Daily Archives: December 28, 2013

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 29: #bullshit #worthiness #respect #enabling


Welcome to Day 29 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”

We are humming along here. Just about to wrap this thing up for a doggie bag.

Here is today’s quote:

Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are


Granted: everyone is born into this world with no prison record or NSA scandal hanging over their heads, but I will say this: Worthiness does have requirements. You can’t be a jerk to people and expect them to want to be with you or to trust you after you’ve burned them a few times.

This is where Brown would be waaaay better as a counselor in a prison than I would.

I used to hear comments like Brown’s all the time growing up from my mom. It was complicated with her, she had her own agendas. As much as I wanted to trust her and to feel safe around her, the fact is that it never really happened. Who is “worthier” than the other in that situation?

It’s hard to say. I certainly was in no real position to judge although I sure tried.

I have to look at this etymologically now, it’s sort of bugging me.

worthy |ˈwərT͟Hē|adjective (worthier, worthiest) deserving effort, attention, or respect: generous donations to worthy causes.• having or showing the qualities or abilities that merit recognition in a specified way: issues worthy of further consideration. • good enough; suitable: no composer was considered worthy of the name until he had written an opera. noun (pl. worthies) often derogatory or humorous a person notable or important in a particular sphere: schools governed by local worthies. DERIVATIVES worthily |-T͟Həlē| adverb. worthiness noun ORIGIN Middle English: from worth + -y1.

Meh. Brown is losing me.

So I see the definition above and it makes me feel safe. In that definition, worthiness implies a prerequisite in deserving respect or attention.

What Brown is proposing above does not make me feel safe; in fact it makes me feel vulnerable, as though if I don’t show someone their worthiness, then I AM the bad guy. I am suspect.

I will sort of concede that’s not where she’s going, but I feel like my reaction is not at all unconventional. I would be willing to bet that if a total stranger in tattered clothing and disheveled condition showed up at her door that she’d not just let him or her in! without wondering about a reference or context or some manner of prerequisite.

C’mon… let’s all drive down to Houston and try it! I’ll not shower for the entire trip down and eat all my food in the car and use the clothes I’m wearing as my napkins. I’ll be at your place in an hour. Just gimme a moment to roll in some dog shit first before I get in my car.

prerequisite |prēˈrekwəzət|noun a thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist: sponsorship is not a prerequisite for any of our courses. adjective required as a prior condition: the student must have the prerequisite skills.

Now this is bugging me.

She’s again, as far as I’m concerned, not making good writerly sense. It’s madness.

What I think she means to say is that everyone deserves respect as a fellow human being on this planet.

What I would LIKE to think she also means is that behaviors and actions speak louder than words and notions. I would so much sooner trust the fireman than the bank teller with my life in a crisis situation. I would so much sooner trust the fireman than the homeless guy for helping me with my car. I just would. Call me nuts.

I think Brown has really lovely kumbaya moments that sound nice in the books and make readers nod their heads and feel good about themselves and feel supported, but honestly, what if it’s misplaced? What if those people who are nodding their heads and saying, “HELLS YEAH, BRENÉ! SING IT! JIMMY COME LISTEN TO THIS!” just cheated on their taxes and stole money from their kids’ college savings accounts to gamble in the next state because they make really selfish and shitty choices?

Where does Brené Brown draw a line? Where does her brand of empowerment become simple and egregious enabling?

I dunno. But I can’t at all accept this quote on its terms. I need more. It’s not thick enough and I think it bears consideration that we all scratch our heads a little and not feel like jerks if we decide TO NOT grant our time or deem a person worthy who has repeatedly hurt us or others. No. Sorry.

No, I’m not sorry.

Sometimes we need to include ourselves worthy of not taking on someone else’s shit into our lives. Sometimes, enough is enough. Action shows worthiness.

I think that yes, worthiness absolutely has prerequisites. The opposite is just pollyanna bullshit.


Thank you.