I have been listening to a women named Brené Brown Talk about Vulnerability and shame. I like such a cheat taking great research and ideas and restating them but I can not get them out of my head. There were things I have believed in my heart for years and struggled to make true in my life for longer than that. I have had this idea ruminating in my heart of what I wanted to write here for days, weeks, OK, well in between the Buffy episodes and the Holiday, any way, but could not quite get my mind formed around the notion I was grasping at. After listening to them I ran across a quote I want to start out with, a quote from Elisabeth Elliot "There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for." Amazing right, unless you look at all the things that kill us silently, we die all the time inside to protect ourselves
from being vulnerable: from the feeling of standing naked in a room of people with all of who we are, spread out without guarantee of anything. People: unless they are nudest or expeditiousness die all the time to avoid that feeling, it is when we can go there that we will be free. not actually standing naked in a room of people that is crazy talk. The thing of nightmares for most but the nightmare of all: to be vulnerable with something more precious: our hearts and the real us to bear him or her and let that be OK, not only OK, the norm of how we live. Most of us would rather be in the room naked as horrific as that may seem to some; because we could blame it on the alcohol or at least hide the real us behind the shock factor or beauty; the image of our outer self holds.
Brené Brown is a women that researches and tell the story of what the data tell her, she has spent 13 years so far looking at shame and vulnerability. I am sure she has other things too but I am going on what the videos say. she has found and written about Vulnerability this well my notes an expounding on of it.... People who feel worthy have a strong chance of worthiness not because of anything other than they believe they are worthy. Those who think this way can be best described as wholehearted. They have the curage to be imperfect, compassion, to be kind to themselves and others, connectedness a result of being genuine letting go of the idea of who they should be and accept themselves as they are, and embraced vulnerability, is what made them beautiful and it being fundamental.
Vulnerability it's the birthplace of shame, fear, and loneliness, but also joy, creativity, and love. In those three things, you can't have them if you are not vulnerable. To be creative is to put your heart out there to love, it's the same to feel joy is to let go and to experience it without worrying of the drop from having experienced full joy with your whole heart. Full Joy is the mountaintop experience but is not the same without the valley, it's Nebraska flat land. however comforting that may seem it is not real living. This idea reminds me of my father and what he used to say to me about emotions, not that it was healthy but it was said often whether I was very excited or upset and it was the life view presented to me "Rain in your emotions. if you let yourself go to the top you will have to go to the bottom, stay steady even keel" That is not the place I long to live in my life so I will take the pain too.
Living in a way that can open us up to vulnerability is scary and hard to face, no one can live there all the time, we all numbing vulnerability with addictions, eating/ not eating, shopping/ saving, drinking, whatever they are. When you numb one emotion (IE pain) you numb them all (IE joy). A not so looked at way of numbing ourselves it's making uncertain things certain. Look at our culture today: Religiousness, Politics, anything people hold a firm belief on: Star Wars vs. Star Trek, anything there is no common ground. We are right, you are wrong, I am brilliant, you are not. This idea of arguing our point or as some say having animated discourse (IE fighting) is keeping us away from the uncomfortable idea that there may be room for others to hold an opinion I do not share and that's a valid place to because then we would have to live in the place of uncertainty, a free flowing place with little firm ground but much more room for not only ourselves but others. Another numbing technique that goes along with this it's when we blame, this gives us a way to discharge discomfort. Getting a little relief from feeling overwhelming, feeling of being vulnerable. So much easier to cast that on to others than to live in a place of nakedness and honesty with ourselves.
Another way we numb it's perfecting ourselves, or our children, or those around us. It's the same principle to me as The standing in the room Naked idea. It's putting the front out there so we don't have to be vulnerable. Children were never meant to be perfect, they were never meant to be looked at after they were born "I told you are perfect I want to keep you this way". they are only perfect because they have not made mistakes yet, It's so much better to look at them in the honest light of "They are who they are and who they are is enough" no one gets through anything without mistakes, it's when we believe that is not the end, we can move on. This goes back to the people who feel worthy knowing they are not perfect and that being ok.
But when all that fails we have Pretending. Pretending what we do doesn't have an effect on others and I would add ourselves to this, this is the choice of many putting our heads in the sand or fingers in our ears and LA LA LAing our way along/ because like the 5 year old playing hide and seek in the middle of the floor with just his eyes closed and nothing in front of them, if I can't see it or at least do not acknowledge it: it is not there.
The only way through life without numbing in both addiction type ways and the ones listed it's to let ourselves be seen, deeply and authentically vulnerably, seen without guarantee people will get it or except it, To Love with our whole hearts even when there is no guarantee that we will be loved back: practice love and joy in the face of rejection and pain, and believing we are enough, then we face those internal and external, telling us, otherwise to be strong enough to be kinder and gentler to ourselves and those around us.
I am drawn to the words of Jesus "Love others you as you love yourself" You can't have compassion or real love for others if you can't have it for yourself. This mostly thrown out there as the idea that we are so full of ourselves, we can't love others, I would stand in the face of that backed up by this and other research that says "We struggle to love others because we struggle to love ourselves". We see Vulnerability as weakness, however Vulnerability isn't weakness. Vulnerability it's our most accurate measure of Courage. To stand in vulnerability takes more grit than to hide behind all the mentioned numbing techniques we all have perfected so well. It is also the birthplace of Creativity, Innovation and Change. Adaptability to change, it's all about Vulnerability. How can you have any of these things while standing on the norm, they do not live there. The most extraordinary people we all know even look up too live in this place. You can't have success without failing, the two are intertwined. What stops us from living in that place?,The Critic. However, Isn't The Critic that gets the credit, the credit goes to the person doing the task because when he fails he does so daring greatly. I have to say even though I loved Oprah before, her shows have been the background words in places of my life. I love that when she stepped away from her giant success of a show she tried something new and it has not gone so well and she has done it with grace and openness that people loved her for she stayed in vulnerably daring to fail but daring to do so greatly.
The Critic we all face, if we are honest with ourselves, if ourselves comes in two forms: Shame and Guilt. Shame it's two things: Never good enough and Who do you think you are? Shame and Guilt are different, Shame it's focused on Self , Guilt it's focused on Behavior. It's the I am bad vs. I did something bad. I am sorry I made a mistake (Guilt) vs. I am sorry I am a mistake (Shame). Shame is correlated to: Addiction, Depression, Violence, Aggression, Bulling, Suicide, Eating Disorders. Guilt inversely correlated with those things.
The only people who do not experience Shame are those that do not have the capacity for connection or empathy; a sociopath as I said before, so stop shaming yourself for having it. I think it's the better choice. Shame has a different relationship connected through each gender, both feel it, again as humans without sociopath tendencies. For women "Do it all" and "Do it perfectly and Never let them see you sweat" A web of conflicting competing expectations about Who are supposed to be? "Bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and make you man happy" while being everything for children, family of origin and friends both making new and keeping close ties with the old. You can see the plate spinner running and juggling one after another, It is exhausting and unobtainable. for men is not it, it boils down to one thing, "Do not be perceived as weak" Men see the world as people needing them to be on a white horse, unable to "Fall down" or "Step Off". I propose there are some man that refuse to even get on the horse not letting other trust or rely on them They, are out of fear of falling, never get on the horse. Make no mistake this in not just their friends, coaches, bosses and other men, this is women too. I would say this is women more. Shame is an ugly place, lonely but for most it's safer than Vulnerability.
A women that can sit with a man in real Vulnerability and fear, and she has done some incredible work. a man that can sit with a women who has just had it and he really listens rather than fixing it he has done a lot of work. Shame is an epidemic in our culture, we need to find our way out from under it to find our way back to each other. Empathy is key to find our way back to one another. Empathy is the antidote to Shame, Shame needs secrecy, silence and judgment. Guilt is so much easier to cope with than Shame. I would say every time we give in to shame and guilt we betray ourselves and reinforce them in our lives. But to sit in this place not only ourselves but to have the Grace to let other do the same it's the essence of real love and loving. For some they will have no more than what the picture shows, one touch, one little piece of it, finger to finger and it's enough to sustain their whole life. But , Why would we settle for such scraps when we can move to a place of more connection? We have to understand shame and it's role in our humanness. Everyone is washed in the ill tides of shame, keeping us from being able to do so much more than can be summed up here by any other words here but Life or Love.
Here are the videos I referred to from Brené Brown.