Holy smokes, guys. Stop whatever you are doing and go check out Brene Brown. Then pick any of her podcasts, TEDTalks, books or blog posts and watch, listen or read immediately. Pause whatever other things you are listening to or watching. Come back to them later.
(Or if that many choices sounds overwhelming start with this TedTalk and follow that with The Power of Vulnerability on Audible.)
I started The Power of Vulnerability last night. (One of those friends I’ve mentioned that always sends me good book and podcast recommendations texted me about it.)
In a nutshell I would describe Brene’s work as the Holy Grail of joy, self-worth and belonging.
Brene is a professor, researcher and storyteller with a PhD in social work. She has spent the last thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. Now she spends her time telling the world what she has learned.
Sometimes I find podcasts or books that require I take notes. Lots of notes. I do this compulsively. It is an extremely inefficient way to read a book but I cannot help myself. Here are a few of my notes from last night:
Love and belonging are irreducible needs of men, women and children. In the absence of love and belonging there is always suffering.
Shame can only rise to a certain level before people disengage to self-protect.
Vulnerability is the center of difficult emotion. But it is also the birthplace of every positive emotion that we need in our lives. Love, belonging, joy, empathy.
We numb vulnerability, we numb everything. You cannot selectively numb emotion. You numb the bad stuff, you numb joy, gratitude, happiness. And then we are miserable, looking for purpose and meaning.
I learned that social work was not about fixing people. It was about being with people where they are and holding an empathic space for people to do their own work.
Wholehearted folks make different choices than we make. They absolutely cultivate rest and play. What gets in the way of play and rest? What are the shame tapes we have to overcome to play? Exhaustion as a status symbol. And productivity as self worth.
Belonging is the innate human desire to be a part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal we often try to acquire it by fitting in and seeking approval which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging but often barriers to it. True belonging only happens when we present our authentic selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable selves to be deeply seen and known and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get. Love is something we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare. Which is why I think when it comes to our partners and our children and our family our first order of business is the development of self-love.
Let me know when you have watched that TEDTalk or picked up one of Brene’s books. I really, really need to hear your thoughts.