Daring Greatly: Introduction

I am so excited to announce that I will be doing a series focused on caring for our emotional and mental self. I mentioned in Saturday’s post that self-care is so much more than face masks and baths. My dream with this blog is to help teach and encourage wholehearted, healthy living. I will continue to talk about my oils and share the ways I am physically caring for my body. However, I wanted to share with you all an author who drastically changed my life in college when I was introduced to her.

Brene Brown rocked my world when I was introduced to her TED talk and to her book Daring Greatly in early college. I have proceeded to read all but one of her books. I am going to start with Daring Greatly and each week post about a chapter. I’ll be sharing some of my own story, but I encourage you to work through this with me. I’ll be finishing each post with questions for you to contemplate. They may be questions in the chapter or ones I think of while I’m reading.

I’m really excited to read her books in this different state of post-grad adult life, and more so to share it with you!


This week I’ll just be starting with the Introduction chapter.

Brene Brown shares this quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech at the beginning of her book, as it served for her inspiration for the phrase Daring Greatly. I think there is great merit to this quote from his speech as we enter into this vulnerability journey:


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”  -Theodore Roosevelt Citizenship in a Republic speech.


Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. -Brene Brown Daring Greatly pg 2.


The introduction starts with a story of how uncomfortable vulnerability makes Brene. She’s in her therapist’s office and describes vulnerability as excruciating. And I get it. There have been moments where people have seen through my facade. There have been moments when people can tell I have walls up, walls that I don’t want to take down. Walls put up to protect me, to prevent me from being utterly destroyed.

But the thing is, those walls don’t actually protect us. The walls we put up as a form of self-protection hurt us more than they help us.

The other weekend I was visiting my boyfriend (mind you, he asked me to be his girlfriend that weekend, after talking and visiting long distance for over a year). In the year that we’ve been friends, we tended to avoid emotional conversations. We stuck to books, music, movies, tv shows and food. We kept conversation at a superficial level. But once we decided to take our relationship from friends to dating we both knew we would have to be vulnerable. Over the weekend, we had a really good conversation, where we started to be more vulnerable with one another. But there was one thing in particular that struck me – he said something to the effect of “I think there’s an Amber that I’m not seeing, and if I’m ever going to make you my fiance I’m gonna have to see her” Which lead to a conversation about the fact that I live behind a lot of fear and struggle a lot with being a people pleaser. But the fact that he could see my wall was eye opening. It was a I’m not as transparent as I thought moment.

Why is vulnerability so important? Why is crucial to wholehearted living that we let down our walls?

Well first of all, if we don’t let people know what’s going on we can’t get the help and support we need. I’ve worked really hard over the last couple years to be more open with what I was going through in order to get the support that I needed.

Secondly, vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences. (Daring Greatly pg 12).


Brown defines wholehearted living as follows:

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of wothiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think “no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough”. It’s going to bed at night and thinking “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (DG pg 10).


Brown offers 10 guideposts of wholehearted living. As we go through her books we’ll dig in more. Below I’m going to list the guideposts. As you read through them I want you to think about which ones might be the ones that hold you back from living a wholehearted life the most. I will tell that all but 3 of them are something I know I have to actively work for.


  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting go of perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting go of of scarcity and fear of the dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting go of the need for certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting go of comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting go of being cool and “always in control”


981f05e50d4cbcbbced53a64b4602c4dThings to remember as we get started – people who live a wholehearted life are able to live this life because they put in the work creating a culture and cultivating a life that supports wholehearted living. None of us are perfect, and we never will be. The transformation of wholehearted living does not happen overnight, but it is a transformation that is worth the work of digging into your heart, and learning to let down the walls of self-protection.


Questions for this week:

-Do you keep everyone at a safe distance?

-What is a “safe distance” for you? (ie how vulnerable are you willing to be)

-What is your exit strategy when people are getting too close?

-How do you respond when you feel vulnerable?

Do you clean, grasp for control in other areas, shut down, etc.

-What guideposts (found above) strike you as ones that hold you back, the most, from being vulnerable?


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