The Best Brené Brown Quotes On Vulnerability, Love, And Belonging

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Dana Staves

Staff Writer

Going through life with an apron tied on and a pen in her hand, Dana Staves writes about books and food. She also writes a little fiction. She lives in Maryland with her wife, their son, and their cat.

When I signed on to write a collection of Brené Brown quotes, I thought okay, cool, I’ll find a few quotes, I’ll do a little pretty quote-y Pinterest surfing, and this will be fun and easy. And while it was fun, and relatively easy, the thing I didn’t expect was the way Brené Brown quotes would bubble up through my subconscious, informing the conversations I had and the ways I looked at situations. Suddenly, I was holding forth about why my wife and I need to make time for ourselves even though we have a toddler and it’s hard because NO ONE BELONGS HERE MORE THAN US BRENÉ BROWN SAID! There are worse occupational hazards, I assure you. And I have to say, bolstering my courage and my heart work and my mothering and wifing with some good ol’ Brené Brown wisdom has only helped me. So join me:  here are a floppity-jillion Brené Brown quotes, culled from her books and her TED Talks, for you to enjoy. Let’s bolster up and get in the arena!

TEDx houston:  the power of vulnerability

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ted:  listening to shame (2012)

“Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives.”


“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”


“To create is to make something that has never existed before. There’s nothing more vulnerable than that.”


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“[…] I did not learn about vulnerability and courage and creativity and innovation from studying vulnerability. I learned about these things from studying shame.”


“The ability to hold something we’ve done or failed to do up against who we want to be is incredibly adaptive. It’s uncomfortable but it’s adaptive.”



“If you want to make a difference, the next time you see someone being cruel to another human being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal!”


“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences—good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.'”


“Nothing silences us more effectively than shame.”


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“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”


“Trying to escape media influences in today’s culture is as feasible as trying to protect ourselves from air pollution by not breathing.”


“That impostor or phony feeling at work or school rarely has anything to do with our abilities but has more to do with that fearful voice inside of us that scolds and asks, ‘Who do you think you are?'”


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“Courage gives us a voice and compassion gives us an ear. Without both, there is no opportunity for empathy and connection.”


“Laughter is evidence that the chokehold of shame has been loosened. Knowing laughter is the moment we feel proof that our shame has been transformed. Like empathy, it strips shame to the bone, robs it of its power, and forces it from the closet.”

“The culture of shame is driven by fear, blame, and disconnection, and it is often a powerful incubator for issues like perfectionism, stereotyping, gossiping, and addiction.”


“Judging has become such a part of our thinking patterns that we are rarely even aware of why and how we do it. It takes a great deal of conscious thinking or mindfulness to even bring the habit of judging into our awareness.”


“Shame and self-esteem are very different issues. We feel shame. We think self-esteem.”


“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”


“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”


“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”


“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees—these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace.”


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“Healthy striving is self-focused:  ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused:  ‘What will they think?'”


“If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”


“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.”


“Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.”


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“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”


“One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on ‘going it alone.’ Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into ‘those who offer help’ and ‘those who need help.’ The truth is that we are both.”


“The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button.”


“Cruelty is easy, cheap, and rampant.”


“Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue:  You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn to courage by couraging.”


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“Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”



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“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”


“What we know matters, but who we are matters more.”


“Numb the dark, and you numb the light.”


“Even to me, the issue of ‘stay small, sweet, quiet, and modest’ sounds like an outdated problem, but the truth is that women still run into those demands whenever we find and use our voices.”


“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.”


“Wholeheartedness. There are many tenets of Wholeheartedness, but at its very core is vulnerability and worthiness; facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough.”


“Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.”


“Hope is a function of struggle.”


“I believe that owning our worthiness is the act of acknowledging that we are sacred. Perhaps embracing vulnerability and overcoming numbing is ultimately about the care and feeding of our spirits.”


Brené Brown Quotes From RISING STRONG (2015)

“We are born makers. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.”


“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.”


“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”


“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”


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“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness—even our wholeheartedness—actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.”


“The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity.”


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“We can’t rise strong when we’re on the run.”


“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it’s choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”


“Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving. We need to give, and we need to need.”


“Regret is a tough but fair teacher. To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, no opportunity to be braver with your life.”


“We can’t be brave in the big world without at least one small safe space to work through our fears and falls.”


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“Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.”


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“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”


“There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanization—the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.”


“Never underestimate the power of being seen.”


“But what we know now is that when we deny our emotion, it owns us. When we own our emotion, we can rebuild and find our way through the pain.”


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If you’re finished crying, make sure to hit the comments to share your favorite Brené Brown quotes.