The Power of Vulnerability

– TED Talk by Brene Brown

Vulnerability in my own life is something I could tell you lectures about. Not that I am familiar with the roots and the deepness of this very feeling, but as a person with a tendency to easily feel pain, shame or guilt. For a long period of time, if not, for as long as I can remember, I perceived this vulnerability of mine as a weakness. I constantly searched the help of therapists, mentors or guidebooks – in hope to eliminate this emotional weakness and to reach a state of perfection in the long run.
After hearing the TED Talk by Brene Brown on vulnerability, my perception changed dramatically.
When we humans have this inherent desire for connection, it comes naturally that it’s something we strive for. In this understanding, we can analyze shame as the fear of disconnection:

“Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection? … No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.” The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.”

She explains, that shame is only a symptom of our fear to disconnect with people. But how work on it?

There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute. Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

This made me realize the beautiful side of my own vulnerability I’d never seen before. I started to understand that, despite fears and doubts of the future, we need to be courageous to fully follow our hearts. Not everything may end up perfect. But as we embrace our imperfections and allow vulnerability to our hearts, we live our lives to the fullest. Even though all the fears I had before don’t disappear, I may just accept vulnerability while following my heart.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Thank you Brene.

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