I was recently fascinated by Brene` Browns’ TED Talk called The Power of Vulnerability. Actually, I watched it a number of times, engulfed in excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity and awe. Here was a woman who spent a handful of years studying vulnerability, took a break part way to have an all out personal battle with her own understandings of vulnerability before delivering the gift of her message to the world, with over 5 million views on TED.

“Shame is the fear of disconnection. The fear there is something about me that if other people see, will make me not worthy of connection”.

“Excruciating vulnerability underpins shame”

“What keeps us from connection is the belief that we feel we are not worthy of love and connection”

                                    ~ Brene` Brown

Brene` weaves us through this journey of her incredible research into vulnerability and I have chosen to share it with you here because in writing about it, I am provided with another avenue to really draw in this reality.

Brene` reminds us that shame is universal, everyone has experienced it, no one wants to talk about it and the less you talk about it, the more you have of it.  So lets get talking. What’s the big secret about anyway? There is one. Human beings are neurobiologically wired for connection and we fear being excluded and therefore disconnected.

Her research discovered that there is one variable that separated people who have a sense of worthiness, love and belonging, and people who struggle for it and wonder if they are good enough. It is the belief they are worthy of love and belonging.

Brene` gave the name “Wholehearted” to the group of people with a belief they are worthy. What these people all had in common was this;

Courage – to tell the story of who they were with their whole heart. They had the courage to be imperfect.

Compassion – the ability to value and show compassion to themselves first because you cannot give this to others if you can’t give it to yourself

Connections – they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were.

And the final one.

Vulnerability – they fully embraced vulnerability. They didn’t talk about it being uncomfortable or excruciating. They believed what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful. They believed vulnerability to be necessary. They had a willingness to say I love you first and a willingness to do something where there were no guarantees and to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.

Vulnerability is universal.

Brene` came to the understanding that vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and worthiness, while simultaneously being the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.

Brene` enlightens us with the knowledge that we try all kinds of tactics to get around the vulnerability. I wonder if any of these resonate with you?

We numb it – through spending, eating, drinking, substances and an overuse of medications. She is sharp in reminding us that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You cannot numb hard feelings without numbing joy, happiness and gratitude. Numbing these emotions leaves us feeling miserable, exacerbating our vulnerability, only to repeat the cycle.

We make uncertain things certain. By controlling them we think we are escaping the vulnerability. We blame others because blame is a way to discharge pain and discomfort.

We perfect.

We pretend.  That what we do doesn’t have an impact on people. We just need to be authentic and real and to say sorry.

Brene`s parting wisdom is this; We need to let ourselves be deeply seen, to love with our whole hearts even when there is no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy in the moments of terror – instead of catastrophising, being grateful to feel this vulnerable because it means we are alive. To believe we are enough, when we work from this place, we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

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