Brené Brown — Striving versus Self-Acceptance, Saving Marriages, and More (#409)

“We chase extraordinary moments instead of being grateful for ordinary moments until hard shit happens. And then in the face of really hard stuff — illness, death, loss — the only thing we’re begging for is a normal moment.”
—Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown (@BreneBrown) is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation – Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. Brené is also a visiting professor in management at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and her latest book, Dare to Lead, which is the culmination of a seven-year study on courage and leadership. Brené hosts the Unlocking Us podcast, and her TED talk — The Power of Vulnerability — is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix. The Call to Courage special debuted on the streaming service on April 19, 2019.

Please enjoy Brené’s return to the show!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can also watch the conversation on YouTube

#409: Brené Brown — Striving versus Self-Acceptance, Saving Marriages, and More


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear another episode with Brené Brown? — Listen to her first appearance on this show in which we discuss vulnerability, schools of philosophy, and creating a home-run TED Talk (stream below or right-click here to download):

#100: Brené Brown on Vulnerability and Home Run TED Talks



  • Connect with Brené Brown:

Website | Unlocking Us Podcast | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn


  • What is it about Brené that elicits such an almost universally enamored response from women at the mention of her name? [05:44]
  • As someone who was unexpectedly thrust into the role of public figure when her TED Talk went viral, how has Brené determined where to draw lines and boundaries? [10:24]
  • On chasing the extraordinary instead of embracing the ordinary — until we have to face the really hard stuff life throws our way. [14:54]
  • Instead of relegating it to her secret shame life, Brené bravely shares a story about what went on in her head when she was the uncomfortable subject of a recent photo session. [15:54]
  • Where’s the line between being our best selves or striving for excellence, and embracing who we are? Self-acceptance and complacency? Excellence and beauty in all things and perfectionism that is paralyzing? [19:08]
  • Can you change in a lasting, meaningful way without self-acceptance? Can there be such a thing as self-aware complacency? What if you’re delusional (or narcissistic) enough to believe you’re self-aware and self-accepting while being neither? [29:28]
  • Sometimes I worry that I’ve lost my audience when we go off on threads like this one. Here’s a confession that I hope doesn’t sound too woo about what I consider the crux skill that underlies all others, and why I believe the questions I’m trying to answer these days are not at odds with questions I’ve answered in the past. [33:22]
  • Conversation’s not always an efficient process, which is why this segment covers narcissism as the shame-based fear of being ordinary, Brené’s surprising fanaticism for Rush (RIP Neil Peart), shifting audience demographics, and no plans for writing The 4-Hour Self-Awareness. [35:19]
  • “What are you unwilling to feel?” Why we don pathological armor for protection and how we might take the first steps in shedding it once we find the courage to do so — hopefully before we’re “halfway to dead.” [37:55]
  • When such a decision is made — usually around mid-life — what do we hope replaces the armor and becomes a superpower? [44:56]
  • Nobody makes it to adulthood without some kind of trauma, and that trauma won’t let you discard that armor without a fight — or the help of a therapist. [46:36]
  • When your trauma and dysfunction and problems pile up, you’re dealing with it no matter what. The question is: how are you dealing with it? With the control that self-awareness brings, or under the control of what you’re up against? [47:20]
  • Not all changes need to take 20 or 30 years. With the right resources, tools, and support system (like an empathic significant other), they can be made in a mere fraction of that time. [49:47]
  • Why getting married was the hardest thing Brené has ever done, and the hacks that have kept that marriage — and the whole family — going for 25 years. [53:05]
  • Does every member of the family have a vote in the decision-making process at Brené’s house? How is power distributed? [57:22]
  • Brené’s theory on parenting, how it works in her household, and why her kids follow the rules even when they’re not at home. [58:23]
  • Why Brené encouraged her super-academic daughter to slow down and enjoy her time in high school and college without racing toward some grand finale career decided upon at age 18. [1:00:03]
  • Why everybody should have to work at least one — preferably two — service jobs early in life. [1:02:29]
  • Five things Brené has changed her mind about in the last few years. [1:04:10]
  • Five absurd, stupid things Brené does. [1:10:58]
  • Five things Brené is super excited about. [1:16:18]
  • One last TikTok joke and parting thoughts. [1:20:14]