One of my favorite TED Talks is Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability. Clearly I’m not the only one who likes it because it has over a million views!
Brené shares how she started to study human connection and quickly discovered that there is one thing that completely unravels connection. Shame! Shame is a feeling of unworthiness; we think we aren’t thin enough, smart enough, rich enough. Shame is different from guilt. When we feel guilty we think “I did something bad”. When we feel shame we think “I am bad”. Guilt can be a constructive emotion, often motivating people to improve their future behavior. Shame is highly correlated with depression, eating disorders and addiction. It prevents people from connecting.
Brené identifies four characteristics that differentiate wholehearted people who believe they are worthy of love and belonging from those who don’t feel worthy. Wholehearted people have:
1) Courage – they tell the story of who they are and admit they aren’t perfect.
2) Compassion – they are kind to themselves and others.
3) Connection – they are authentic, willing to let go of who they think they should be in order to be who they are.
4) Vulnerability – they are willing to say I love you first or to do something where there are no guarantees. They believe that what makes them vulnerable is what makes them beautiful.
According to Brené, vulnerability is the core of meaningful human experiences. It is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love. In order to embrace vulnerability we have to let ourselves be seen and to love with our whole hearts, even though there is no guarantee.
Each of us is worthy of love, belonging, and joy. Practicing self-compassion and accepting our own imperfections can help us dare to be vulnerable and live wholeheartedly.
Curious to learn more about vulnerability? Check out Brené’s book Daring Greatly.