Last week I showed the 87th No More Secrets (NMS) Movie Night first started in October 2002. We historically have five Movie Nights per year always in the last week in Feb, April, June, August, and October. This Movie Night was of course connected thru the gift of Zoom, our 5th Coronavirus Movie Night. It seems to be working as we had over thirty-five men attend.

This installment of Movie Night was a presentation called The Call To Courage  a 2019 documentary film directed by Sandra Restrepo. The documentary presents Brené Brown as she discusses how bravery could arise from engaging with our deepest vulnerabilities. Brené Brown has published TED Talks and books earlier about the subject, and this documentary continues exploring the topic. The film was released by Netflix on April 19, 2019.

This is her official biography: 

Dr. Brené Brown 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 GreatlyRising StrongBraving the WildernessI Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” and her latest book, Dare to Lead.

Brené hosts the Unlocking Us Podcast and the Dare to Lead Podcast. Her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 50 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 in April 2019.

Brené lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie.

And it barely scratches the surface.

The movie is a mix of difficult lessons, touching anecdotes, lighthearted stories and one big, overwhelming message, perfectly summarized by her daily morning mantra:

Today I’ll choose courage over comfort. I can’t make commitments for tomorrow, but today I’m gonna  choose to be brave, and I know what that means.

A message that sounds wonderfully brave and optimistic, but is so difficult to enact, even the vulnerability expert had to talk herself into it. Prior to her famous TEDxHouston talk- which has now been watched 40 million times – she made a last-minute change, scrapping her usual presentation of ‘variables mitigating self-conscious affect’ and instead talking about vulnerability in a vulnerable way.

In the aftermath, Brown had what she describes as the worst ‘vulnerability hangover’ imaginable. Fully committing to falling down this toxic rabbit hole, she began reading the hateful comments directed at her – ranging from quips about her appearance to death wishes – which served to only solidify this regret.

The fact that this was such a significant choice for an expert on vulnerability says a lot about how hard this process truly is. So many of us go through life holding back, playing small and staying quiet, too afraid of falling down, making mistakes, losing face and being exposed. Brown’s documentary brings home why for those trying to pursue a rich, honest and brave life, this just won’t cut it.

Stumbling across an inspiring quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“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, the Man in the Arena. April 23, 1910.

Her style is relatable yet powerful, giving us the sense that we know her intimately and that she sees us, with all our flaws, and is holding us accountable.

As I watched her presentation, I couldn’t help but hear “recovery speak” from beginning to end. Her concepts are right out of any 12-step program. What a powerful message. Here are some of her quotes:

1. “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”

2. “What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?”

3. “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

4. “When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, ‘Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again’—my gut reaction is, ‘What a badass.’

5. “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”

6. “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”

7. “I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”

In the last chapter of the basic text of the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) Big Book called “A Vision For You” the author writes that in your wellness: “There you will find release from care, boredom, and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead”. Those words written in 1938 are way beyond just “don’t drink”. The documentary and Brené’s work illuminate a path forward, well past just not doing bad behavior. As it says in the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) Big Book “There is no limit on upper human functioning.” All roads lead to becoming your highest and best self. The path is clear. Stay the course. There is much work still to be done.

If the isolation of COVID19 has been leading down an unhealthy path, we here at No More Secrets have a flashlight and the solution to help with a self-corrective course of action. Contact me and remember Misery Is Optional.  

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