Below is a TED talk by Brene Brown about the role of shame and vulnerability in how we connect with other people.

She has a Ph.D. in Social Work and, while doing research on what makes connection unravel, she discovered shame and excruciating vulnerability are at the core of that.

So she set out on a one year study to “deconstruct shame and outsmart vulnerability.”

It turned into a six year study and she gathered thousands of stories. She learned that those that are the most connected with other people believe they are worthy of love and belonging.

They believe this because they have courage, according to the Latin definition of the word, which means the ability to tell your story wholeheartedly. Because of this they aren’t afraid to lean into discomfort and aren’t as much in service to anxiety management systems.

They also fully embrace vulnerability. It’s not excruciating for them because they believe vulnerability makes them beautiful.

She finally had to begin to deal with her own difficulties with vulnerability on a personal level. At the 12:00 mark in the video she talks in a self-deprecating way about her year of therapy, which she describes as a “street fight” with vulnerability.

During this street fight she learned:

* You can’t selectively numb emotions. When you numb one you numb them all, including the positive ones like joy.

* We tend to want to make the uncertain certain, even in religion (reminds me of my recent post about getting over certainty).

* We pretend what we do doesn’t affect others (this includes not just us as individuals but corporations, the government, etc.).

* We try to perfect ourselves and, more dangerously, our children.

To get beyond this, she says we need to let ourselves be seen, practice gratitude, and love with our whole hearts.

Sounds easy, but how many public and private places do you know of where you are comfortably vulnerable? I’m reminded of what some people who have done 12 Step programs have said about how everyone there was so open with each other about how they are messed up. Such a spirit doesn’t permeate many of the public spaces of our life. It’s also difficult to be comfortable with the vulnerability of those private anxious moments of waiting for the results of a medical test, waiting for a child to come home who is past curfew, initiating a conversation with your spouse that you know will be difficult, etc. etc.

Anyway, here’s the video:


Filed under: Conversation/Communication


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