Friday, June 1, 2012

The Power of Vulnerability

Time for you to stretch again.

I recently watched 2 short (20 minutes), yet what I consider to be, profound videos by Brene Brown given during a TED lecture.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  It's an interesting non-profit organization that is devoted to spreading ideas.  I'll include the links below.  I highly recommend watching them but I'm going to summarize what I thought were the important points.

Vulnerability is not weakness.  That myth is profoundly dangerous.  It's our most accurate measurement of courage.  Vulnerability is the path to finding our way back to each other.  Connection is why we're here.  It's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.  

Shame is the fear of disconnection.  It's a fear that there's something about me, that if people knew, would make me unworthy of connection.  Nobody want's to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it.  What underpins shame is vulnerability.  
In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be really seen.

The only difference between those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, and those who struggle for it is:  the former believe they are worthy of love and belonging.  The latter are kept out of connection.  They believe they're not worthy of it.  The former have the courage to be imperfect and authentic.  They embrace vulnerability.  They see it as necessary.  They are willing to do something where there were no guarantees.  

Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it's also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.  We numb vulnerability - spend, eat, addictive behavior - but then we also numb joy and gratitude.  Then we don't have purpose and meaning, so again we numb.  It becomes a dangerous cycle.

Shame prevents us from being OK with failure.  Not being OK with failure prevents us from trying, daring, and succeeding.  The antidote to shame is empathy.  The 2 most powerful words when we're dealing with struggle are:  Me too.

Let yourself be seen.  Love with your whole heart.  Practice gratitude.

Listening to Shame

1 comment:

  1. I think this story from a pastoral counselor is an appropriate example of the power of vulnerability. Notice the juxtaposition of 'horrible and awkward' with 'stronger and more mature'.

    Then, a few months ago, she (a client who had felt unwanted and abandoned most of her early life, but had been healing) was deeply hurt by a close friend. God had used this friend to help facilitate her healing from rejection and abandonment, especially in terms of her father. "I felt that he [the friend] completely misunderstood me," she said. "It was a sensitive and very vulnerable moment for me, and his response was not so sensitive. I closed off and cut him out of my heart. Even when he phoned to straighten things out between us, I just went through the motions of talking surface level, but could not open my heart again to him. I decided that an empty, fringe relationship with him—like with all others—is safer. Nobody has to know me or see my heart or know when I am hurt, especially not the people who have the potential to be close to me."

    Susan was catapulted back into the childhood trauma of rejection. She literally felt her soul sliding back into that old familiar state of a frozen and closed heart. Suddenly she became aware that "I was giving isolation a foothold again and really asked God to help. I had to take the hard step to take the initiative to phone my friend and to indicate that the relationship was important to me. It was horrible and awkward to be that vulnerable. But all along, my heart knew I was fighting for an imperfect but very precious relationship that God put in place. The relationship is restored now and maybe it will be stronger than before because I am one step stronger and more mature."