The Power of Vulnerability

I finally watched Brené Brown’s TED talk called The Power of Vulnerability, and I can’t remember the last time I had eagerly taken notes, lecture-style, and wanted to absorb the information I was gaining from her speech. I absolutely needed it and loved it and agreed with it.

Here are the notes I had taken, and each one is an important bit of insight about vulnerability:

Shame = fear of disconnection = “I’m not ______ enough.”

The less we talk about shame, the more we have of it.

Shame is universal… and if you can’t feel it, you are not humanly capable of empathy.

In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.

Underlying shame is excruciating vulnerability.

Brené Brown wanted to beat vulnerability into the ground. She wanted to defeat it. She was the type of person to want to overcome seemingly negative and unnecessary things in order to prove that she was better and above those things. I found this part so interesting, since I have to admit that I’m kind of the same. This is something that I know we’re all working on. Pema Chodron said to meet these negative emotions with softness, because they’re absolutely necessary parts of our lives and inner working. (This also reminded me of the movie Inside Out, when the audience comes to the beautiful realization that sadness can lead to empathy.)

People who possess a sense of worthiness – as in they have a sense of love, belonging – believe they are worthy of love, belonging. They have courage (what Brown specifies as having heart), compassion, and connection (what she specifies as authenticity). They fully embrace vulnerability (and realize that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful) which they found necessary.

Brown says that there are three things humans do that are dangerous:

We numb vulnerability (through obesity, addiction, etc.). …But you cannot selectively numb emotion – when you numb the bad things (shame, grief, etc.), you numb the good ones (joy, gratitude, etc.).

We make the uncertain certain. With religion, we have made this into a belief of being right/wrong; with politics, we have made blame a way to discharge pain and discomfort.

We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people.

She ends the talk by suggesting that we practice 4 things:

  1. Let ourselves be seen, deeply and vulnerably.
  2. Love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee.
  3. Practice gratitude and joy.
  4. “I am enough.”

Let me know if you have seen this talk and learned from it! 🙂