"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness." Brené Brown
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Today I'd like to talk about a woman who impresses me. She seems to be a very natural, kind, intelligent, and funny woman with many flaws that you automatically love because she is not afraid to show them. I first came to know her through a TedTalk video called "The Power of Vulnerability" that has more than 12 million views, and I thought about doing one of my usual reviews on a TedTalk video that I found interesting. But then I saw she had done another speech on TedTalk, as impressive as the previous one. Which lead me to another one on another channel, than to an interview, than to see she had written a few books which, by the way, seem really interesting. So I decided that I would make my article about her, Brené Brown, rather than on one of her speeches, since all have the same subject, just approached in different ways with light shed on different aspects of it.
Brené Brown is a research professor, and her field of research is vulnerability, shame, worthiness and courage. She says that shame is the fear of disconnection, of not connecting with others, the feeling that we're not good enough. Everybody feels that way, at least all those who have human empathy. What she first tried to do with her research was to "deconstruct shame in order to understand how vulnerability works and outsmart it". She found out that there are two kind of people. Those who have a sense of worthiness, who have a strong sense of loving themselves and belonging. And those who do not. And the only difference between them is the fact that the first ones believe they are worth love and belonging. Then, she studied the first category of people, those who feel worthy, and she found out that what they all had in common was the courage to face who they are and show their imperfections, compassion to themselves first and thus to others too, and connection with themselves because of their authenticity. These people accepted to be who they were, and did not try to be who they wanted to become, which thus lead them to connect with others too. The last and most important factor they had in common, which is a result of the three previous ones, was that they embraced vulnerability as an essential part of themselves.
She says that what we generally do is that we numb vulnerability, even though we live in a vulnerable world. But it is impossible to numb our vulnerabilities whenever we want, because if we do, then we numb happiness, love and joy with them. And then we become depressed, and live in a cycle where, because we reject emotions that are uncomfortable, we force ourselves into rejecting comfortable feelings too. She then adds that blame is just "a way to discharge pain and discomfort", and that what we do is to pretend that what we do doesn't affect people in our life. What we must do is let people see us, deeply, love wholeheartedly, be grateful for each and every part of ourselves and other people. And most importantly, to internalize the feeling that we're enough.
She says that vulnerability is not a weakness. Furthermore, it is a measurement of courage to be vulnerable, and let people really see us. For her, shame is important, we need to understand the feeling, and then go around it. Not ignore it. Nor drown in it. What we need to do is to dare greatly, and by doing so, thus exposing ourselves with our flaws to the world. But instead of gripping this shame feeling, we should accept those flaws as a part of ourselves and continue what it is that we want to do. To accept our failures and flaws is uncomfortable, but it is adaptable, and it makes us stronger. She says that shame is an epidemic in our culture and that in order to go beyond it is to understand how shame works and how it affects us, in order to understand that the anecdote to shame is empathy. We have to stop living in the future and believe that when this or that is going to happen in our life we're going to do this or that that we want to do, because we're never going to be that someone we want to be if we don't accept ourselves. We are just trapped in a feeling that now is not the moment, OUR moment, that we're still not enough, with a deep disappointment of how we are today, but great hope for what we wish to become. But that's never going to happen, and that's why we oh so want it, because it feels like not us! But if I am me, and you are you, there will always be me in me, and you are always going to be you, no matter the changes in both our lives. So why not accept who we are, love ourselves for who we are, know our flaws (even if we'd prefer not to have them), and do NOW what we want to do with the potential we have today? I believe that that is the way to grow, because when you let people see you, you might hear your flaws, but also your virtues. And why would you mind hearing both these aspects of your personality when you already know and accept them? You just wouldn't. You'd even be the one to laugh at them, and nobody would thus make a big deal out of them, since you don't mind. It is a vicious circle, and you're the only one who can turn it around and make your life a positive place.
Here are her two Ted videos. The first one is "The Power of Vulnerability":
The second one is "Listening to Shame":
And here is the link to her website:
Have a great day, and keep your mind sharp!