Do Your Work

“You only have two options—you do vulnerability knowingly, or vulnerability does you. People are taking their pain, and they’re working it out on other people. And when you don’t acknowledge your vulnerability, you work your shit out on other people.”

{Brene Brown}

At our best, we are dandelions, our seeds spreading out from us wherever we go. Every interaction is a puff of wind, taking more of the best we have to offer towards and onto the people in our lives. Great relationships are the accumulation of those seeds and the positive ways that they take root in one another’s lives.

white dandelion under blue sky and white cloud

Photo by Pixabay on

At our worst, we are manure spreaders, every interaction a chance to cover others in the worst smelling, least desirable parts of ourselves. Toxic relationships are made up of the accumulation of the manure we spread around and the negative ways it impacts other’s lives.


It’s a wonderful irony that manure is widely used to make things grow. To do so, it must be transformed; it must be put in the ground and combined with other elements before it can become a medium for growth.

So it goes with us. We can transform our own pain – the pain that becomes our manure –  by acknowledging it, by admitting to how we use and misuse it and by offering reconciliation to ourselves and to others. When that happens, our worst inclinations become source material for the realization of our better selves.



Do the Work

“If we do not transform our pain we will most certainly transmit it.”

Richard Rohr

There’s a line from the poem “Out on the Ocean” by David Whyte that conveys Rohr’s meaning with visceral urgency:

“Always this energy smoulders inside, when it remains unlit the body fills with dense smoke.”

That unlit energy is the potential and possibility within each of us to transform ourselves from who we are to who we want to be.

If it is not activated it turns into acrid smoke that at first only chokes us, but in time finds its way to others in the form of resentment, jealousy, harshness, impatience and intolerance.

It can be grueling to bear our own pain, the wounded, unrealized or unfinished parts of ourselves. So we either keep allowing it to spill over onto loved ones and colleagues or we decide to do the work to transform it from an anchor to a sail.

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.