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  • Writer's pictureJason Griffing

Impact Index: The Tim Ferris Show, Ep. 1409—Brené Brown

Below are a few hand-picked impactful ideas from Brené Brown's appearance on the Tim Ferris Show, ep. 1409. This wonderful interview covered topics which can help us all:

  • Balance our desire for personal development with the need to accept ourselves as we are;

  • Discover the outmoded defense mechanisms that are holding us back and replace them with something far more powerful—curiosity;

  • Recognize the importance of bringing your "shadows" out into the open where you can tackle them head-on

  • Create more harmony in your marriage (or any relationship) by being more self-aware

  • And much more...


Self-acceptance vs complacence ( ~15:40)

Where is the line between accepting who we are and striving to be the best version of ourselves? Is it possible to embrace our imperfections, our fears, our vulnerabilities without resigning ourselves to them? The ideas of self-acceptance and personal development are, in some ways, at odds with one another. How do we reconcile that?

Simple. We make room for both. We schedule blocks of time and deliberate practices for each. We recognize that there is danger at both extremes. Self-acceptance taken too far can lead to complacency, stultification, and stagnation. At the other extreme, personal development can lead to paralyzing perfectionism. We get "myopically fixated" on giving the home-talk or delivering the massive project. We use it as a coping mechanism. Self-loathing drives our performance.

So we seek balance. We cultivate our ability to "be OK with whatever is" while simultaneously recognizing outmoded thought patterns and strategies shaped by our childhood which no longer serve us. We decide where the line gets drawn. No one else makes that decision for us. And we accept our circumstances without becoming complacent.

Replacing armor with curiosity ( ~39:20)

We all reach a point in our lives when the weight of our armor gets too heavy. It stops serving us. Worse, it becomes an impediment, limiting us from becoming who we are really meant to be. It's the "developmental milestone of midlife." It is when, "the universe comes down and puts her hands on your shoulders and pulls you close and whispers in your ear, 'I'm not fucking around. You're half-way to dead. The armor is keeping you from growing into the gifts I've given you. That is not without penalty. Time is up.'"

It's a fork in the road. It's when we're faced with a decision: Will you decide to turn away? To double down on your own bullshit? To live your life in denial? Or, will you finally decide that all of the ways you've tried to protect yourself are no longer useful? Will you replace denial with curiosity—"the superpower for the second half of our lives"? Will you be brave enough to ask yourself the one question that matters most—what am I unwilling to feel? What is the part of me that I've spent my life trying to make sure no one sees?

We all grew up and experienced pain, trauma, disappointment. We learned that it is unsafe to feel certain things, that there are parts of us that elicit rejection, that push away the connectedness we so deeply crave. So we armored up. Built walls. Constructed stories about who we are, about our role in the world. Developed thought patterns and coping mechanisms. But eventually, this armor stops serving us. If we're curious enough, we stand a chance of recognizing this. And only then can we begin the hard work of removing our armor, of taking steps toward a more peaceful and contented existence.

Keep your shadows in front of you ( ~44:18)

Sometimes we delude ourselves into believing we don't need to face our problems. We tell ourselves we're not ready. Maybe later. Some other time. But here's the catch—you're dealing with your problems whether you know it or not. The only question is how do you want to face them? Do you want to face it "head-on in the sunlight or have it come oozing out of the corners, in the darkness where you can't contend with it in a direct or systematic way?" "Keep your shadows in front of you, they can only take you down from behind."

Marriage and "the 80/20" ( ~51:23)

Everyone says marriage should be 50/50. But anyone who's been married for any period of time knows that's bullshit. It's never 50/50. It's never even static for that matter. It shifts by the day, by the hour, by the minute. Energy. Investment. Kindness. Patience. We can't evenly split this load all the time. One minute you might be pulling 80%. The next you're in the dumps, pulling a solid 10% and looking to your partner for the other 90%.

Communicate. Help each other out. A partnership works over the long haul only if they're willing to carry your "20" and you're willing to carry theirs. And when the two of you combined only add up to a "50", be vigilant. Make a "plan of kindness" to one another. As a team, you're "threadbare". Order in. Give yourself a pass on the housekeeping. Send the kids to a friend's house. Slow down and work through it as a team.


*Please note: My attempt to distill lengthy source material down into a series of compact, memorable ideas occasionally requires that I summarize and/or provide my own interpretation. I make every effort to ensure that I do not alter the spirit of the original material. However, except in instances where a source is directly quoted, the impact index should always be read as such (i.e. an interpretation) and not as direct source material. If you plan to cite any of the ideas contained in this post, please do so with respect to the original source material.

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