I came across Brene Brown social psychologist today on TED talks and I was really struck by what she had to say about the power of vulnerability. As a social researcher in the field of social work, she had always been taught to lean into the discomfort of the work. Later she recalls what one of her professors told her ‘if you cannot measure it, it doesn’t exist’. Well thats sums up the modern paradigm of social science = reductionism.
She choose ‘connection’ as the main focus of her research. She understood connection as what gives purpose or meaning to our lives. Its the reason we are here. Shame according to Brown is the fear of disconnection. I am not good enough = vulnerability. She began to see how we have to allow ourselves to be in order to connect. To allow ourselves to be seen and I would add be heard.
Brene then focused on people who have a strong sense of worthiness. Those who feel a sense of love and belonging. She found that they believed that they were worthy of love and belonging. She describes them as whole hearted people. They live from worthiness. The exhibit courage, compassion and connection. She says they have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion for themselves and as a result they make connection as a result of begin real. They are willing to let go of who they thought they should be. They embrace their vulnerability. She finds that which makes them vulnerable also makes them beautiful.
We live in a time where we have the highest number of people who are in debt, who are obese, who are addicted and medicated than ever in history. We believe that in numbing the pain of vulnerability we can be happy. But this is not the case. WE also numb joy, gratitude and happiness.
She concludes her talk by suggesting ‘I am enough’ right now and encourages us to practice gratitude and joy. I think there is something in her understanding of vulnerability that we can learn from in a world dependent on us believing its wrong to feel vulnerable – so as to sell bigger cars, more insurance policies, more drugs and more ways of changing our bodies through plastic surgery, more make up or nicer clothes.
What do you think?