The Brené Brown Effect: Unpacking the Often-Heard Euphemism ‘If it’s Meant to Be’

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We’re often led to believe that whatever is ‘meant to be’ will find its way into our lives effortlessly — and I used to think this was true. After all, it seems like good sense, right? Rather than becoming fixated on circumstances beyond our control, we should surrender to the present moment and let things unravel on their own time.

But waiting for things to happen without our intervention can become passive at best and magical thinking at worst. In her new Netflix special: The Call to Courage, renowned author and researcher, Brené Brown, talks about what it means to show up in our lives. Vulnerability, she says, is in choosing courage over comfort.

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In other words, we shouldn’t play it safe when it comes to what we really want. We shouldn’t just wait around hoping things will fall into place on their own. This doesn’t mean, however, that we should aggressively pursue something without measure. But a lot of the time, it’s our own fear and limiting beliefs that get in the way of going after the things that bring us the most joy.

We’re afraid of having the hard conversations at work or with loved ones that could open us up to change, so we rely on passivity. We hope for the best and don’t allow ourselves to be seen.

According to Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection book, “wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, 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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What this means for us in the larger picture is that we can’t magically wait for things to occur effortlessly. Some of the best things that will come to us in the way of love, parenting, and professional success involves sheer grit and perseverance.

It’s okay for us to surrender to what we can’t ultimately control, but what we can’t do is use ‘what is meant to be’ as an excuse to not put in the hard work of showing up in our lives.

Ultimately, the things we desire the most won’t come to us without our active, wholehearted, and vulnerable participation.