), love and appreciate what you do, who you are, and how those invite me to sit down in the home of my own soul. Thank you.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllia DeAngelis
Tim D. is spot on. I am engaged in planning a 30 year class reunion and am amazed at the hurt out there after so many years. Wear your own skin and wear it well regardless of the size, shape, color or texture. It is the skin your creator gave you and gave it to you on purpose. You do great work!
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCousin Eddie
Brene,

While we each are our own subject matter expert I hope you will find what I have to say in someway helpful.

When I went through my divorce I thought I was so together But alas.... I would tell the grocery store clerk "You would not believe what my minister husband did......"

When my daughter was in Middle School (such a mean girl time) she would come home crying. While not one to tell a young teen to use "less than splendid" language I told her to say ___ to herself.

I knew I had healed when I no longer cared what my former husband said or thought.

I try to take the hurt and turn it into a firece determination and say to myself "I'll show you." When I can say I'll show you it fuels my determination and makes me feel strong and mighty.

If you not longer participate in TED and NPR then THEY will win and WE will lose.

I bet that really mean comment was made by some teenager who has nothing else to do but be mean.

Please don't let the minority win~then we all lose.

Keeping you in the Light.

Lisa
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Fields
Is the work worth the vulnerability? YES. Yes. Yes. Your work makes a difference. I can't even count the number of times your TED talks have been forwarded around my circle of friends. For the most part (I think) they're not the types of people who leave anonymous rude, incendiary comments on web posts, but they TALK with their friends and their co-workers and their families and the people they meet, and THEY speak highly of your work. "Don't let the turkeys (or the trolls just seeking attention) get you down." They are the minority. The majority may not be as vocal, but they are there.

And thank you for being so open about the hurt these comments cause. I wonder if people like "kinderlove" (SO mis-named!) understand the pain that they cause with their thoughtlessness. I wonder, if they could be more vulnerable about their own pain, their loneliness and yearning for attention, perhaps their own self-image issues, would they get more positive attention and support from which all could benefit.
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi
Brene,

I know you're a busy woman, and I don't know if you'll even make it to my little comment in the list, but you are not alone. I was actually featured on CNN in 2010
( http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/21/parents.disabilities/index.html?iref=allsearch ) because I am disabled and care for my son with my feet. Many of the commenters were kind and sweet, but several were discussing whether I was on food stamps and accusing me of stealing from the government, etc. Since then, I have become a public speaker and am finalizing the details of a book contract (my autobiography). It is unspeakably hard knowing that people are so ready to get online and unleash on you! Your work has inspired and encouraged me in ways you'll never know. Learning to be vulnerable has changed my life, and since I've started reading/listening to what you have to say, I've felt like, "Hey! Someone gets it!"
How sad that certain media outlets have become nothing but a place to peck each other to death. It is a shame, but I don't blame you for taking your work elsewhere. Speak where people listen.

Just wanted you to hear my little story since it's similar... most of the nasty comments were removed long ago (I think my parents were stalking the page). But believe me when I say that you're not alone, and you give me courage to keep doing what I do.

Blessings on you.

Sarah Kovac
04.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Kovac

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