Bren'e Brown, a social worker/researcher/storyteller started an adventure into the unknown and discovered what human connection is. Over some time, she grappled over vulnerability. Her expanded perception transformed her life. She shared what she found in the years of research and interviews which went into this discovery. She left a huge impression on many through the passion in which she shares.
Connection is why we are here. It is found in the core of human existence. The foundation of why we are here is to be connected to others and to feel a sense of fulfillment. This brings meaning to our lives. We are made to have connection with others. Brown gave an example about being evaluated by a boss and how they might share 37 things that you did good on and one thing that could be an opportunity for growth. The whole time the employee would be fixated on that one thing that needs work and overlook all of the positive. She found out this is the same response she got from her interviewees. When she asked people about love, they tell her about heartbreak. When she asked people about belonging, their response would be bring back memories as to when they were excluded. When she would bring up connection, they only remembered experiences that led to disconnection.
Six weeks into this research she discovered that the study of connection unraveled had fear and shame linked all throughout it. Shame is a fear of disconnection; 'is there something about me that others see that they won't like?' Its universal and we all have it. Those who don't feel shame are incapable of feeling love or empathy for human connection. The foundation of shame is vulnerability. Not feeling good enough, smart enough, rich enough, beautiful enough is the essence of where the problem lies. Vulnerability that is that excruciating sense that I may be rejected. The fear of shame is feeling is like being unworthy. In order to allow connection to happen, one must allow ourselves to be seen who we really are. This was something that Brown struggled with during her research. She initially thought she could out beat it or out smart vulnerability, but it didn't work out this way. Rather, she realized that after 6 years of hard work, she took the people that she interviewed, divided them into people who really had a sense of worthiness and a strong sense of love and belonging and those who struggle with being worthy. The one variable that separated the two was the belief of worthiness.
She gathered all of the people she researched who had a sense of worthiness and discovered that wholehearted people have the essence of vulnerability. They had in common a sense of courage. The definition of courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart; the courage to be imperfect with compassion to be kind to themselves. They had connection along with authenticity. Letting go of who one should be, in order to be who they were, was the key in this character development. This is essential for connection. Ultimately, they fully embraced vulnerability. What made them vulnerable made them feel beautiful. They had the willingness to take the first step towards love and connection. They saw vulnerability as a necessity. Brown saw that they had the willingness to do something where there was no guarantee and the willingness to invest in relationships, no matter the outcome.
She began to realize that her research was the opposite of vulnerability, which was the core of problem that Brown discovered. Research is the process in which we control and predict the outcome of our data, vulnerability on the other hand is capable of being wounded and is difficult to defend. This information she found led her to have a breakdown. She went to a therapist to try and work this out. Over time, she came to be okay with vulnerability, which changed her life in the most positive way she ever experienced, and led to reaching farther in her discoveries as ever before.
The reason why we struggle with vulnerability is because we numb vulnerability. Here are some examples that she gives when defining vulnerability: having to ask her husband for help because she is sick, initiating sex with one’s husband or wife, being turn down, asking someone out, getting laid off, laying someone off, waiting for the doctor to call back. These examples clearly state how vulnerable we all are. It is evident according to Brown, that we are a culture that numbs vulnerability. The problems that this country faces are debt, obesity, addiction and the over use of prescription drugs. We can't selectively numb fear, shame, grief, and vulnerability without numbing good emotions like, joy, gratitude, or love.
When we choose to live without vulnerability, we are trying to make the uncertain, certain while we are striving to be perfect and pretend to fix the problems. Religion has gone from a belief of faith in mystery to certainty. Politics is much like this. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are and what happens is there is no more discourse or conversation, but blame which is a way to discharge pain and discomfort. We perfect our outward appearance to look like someone else, like using botox or liposuction. Our children are who we perfect because we are striving for perfection in ourselves and it reflects on those who we raise. However, it's easy to overlook our job as parents when we don't let our children know that they imperfect but they are deserving of love and belonging. We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on other people, like in the corporate scene such as bailouts, recalls and oil spills. We just want authentic truth.
As I watched this video for the first time, I realized how much of what she was saying really underlined much of the personal problems that I have had with past friendships. I've gone through heartache after heartache of losing friends. Partly because I was the stubborn one who wouldn't back down or allow vulnerability to take its course. I've sought after counseling and the whole nine yards, only to feel empty handed when in the end I was yet again, left alone. I guess my problem is when I become friends with someone I don't think about the possibility of not being this person's friend until its over and too late. Just recently, without me actually doing anything, one of my friends dropped off the grid of communication with me all of a sudden. I wanted to see if I did something to bother her, so I emailed her to see if I did something. Her response was short and to the point saying I didn't upset her but she has other priorities. It was hard for me to feel vulnerable, but I have to realize going into relationships being vulnerable and being myself isn't a bad thing and that I am learning to accept me for me even if others don't.
In conclusion, in order to have a connection with others we must cling to vulnerability, embrace uncertainty, and practice gratitude and joy; even when it’s scary. Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love. When we are ready to accept vulnerability and believe that we are enough we will then be ready to love with our whole hearts.
Not all who wander are aimless, especially those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond image. -- Mona Lisa Smile
Hi! Thanks for coming by and checking out my blog. If I had to tell you anything about myself and why I write, it would be this...
I love to write about things that inspire me or captures my attention, or merely what is happening in my life. I don't proclaim to have it all figured out, but I do know this, that I am simply human that has problems and I am not afraid to expose them here. Vulnerability and being authentic is something I strive for, even if it looks ugly at times.
So please feel free to come and have a conversation with me. I can't wait to dig in deep with you!
I am learning how to live loved by God and embrace His grace that will help me fly in freedom. Let the wings of grace take me, all of me, for who I am and not for who I should be.