The Wholehearted Life: Oprah Talks to Brené Brown
Brené: Yes. There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.
Oprah: You've got to be open enough to risk failure.
Brené: The only people who innovate are the people standing in the arena getting their butts kicked on occasion.
Oprah: You write about how the scarcity culture has also affected religion. How it's gone from something we use to empower ourselves to "You're wrong and I'm right."
Brené: Yes, it's one of the big shields we use—it's armor. My way's gotta be the right way, because I'm banking on it being right because I'm scared to death. But faith minus vulnerability and mystery is extremism.
Oprah: Oh my gosh. Please say that again.
Brené: Faith minus vulnerability and mystery equals extremism. If you've got all the answers, then don't call what you do faith.
Oprah: That is so good. But let's talk for a moment about how fear is expressed, because I don't think everyone understands that anxiety is fear, jealousy is fear, greed is fear—they're all elements of a fear-based culture.
Brené: Yeah. Addiction is fear. Eating, drinking, drugs.
Oprah: Right. They're ways we numb ourselves, because we feel powerless. That's what food is for me.
Brené: Me, too. Food is my numb-er. And for those of us who do it chronically and compulsively, it's an addiction.
Oprah: You write that wholehearted people "cultivate a resilient spirit" by letting go of numbing and powerlessness. This is one of your ten guideposts for wholehearted living. I love this list.
Brené: You know, these ten guideposts that emerged from my research are what led to my breakdown.
Oprah: Because you yourself followed, what, two out of the ten?
Brené: Yes. And even at two, I was probably cheating. So I had to put my data away. I couldn't write the book until I'd been in therapy for a year and a half. I went to my therapist with an Excel spreadsheet and said, "Here are things I need more of. Go."
Oprah: You told her that you didn't want to talk about all that mother stuff, or your childhood....
Brené: No. I wanted strategies, bullet points. I wanted her to fix me fast. You know, one of the things that had come out of the data was that perfectionism, which I struggle with, is not about striving for excellence. It's a way of thinking and feeling that says, "If I look perfect, do it perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame and judgment."
Oprah: Perfectionists are ultimately afraid that the world is gonna see them for who they really are and they won't measure up.
Brené: There's no question. God, it's so slippery. I'm like a recovering perfectionist. For me it's one day at a time.
Oprah: How does it show up in your life?
Brené: In my work. Or if we've missed church for a couple of Sundays, you'd better believe my kids are going in starched outfits that next Sunday.
Next: Why Oprah believes she and Brené are "soul mates"