Wisdom For Extraordinary Living
Being Vulnerable In Bali. But Why?
I never said that living an extraordinary life would be easy.
I just said it’d be worth it.
Lately a luscious crush on academic-researches has arisen in me. Maybe it’s the nerdy glasses, or the astute way they sloooooowly whisper elongated words like “quantitative” and “qualitative” into my earlobe. Call it puppy-love, woof-woof, but because of the research that these researchers are researching, your boy is buzzing with a new idea of what’s possible with his work. (Your boy = me.)
In this age of information mania, the amount of cow-, horse-, and bull-shit that constantly comes bombarding us isn’t just overwhelming, it’s downright damaging. We hear fraudulent “facts” and accept them as reality.
Gossip becomes the gospel. Rumors become reality. Theories become theology.
And I can’t front. I’m just as guilty as the next girl, getting all horned up over false promises that temporarily fill my fantasy for stimulation. But with my years of practice comes experience, and I’m starting to draw a distinction and notice the difference between lust, love, and the soul-juice in between the two of them.
That’s where my passion for academic, or as we might even boldly declare it, scientific, research comes into play. Instead of merely speculating on some seductive ideas that sound sexy, researchers can spend years reviewing countless cases in order to come to their conclusions. They do this both quantitatively (based on statistics/quantity) and qualitatively (based on stories/qualities).
Brene Brown is one of those quality people who’s got it going on. She’s got long-term relationship written all over her. A qualitative researcher who’s drawn some remarkable conclusions from years of research on vulnerability and shame – I can get with that. I’ve highlighted some of the *key takeaways* from two of her TED-talks below.
Take a peek at it, and tell me if she speaks to you like she speaks to me (slowly and sexy, of course).
The power of vulnerability
Connection is why we’re here! It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. (Living On Purpose, baby!) This is what it’s all about. Neuro-biologically, it’s how we’re wired.
But if connection is so essential, why is it that we’re not all deeply connected with a constant flow of fulfilling relationships?
Shame! Shame unravels and kills connection! Shame is universal – everyone has it unless they have no empathy and ability for human connection. It sounds like this: “Is there something about me, that if other people find out, then i won’t be worthy of connection?” In other words, “I’m not [blank] enough.”
So, how do we move past shame into having deep connections in our lives?
Excruciating vulnerability is the answer to dealing with shame. In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen – authentically, which means vulnerably too!
There’s one variable that separates people who have a strong sense of love + belonging from the people that don’t. And that variable is *worthiness*. The people who have love + belonging in their life believe they deserve it. They feel worthy of it!
But why do some people feel worthy? And what’s different about the people who feel worthy then the ones that don’t? This. They have:
- Courage, to tell the story of their lives wholeheartedly and be imperfect.
- Compassion, to be kind to themselves first, and then to others.
- Connection, that comes as a result of authenticity – letting go of who they think they should be in order to be who they are.
People who feel worthy fully embrace vulnerability! They believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful. They have the willingness to say “I love you” first. They have the willingness to do something where there’s no guarantee. They have the willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. These things are fundamental to people who have a high sense of worthiness. Whoa.
We live in a vulnerable world and the way most people deal with it is by numbing vulnerability. As a society, we’re the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult group in US history. It’s the (ass-backwards) world we live in.
Butttttt, and here’s a fatty……..
The problem is that you can’t selectively numb emotion! You can’t say here’s the bad stank stuff, I’m not gonna feel these things. When we numb the bad emotions, we numb joy, gratitude, and happiness too! And then, we feel empty and go searching for meaning and purpose. It becomes a dangerous cycle.
So, how do most of us deal with vulnerability?
- We try to make everything that’s uncertain, certain.
- We try to be perfect, but we rarely can and it makes us feel unworthy of love + belonging.
- We pretend, that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people, but it does!
There’s a better way to deal with vulnerability. And it’s to let ourselves be seen. Deeply seen. Vulnerably seen.
To love with our whole heart, even though there’s no guarantee. To practice gratitude and joy in our moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I really love you this much?! Can I really believe in this so passionately?! Can I really be so fierce about this?!”
Instead of catastrophizing everything, just be grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means you’re truly alive.
We need to believe that we’re worthy enough to move past our shame. And we do this by becoming courageous enough to be vulnerable and create authentic connections that actually give our lives a deep sense of purpose! Word. :)
Next up, let’s look at shame.
Listening to shame
Vulnerability is not weakness! It’s the opposite. Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage! But what does it mean to be vulnerable?
It means to put yourself at emotional risk, exposure, and uncertainty. Vulnerability is letting ourselves be seen – authentically and honestly.
Shame is the swampland of the soul. We don’t wanna live there, but we wanna walk thru and find our way around.
When we go to do something great, shame is the gremlin that shouts:
- You’re not good enough.
- You’re not smart enough.
- But your wife left you.
- I know there’s things that happened to you growing up.
- I know you don’t think you’re pretty enough.
And if we can quite that voice down, shame comes back and says, “Who do you think you are?”
Shame is not guilt. Shame is a focus on your self. Guilt is a focus on your behavior.
Guilt is, “I did something bad.” Shame is, “I am something bad.”
Guilt is, “I’m sorry I made a mistake.” Shame is, “I’m sorry I am a mistake.”
Shame is highly correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, violence, aggression, suicide, and eating disorders. It’s an epidemic in our culture.
Shame feels the same for men and women but it’s organized by gender.
For women, most shame comes from a web of unattainable, competing, and conflicting expectations of who they’re supposed to be. It’s the perception that they’re supposed to be able to do it all, do it perfectly, and never let them see you sweat. Shame is a straitjacket.
For men, shame is being perceived as weak. It’s not showing emotional control, not pursuing work first, not pursuing status, and not being violent enough.
Here’s the thing about shame.
Shame grows from secrecy, silence, and judgment.
So, what’s the cure for shame?
Empathy! Empathy is the antidote to shame.
The two most powerful words in times of struggle are “me too.” If you can say (and mean) those, you can connect. And remember, connection is what life is all about!
If we’re going to find our ways back to connection, vulnerability is going to be that path. But don’t think you’re gonna wait until you’re perfect to be vulnerable, because you’ll never (ever, ever) be perfect. And even if you were, that’s not what we wanna see. We wanna see you dare greatly in your times of vulnerability. It’s how we connect with you! :)
They made the CHANGE... What about you?
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