Tag Archives: Dr. Brene Brown

Should I Score YOUR story?

I make it a daily habit to go onto Facebook and examine the lives and experiences of the people in my community.  Although it’s part of my job as a social media specialist for Indrani’s Light Foundation to dive into social media about life events, on occasion, I have been guilty of “comparing” my story to other life stories.  I find stories in my community that make my story seem like a cakewalk…. meaning that I feel guilty for believing I have suffered in my life.

I begin to give my story a score, from 1 to 10.

score image

Let me give you an example ….

I suffer from PTSD syndrome due to a few events that happened to me in the past.  I face many triggers, sometimes on a daily basis …. sometimes in my dreams that show up as nightmares.  BUT, I feel guilty about sharing my story with others.  Why?  Because I may end up talking to someone who is currently fighting for their lives after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer, or someone who was brutally gang raped as a young woman, or a man who was locked in a coffin as a child to face his discipline, and was sexually abused by his orphan caretakers on a daily basis.  My story seems to pale in comparison to theirs.

“Based on these friends’ stories …. I give my own story a 3.”

Where did I learn that we, as humans need to measure our feelings? If our lives are not measured, then it doesn’t exist, right?

Here is where I get vulnerable.

Now, I also find myself, on occasion, judging others about their stories by comparing them to my own story.  Yes, I’m human.  Yes, I feel guilty about this, too.  When I read someone’s Facebook post that complains about their job, and how they don’t feel appreciated for their work.  My mind begins to wander with thoughts such as:

“Oh that’s a bummer {sarcastically}  Well, try losing your dream job because your newly promoted sexist, homophobic supervisor is on a mission to fire you from your 20 year career just because you are a gay woman, and causes you to file a federal law suit that will last for 4 ½ years …. and will eventually be settled out of court, and meanwhile you will never be able to return to your dream career because you have been “blacklisted” by other agencies.”

“Based on this friend’s “job” story … I give my story a 10.”

Have YOU been secretly scoring other people’s stories?  Are you brave enough to admit it?  Notice I am NOT scoring the other person’s story…. Just my own.  Should I give theirs a score?  Should I score YOUR story?

The answer to this question is a resounding, “NO!”

Comparing my life to others has been a daily journey, and I work at staying empathetic to everyone’s feelings and experiences.  Most of the time I battle with feelings around why I shouldn’t complain, or feel badly about ANYTHING in my life.

“There are children starving all over the world.”

“A parent just lost his child in a car accident.”

“Women are being raped and beaten every day.”

My story, and your story, should never be compared to any other story. Your stories, and the effect they have on your life should only be scored in relation to how they make YOU feel, not anyone else. If what you are experiencing right now is, for you, a 10 on the painful story scale, then that is true for you, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

I have learned a great deal from Indrani Goradia and Dr. Brené Brown about being vulnerable and speaking my truth.  I practice empathy on a daily basis, and I have compassion for peoples’ stories, at any level.  I have even arrived at, what Brené Brown calls, “excruciating vulnerability,” and have begun the process of “deconstructing shame.”  (Listen to Brené’s TED talk here).

I invite you to pursue this simple “Call to Action” right now.  Go to our website, and listen to the “Live-A-Brighter-Life” podcasts.  You can also find them on iTunes.  Within our teachings, we will give you the tools to help you reach out, speak your truth, and find shame resilience.  YOU are worthy.  YOU are loved.  YOU matter.


With love & light,

Amy Dier
Director of Education & Training | Indrani’s Light Foundation


Thank you to Dr. Brene Brown and the Daring Way Survey….

relax-569318_1280I am very fortunate to belong to a community of practitioners called the Daring Way™.

I got here the hard way, by doing the classes from Dr. Brene Brown and taking tests and following their rules and guidelines.

It was a lot of work and I loved every step of the way.

I was very happy to participate in a research survey that the community sent out a while ago and decided that I should do my part to further along the research that is the foundation of her amazing books and teachings.

So I logged in a began.

It was long, I was getting a little tired of it and considered not finishing but then something about the answers that I was giving really hit me hard.

A lot of the questions were about my feelings of worth and whether I felt my life was going anywhere and also, did I frequently compare myself to others?

Half way through the survey it occurred to me that my answers to statements like “I do not like myself” or like “when I think of my accomplishments I feel I have done less than others” ( I did not pull these from the survey, they simply reflect the sentiments from the survey), I found myself answering almost never.

What did this mean?

Simply put, it means this:

  1. I liked myself.
  2. I feel accomplished by any ones standards.

This occurred to me about half way through the survey THEN I was pumped to complete it.

I even told myself to BE HONEST, that Brene wanted honesty so I reread the stuff I had answered and carefully answered the rest…

And what do you know?!

I actually like myself and I actually feel good about what I am doing and feel good about being able to laugh at my mistakes and do not allow others to determine what I think of myself.

This is NOT at all reflective of how I felt just 10 years ago.

As recently as 2005, I was still comparing myself to others, beating myself up for not being up to par or not as good as almost everyone else in the my world. I was not a good enough coach, or writer, or business person, or mother or, or or. The list went one forever.

Also I was always catastrophizing. If one thing went wrong, it meant everything else was going to go wrong. If someone disappointed me, it meant I would be doomed to a lifetime of disappointments.

It was quite exhausting to live this way. I knew no way out.

I put on a great show of being outwardly confident but I was always on the look out for evidence that I was not good enough.

The evidence always came.

It came in the form of people’s words about my life choices (I was a bad mom because I was pursuing a new dream) or in the form of a societal or cultural message
(You are traveling too much. Who takes care of your home? One family member even asked who cooked food for my husband.)

The evidence was ALL around me.

I had to really close my ears and eyes to all the messages I was hearing. All the nay saying that was trying to get into my psyche.

I even had to listen to close friends and family tell me how silly and unrealistic my dream of doing something about ending violence in the world was.

After all, I did not have a degree in psychology, or any experience in the real world. I never worked at a not-for-profit nor had I had a job in the last 25 years!

Yes, they were lined up to tell me the way I was living was not acceptable to them, not at all.

I had to be deaf and blind to those voices all around me and to try to tune into the voices within my own heart.

The inner KNOWINGS that I wanted to do more, be more than a housewife (I had done that for 20 years) and I wanted to create change in my world.

I saw that survey as a way to go back into my past and to tell the younger me that she would be fine!

I gave her examples of the questions that would have brought her to tears just a few years before, those same questions that now brought a huge smile to her face, warmth to her heart and ONE single sweet tear to her eye.

The tear of clarity.

The tear that acted like a magnifying glass through which she saw herself in all of the accomplishments and all the experiences and all the loving people surrounding her.

I sent my younger self blessings and thanks for not ever giving up and always finding ways to burn off the fog of unworthiness and shame.

Thank you Dr. Brene Brown. You may still be collecting your data, but you have already shown me my results.

Daring greatly, rising strong and thanking you,

A grateful student.

A thunderstorm of shame….

images via ebonyYou’re not really my friend … so you can’t share our hotel room!

These words were said to me about 24 years ago by two women who I thought were my friends.
Let me set up the scenario.
I was pregnant with my second child and really quite pregnant….about 7 months.
I was a member of a women’s club that was hosting a girl’s weekend and I was attending. One last hurrah before the baby came.
I had brought two women into the club and so I approached them and said, “Let’s share a room!” They said sure!
A few days later, one of them came to me and said, “Katherine and I spoke and we realized that we are not that good of
friends with you….so we don’t want to share a room with you.”

Holy Crap….did she really just say that?
Yep, she did!
I went home and wept!
I wept like a baby.
Listening to Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability has allowed me to rewrite the script of that painful incident and to keep it now in my arsenal for great examples of when self-love could have helped me.

Listening to these CDs is like eating 12 scoops of ice cream too fast and getting brain freeze but you would never think of throwing the ice cream away.

If we can remember the hurtful moments in our lives, we can give ourselves the empathy that others could not show and we can use those hurtful memories to help others in pain.

We can call upon our hurtful past to become an empathetic listener to someone else.

Let us remember without falling prey to the pain.

Let us live BIG and BE vulnerable. It is the only way to whole-hearted living. Thanks Brene.

Love and light,


We are THEY…

In the book I Thought It Was Just Me…(but it isn’t), Dr. Brene Brown cautions us to not divide the world into US and THEY.

We have all experienced loss, addictions, failures, etc. To draw a random line around the mistakes that THEY make VS the mistakes the WE make makes no sense.
The only thing it does is keep us separated from seeing the other as being human and needing empathy and compassion just as much as we do.

How many groups of THEY do you recognize in your own life?
Different religions?
Different cultures?
Different side of the tracks?
Different skin color?
Different accents?
Different sexual orientations?

The list of THEY is endless, isn’t it?

Does the list make you feel safe?
Does the list allow you to stereotype more easily?
Does the list allow you to be a better bully?

Can you ever be SURE that the beliefs you hold about all the groups of THEY are true?
If you cannot prove it, why continue to believe it?

Perhaps this week you can stick your toe into a shallow pool of a THEY group, perhaps you will find something quite surprising. Perhaps you will find someone who feels quite like you.
Someone who has fears like you.
Someone who loves and wants the best for their kids, much like you.
Someone who reads bedtime stories to their kids at night, like you.
Someone who has been betrayed by life, like you.
Someone who just wants to be understood, like you.

I hope you take a chance. I hope you are sweetly surprised.

Love and light,

Is school making your child crazy?

Is school making your child crazy?

“The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.” Susan Cain, QUIET

For the parent of a child who is being bullied, the above quote must be especially poignant…that is, if you are lucky enough to be told that they are being bullied. This blog is not about bullying but about being SHY and being ashamed of being shy.

Dr. Brene Brown tells us that shame says “I am bad.”
If a child has learned to be ashamed of being shy and is cajoled or taunted to be more outgoing, this child may feel that being shy is so bad that their existence is useless.

I feel that many shy children feel invisible. They know they have the right answers, but are afraid to put their hands up and speak out loud in the classroom. They cannot get full marks on any report card because a grade is being given for “class participation”. Many want to participate and when they work one-on-one they can have exciting
conversations, but in a group they freeze.

Telling this child to be something other than what they really are will not make them change. As parents and educators we have to learn how to work with the introversion so that the child can feel pride about their ability to be reflective, and introspective. We have to show them that their minds works differently and beautifully and show them how to find ways to be a part of the group, but in a way that feels safe to them.

“The truth is that many schools are designed for extroverts,” says Susan Cain.
So what do we do as parents and advocates for our introverted kids?
“When encouraging shy children to speak…it helps to make the topic so compelling that they forget their inhibitions.”

As parents and educators we can take sincere interests in the activities of the introverted child and use the love of those activities to encourage them to talk.

During the summer months, while kids are out if school, the time is right to begin the project of speaking up and out in the safety of one’s home.
These skills are important, if only to be able to tell others to stop bullying them. Being able to speak up for ones emotional health is  skill that we must teach our children. They are the future leaders.

In the May 21st, 2012 issue of Fortune Magazine, Doug Conant, the former Campbell Soup CEO gives some great advice.

He says:
1. “Don’t change who you are…people are not mind readers- you need to let them know if you are shy.”
2. “Say what’s on your mind…I’ve met so many leaders who realize that telling your colleagues something that is on your mind is so much easier than keeping it in.”
3. “Know who you work with…You might just find that you have introverts embedded within your organization who are natural-born leaders.”
4. “Find alone time…Introverts get more energy by having quiet time, compared with extroverts who find energy by being around people.”

This advice from Mr. Conant shows that introverts in the work force have a lot to contribute, and as parents/educators of these future leaders we owe it to them to prepare them for their whole lives…a life full of other people and challenges beyond those of childhood.

I hope you take up this project, it is well worth it.

Love and light,

When I say NO… Do you hear MAYBE?

A case study in Nonviolent communication.

I just got a call from a charity for Breast Cancer Research asking for
a little something for underprivileged women.
This is how it began:
Me …Hello
Them…Is the lady of the house there?
Me…Who’s calling?

Note that I did not say… Oh yes, I am the lady of the house…

Them… This is so and so and we serve women who cannot…..

Me… I support breast cancer research and will not be able to support
your organization.

Them…Please do not draw the line, these women cannot pay their rent….etc

Now I am pissed, she did not hear my NO.
But then I think of the book Nonviolent Communication that I have
been devouring and I think, oh what a great time to use it here.

So I quickly do:

O- observe what is happening.

F- feel my feelings… I knew that I was feeling irritated and I
started down a road of “if she only knew how much I donate”… Then I stopped

N- What are my needs and what are her needs? She needs me to give her
money and I need to be true to my established charity budget and not go over
that amount.

R- What request am I going to make based on MY needs?

So let’s return to the conversation

Them…Please don’t draw the line….
Me…Amanda, I support Breast Cancer research and I am NOT going to
give anything more at this moment.

My voice was clear and precise and very purposeful.
She heard it and responded.

Them… Oh, thanks for supporting Breast Cancer.
Me… You are welcome.

Here’s what I did:
I knew my NO.
I knew why I was saying NO.
I did not let myself get caught up in the story of her population, not
out of not caring for them but out of a very caring place for me and
where I put my charity dollars. I really believe that I am doing what
I can do and I will do more when I decide it is time to do more.

If you go back up to the top of the post you will see many little
things that could have derailed me…
-Request for a little something
-The story of who needs the help
-Her telling me that I have drawn a line

NONE of those things matter when you are standing on solid ground.
This makes me sound like a right winger. I am neither a left winger
nor a right winger. I am simply following the plan that I set out at
the beginning of the year before the charities had a chance to get to
my emotions.

Emotions have a big role in what we give and who we give to BUT giving
has to support the bigger picture and must come from the heart.

This lesson is especially true for your energy. Money is easier to
find than energy.

A dear friend, Gretchen Pisano (www.soundingboardink.com) taught me
this past week that we all have units of energy and we must manage our
energy, not just our time and I am adding not just our other resources.

When people make requests of you that involve energy expenditures, you
have to use:

O… Observe what is happening without evaluating… You will know if
you are evaluating if words like should and must pop into your

Here are some examples of observations and evaluations from Nonviolent Communication by Rosenberg
1. John was angry with me yesterday for no reason.
2. My father is a good man
3. Pam was first in line every day this week.
What was an observation VS evaluation here?

F…knowing what we are feeling and expressing what we are feeling.
I realized rather quickly after she said ” drawing a line” that I was
getting irritated, and I could have spoken instead to “how dare you
tell me I am drawing a line blah, blah, blah” but I just FELT the
feelings and then asked myself what I wanted for me…what is my
request of me, not of her? I could wish that no one hits me up for
money anymore, but I can only be in charge of what I will do when it
does happen.

Here are examples from Rosenberg about statements of feelings
1. I feel like hitting you.
2. I feel good about what you did for me.
3. You’re disgusting.
What is a feeling VS a non-feeling here?

N…knowing what you need is taking responsibility for your feelings.
In my case with Amanda, I was irritated because I had an unmet need
for HER to know that I am generous and that I do not draw lines around
charity giving. I am very purposeful and give quite freely. In this
case, Amanda’s job was to get my money. My job was not to keep it from
her but for ME to KNOW what I was willing to do and not do. I met my
need for acknowledgement of generosity by telling myself that I was
generous and by communicating it to her very purposefully.

Here are some examples of needs from Rosenberg… Remember a need is
taking responsibility for YOUR feelings.
1. I feel frustrated when you come late.
2. I feel disappointed that you said you would do it and you did not.
3. I feel scared when you raise your voice.
Which of the above statements takes responsibility for their own feelings?

R…request of others in order to enrich life for us…Rosenberg
In this case vague language will not help clarify the situation… E.g.
you know Amanda, I kinda give a lot and I feel so bad and I don’t know
what to do because…
This language does not serve me. Being clear and requesting what I
want is called for here. I could have said “I do not want you to ask me for a donation”, but I chose to focus on saying what I do and
saying what I was not going to do.
I also did not use a negative as in “I won’t give to you” I used a
positive as in “I give generously already”.

Here are some examples of requesting statements that are very clear
and not so clear.
1. I want you to understand me.
2. I want you to stop drinking.
3. I would like you to drive at or below the speed limit.
Which statements are clear VS vague?

This way of communicating is not easy, as we have been taught to
use language to onshore what we truly feel. This way we won’t feel
A brilliant woman, Brene Brown tells us that vulnerability is the key to
being who we are and getting what we want from life.
Hear her Vulnerability TED talk here.

I also recommend that you read
Nonviolent Communication.

If you are having judgments of whether I should have given in to the
charity that is a whole other conversation called a moralistic
judgment. You can have a VALUE of charity giving, but when you start
judging others on HOW much and how often they SHOULD give, then we are
getting on our moral high horse.

Love and light

Oneupmanship, Dismissal, Pity does NOT equal EMPATHY.

Woman with Arms Crossed by Picasso

I was at a meeting recently and one of the ladies offered something sad about a parent’s death. The look on her face clearly said “I am in pain, I don’t expect anyone to fix it, I am just sharing and I just need an ear”. Clearly, at least to me.

What happened then was not uncommon, but for the first time I was able to observe and to notice what was happening in the woman who shared.

Woman A piped up with “You think that’s bad, when my parent died….blah blah blah” (read oneupmanship).

Woman B piped in with a louder voice and said “Well, it’s just stuff, right?” (read dismissal).

Woman C chimed in with “Oh poor you” (read pity).

I kept looking at the face of the woman in pain and she got really stiff and then completely shut down, as she hugged her arms across her chest tighter and tighter. It was fascinating and sad. I was fascinated at how much information she was giving with her facial expressions and body language and equally stumped as to how the other women were completely oblivious to her. I was also saddened as to the reactions of the other women. They seemed to have been trapped in a world where their opinions were the only ones that accounted for anything.

These women are all very good friends. Each one thought that they were supporting their friend. But each one had their one agenda and that was to make her feel better by making her problem seem less significant.

We all do this, without even thinking. What she needed was an empathetic ear. This was not empathy.

 According to Arn Ivey, Paul Pederson and Mary Ivey, empathy is defined as “the ability to perceive a situation from the other person’s perspective. To see, hear, feel the unique world of the other.”

Brene Brown tells us that “real empathy takes more than words- it takes work….Our words are only as effective as our ability to be genuinely present and engage with someone as she tells her story.”

Further Dr. Brown describes empathy as “the skill or ability to tap into our own experiences in order to connect with an experience someone is relating to us.”

Some ways to communicate true empathy could look something like…

“You must feel really bad about that” or

“That must have really hurt you” or

“I see that you are hurt by that”

None of the above, attempts to fix.

None of the above, places our perspective on the other or negates what the other is feeling.

All of the above, places the person in pain as the focus.

The next time someone offers you the chance to show empathy, take it as a gift to you. That person is giving you a unique opportunity to practice a skill so lacking in our world.


Love and light