My wife shared this TEDx video of researcher/story-teller Brené Brown, which amounts to an introduction to Brown’s work on studying how feelings of shame, vulnerability, not feeling good enough or worthy (etc.) get in the way of us feeling happy, doing what we want to do, and being satisfied with our lives.
The words she uses–shame, worthiness, vulnerability, courage, etc.–struck such a strong chord in me, even bringing me to tears, and I feel a bit of shame admitting that; those are feelings one tries to hide from others and numb ourselves to…
And that’s exactly Brown’s point.
Below are my notes, mostly verbatim or slightly paraphrased quotes from her talk.
Shame is fear of disconnection, that I won’t be worthy of connection.
We feel: I’m not good enough, I’m not enough.
But to allow connection, we have to allow ourselves to be seen for what we truly are.
That makes us vulnerable, sharing who we are.
In her studies, Brown examined people who possessed a sense of worthiness, who also have a strong sense of love and belonging.
Those who had a strong sense of love and belonging, who felt worthy, also BELIEVED they were worthy of love and belonging.
That belief was the only difference between the two groups: those who felt worthy and those who struggled to feel worthy.
What keeps us out of connection is our fear that we are not worthy of connection, belief we are not worthy of connection.
(What causes that belief? Better: What can we do to believe we are worthy?)
Wholehearted people have a sense of courage–tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. They had the
- courage to be imperfect.
- Compassion to be kind to themselves first…and then to others
- and had connection as a result of authenticity.
They let go of who they thought they should be to be who they were.
They fully embraced their vulnerability,
In fact, they believe that their vulnerability is what makes them beautiful.
Willingness to say I love you first, no guarantees, in relationships, etc.
The way to live is with vulnerability, stop trying to control and predict.
We numb our feeling of vulnerability, BUT we cannot selectively numb emotion.
When we numb the vulnerability, we also numb joy.
To avoid vulnerability we do a number of things:
We make the uncertain certain. Religion goes from a belief in mystery to a belief in certainty that I’m right and you are wrong.
We blame, a way to discharge pain and discomfort. another way to distract, numb feelings of vulnerability.
We try to be perfect and expect perfection in others.
When the reality is we are imperfect, and wired for struggle, BUT we belong and are worthy.
We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people.
- let ourselves be seen. deeply seen, vulnerably seen
- Love with whole heart, even though there’s no guarantee
- practice gratitude and joy
- believe we are enough
“There is no prerequisite for feeling worthy.”