I have written previously about Brene Brown’s show, The Call to Courage, that is on Netflix. Also, have previously said that I think it is worth watching. I would like to return to the show and talk about her and vulnerability.
Dr. Brown has written numerous books and has one of the top ten TED Talks of all time. She has made professional videos, and I have gotten CEUs listening to her talk about different issues, including shame and vulnerability. These are topics that often arise in couples therapy and with most couples, so she is often very helpful with her researched information. But she is also funny, making it enjoyable to listen to her. Additionally, she will often “practice what she preaches,” that is, she will be vulnerable in person when she presents.
In her most recent video, The Call to Courage in Couples Therapy, there is a part of the show where she talks about a swim she and her husband take across a lake that they often visit. Not only did I like this part of her talk, I have had couples in therapy bring up the conversation.
Interestingly, as the story unfolds of Brene talking before, during, and after the swin, you find out that she really wasn’t communicating well (he was preoccupied himself) and she figures out, as do we the audience, that she was doing all of this processing in her head and/or by herself. But you see that she builds things up and builds upsetness and she does that all by herself. And we all can do this, “catastrophize” it is sometimes called. And her husband was doing it as well, as he was caught up in his own worrying. She describes the details of their vulnerable conversation as they figure out what has happened and what each of them are thinking.
Though Dr. Brown’s example shows how the communication is not clear and how we can make things worse in our heads, it also shows how, when we talk to each other and clarify, when we really communicat and have a dialogue, and when we are vulnerable with our partner, there is often understanding, effective communication, and the potential for change and intimacy, and the potential of knowing and understanding one another.
So you could use her example of a conversation and vulnerability as a model of what not to do (think your partner is hearing you when the partner is not, build issues up in your head without finding out more from your partner) and what to do (be clear, make sure you are understood, listen to your partner, do not shame/blame). These are the kinds of things she brings up but that also come up in couples therapy and are so important for most couples to learn to do better.
Dr. Robert G. Kraft is a career psychologist in Omaha, NE. He earned his doctorate, as well as his bachelors and masters before that, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Has practiced in Nebraska ever since.
As well as maintaining his practice, Dr. Kraft is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Creighton University School of Medicine, where he teaches residents about psychotherapy.