Vulnerability and Authenticity


Yet another reason why I love TED talks. Brene Brown gives an insightful talk on vulnerability, and since it’s coming from an expert researcher, none can debate it’s validity. One take away lesson: life is messy, embrace it. Following are my notes from the talk.

We all need connection. That’s where it starts. But when we think about relational connection, the things that come to mind are disconnection–failures. The thing underlying our instances of disconnection is shame, or a fear of not being worthy of connection. Worthiness is the issue–the thing that makes us feel loved or not. Those who feel a strong sense of love and belonging, also believe they are worthy of those things. Those who don’t feel accepted and loved don’t believe they are worthy of that connection with others.

What does someone who believes they are worthy look like? People like this are wholehearted. They have:

  • Courage to be imperfect.
  • Compassion to be kind to themselves and others.
  • Connection as a result of authenticity. They are willing to let go of who they think they should be in order to be who they are–something you must be willing to do in order to have connection.

You must fully embrace vulnerability, believing what makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.

Vulnerable people are those that are willing to say “I love you” first; to do something without expecting return; to invest in relationships that are not guaranteed to work.

When we don’t want to be vulnerable what do we do?

  • We numb vulnerability. We cover it up, hide it, medicate it. But we cannot numb one emotion, without numbing and losing the others–gratitude, joy, compassion, creativity.
  • We make the uncertain certain. Religion has transformed from a faith and belief in mystery to “I’m right. You’re wrong. Shut up.”
  • Blame: a way to discharge pain and discomfort.

When children come into the world…

  • Our job is not to say: “She’s perfect,” then make sure she makes the tennis team and Yale.
  • Our job is to say: “She’s imperfect and wired for struggle, but she’s beautiful and worthy of love and acceptance.”

Let yourself be seen. Love with your whole heart, even thought there’s no guarantee. Practice gratitude and joy in the moments of terror when we are uncertain about the person, the situation. Believe you are enough–you are worthy. Be kinder and gentler to yourself and the people around you.

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