The Power of Vulnerability

One of my amazing friends directed me to this Ted talk about vulnerability. Since I know you’re all busy I decided to summarize the key points. But watch the video if you can because Brene Brown is absolutely charming and insightful.

Brene is a social worker and she wanted to understand what causes shame. While she was doing her doctoral thesis on shame, she interviewed thousands of people and realized that shame comes from the belief that something about you is not good enough; if someone were to find out the ‘truth’ of you they would not love you.

Although everyone she talked to had experienced shame, people tended to fall into one of two categories: those who had a strong sense of love and belonging and those who struggled for it. The people who had a sense of love and belonging believed that they were worthy of love – as simple as that.

Courage was the common character trait of someone who felt worthy of love. She points out that courage is not the same thing as bravery. The Latin routs for courage translate to “tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” Wow! The Latins were really onto the HeSo project 😛

Here are three things that all these courageous people had in common:

-they accept their imperfections

-they are compassionate towards themselves

-“they are willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they are”

Most importantly, a person must embrace vulnerability. These people who had a strong sense of self-worth believed that vulnerability was part of what made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability as being difficult or easy – just a necessity.

“They talked about the willingness to say, ‘I love you’ first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.  They thought this was fundamental.”

This conclusion really bothered Brene because she couldn’t understand how vulnerability can cause the very pain that makes people feel shame, but it can also be the cure. It bothered her so much that she needed to go into therapy for a year to wrap her brain around the idea.

It’s true that vulnerability can open you up to pain and rejection, but it can also open you up to personal connection and acceptance. I was afraid to admit that I was feeling doubt. I thought since my blog is about inspiring people and staying positive, I shouldn’t talk about negative feelings. However, so many people reached out to me and said they feel the same way too sometimes. And it really made me feel better.

She argues that today’s society works so hard to numb the negative feelings that we also numb the positive. We try to be so certain that we become close-minded. She gives the example of organized religions transitioning from the power of faith to the power of being right.

We need to start accepting some of the inherent struggles of life. We need to start accepting that we will never be perfect. We need to start questioning ourselves and being honest…and loving the truth of ourselves.