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! 🙂


Organic Solidarity

I recently watched Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk called, “Bring on the learning revolution!” It’s interesting and empowering, because you’re made more aware of how the education system just doesn’t work. This talk may not be as big as his first one called, “How schools kill creativity” – although I highly recommend both – but it does touch on a few important points about how the world works and how there is so much more potential within ourselves than we’ve been made to realize.

One of them is that life is not linear; it’s organic. We create and shape our lives as we go along. We can’t see straight ahead, because there is no straight ahead. There are detours, roundabouts, one-way streets, freeways, broken paths, and no exit signs. It’s scary, yes. But it’s also liberating. It makes us think about what we want, where we should go, and who we are. And we learn all of this along the way.

Shouldn’t education reflect that? Shouldn’t our schools teach us that there is no clear, direct path to success? Or, for that matter, that success is different for everyone? Sir Robinson mentioned that schools take on a fast-food approach: everything is standardized, everything is the same, and drifting from those standards is wrong. In his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, he writes:

One of the essential problems for education is that most countries subject their schools to the fast-food model of quality assurance when they should be adopting a Michelin model instead. The future for education is not in standardizing but in customizing; not in promoting groupthink and “deindividuation” but in cultivating the real depth and dynamism of human abilities of every sort.

I actually love how this reminds me of what I’ve learned in my sociology classes. Thank goodness I’ve remembered something from school! Seriously, though, this just rings true for me. While I may have succeeded in the fast-food framework of the education system, I still felt a bit off. I didn’t feel like me while I was in the school system. In fact, it was only after being out of school for a year that I felt like I was truly getting to know myself again. Imagine how somebody who’s dropped out would feel.

It goes to show that Sir Robinson and Émile Durkheim were right in that advanced (and honestly, better – that’s me and Ken Robinson, not Durkheim necessarily) societies feature people with individual talents and aptitudes, with specialties that serve the community as a whole in order to move it forward. “Organic solidarity,” is what this is called. Now that I’m away from my sociological theories class, I can fully appreciate that term. We’re all different and special, and we need to nurture that. But, we’re all in this together. We need to work together, make use of our differences, and create a better world.

It’s a truth that I’m working towards.