Do you have a sense of purpose and meaning in your life?
Do you have a sense of belonging?
Do you love and feel loved in return?
Or do you always feel like you’re always looking for ‘something’?
Come on. Admit it. How often does ‘I’m not worthy’ pop in to your head? Or perhaps you think ‘I’m not good enough’?
Well according to Brené Brown, her research shows that underneath those little phrases is excruciating, absolutely excruciating vulnerability. Paralysing fear and shame… of being seen, of connecting, of putting ourselves out there, and risking a response or an outcome we didn’t want. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of showing yourself up. Fear of letting on you didn’t know something. Fear of rejection. Fear of being ‘found out’. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown.
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong and love. In a wonderfully poignant, funny TED talk (there’s a link to it below) she tells a succession of stories in an effort to share a deep insight from her research. One that sent her on a personal quest, that has lasted a decade, to know herself as well as to understand humanity. What is that insight? It’s the power of vulnerability.
People with a strong sense of love and belonging BELIEVE they are worthy of love and belonging. The only difference between people with a strong sense of love and belonging and those that don’t have it, is that BELIEF.
Those people who believe had the:
- Courage to be imperfect.
- Compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others. You simply can’t practice compassion for others if you’re not kind to yourself first.
- A connection – as a result of authenticity.
- Let go of who they thought they SHOULD be, to be who they are…
- AND they fully embraced vulnerability.
They had a willingness to say ‘I love you’ first. They could breathe through waiting for, what could be, bad news. They would do something, even though there was no guarantee things would turn out as they wanted. They invested in relationships that might or might not work out.
Vulnerability puts so many of us in a state of fear that we try any way we can to numb it. Wee go on a shopping spree. We scoff that muffin that just calls to us at the coffee shop. We have an extra couple of glasses of wine. Or we pop the pills that take the pain away. We try to make the uncertain… certain. We try to make everything… perfect. We try to pretend…that what you do doesn’t have an effect on other people.
But we don’t just numb that fear of vulnerability. We numb EVERYTHING. We numb ourselves from feeling joy, delight, pleasure, excitement, enthusiasm, gratitude, happiness, and every other positive emotion.
So we become miserable. We continue to hunt for purpose and meaning in our lives. We hunt for a sense of belonging.
As a result we feel more and more vulnerable. The overwhelming fear returns. And we head for that credit card, the muffin, the glass of wine, or the pills, all over again. And the vicious cycle continues.
So what if you decided to break that cycle. Right now. Put yourself out there. Let yourself be seen. Embrace vulnerability wholeheartedly.
- Love with your whole heart.
- Practice gratitude and appreciate moments of joy.
- BELIEVE – ‘I am enough’
Stop screaming, start listening. Be kind and gentler to yourself and to others.
What are you going to do to embrace your vulnerability today?
- Brene Brown interviewed by Oprah in a two-part episode of “Super Soul Sunday” (ted.com)
- Oh the shame… (the delightful Brené Brown) (beamagazine.wordpress.com)
- wholehearted parenting manifesto (by brené brown) (multiplerealitiesblog.com)
- Vulnerability and shame (powerinyourhands.wordpress.com)