TED Thursday: Vulnerability equals growth

This week’s TED talk is by Brené Brown, about the power of vulnerability. First off…she speaks crazy well. You can’t help but listen. She’s got a good mix of funny and fact.

I also think that it relates to my crazy kid on a roller coaster metaphor. Because if I sit back and think about it, what I’m going crazy over is the unknown. The inability to control the situation. That feeling of vulnerability.

(click to play)

So, if you don’t have time to listen/watch it (20min, totally worth it) – here are some quotes and the main things I took away from it:

“Knock discomfort upside the head and move it over.”

Yup. That’s me. To a “t”. Or at least the me I’m trying to break free of.

“Tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. “We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.””

“They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be to be who they were.”

This kind of gets back to the quote image my cousin sent me from this post. That it’s not about being the person you think people want you to be, that the fake person makes you better in some way…but instead being yourself. And that inherently makes you the best person possible. But people rarely do it because it’s very vulnerable to be the real you. You open yourself up to criticism. To hurt. To the possibility of not being accepted.

“I know that vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, struggle for worthiness…but also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, love.”

To which she then said, vulnerability may be awesome but:

“A. that’s not me 

B. I don’t even hang out with people like that.”

Word. She and I? Cut from the same cloth. But as a part of her research, she decided to take on this openness. This feeling of vulnerability.

“It was a year-long street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but I probably won my life back…”

“You cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say: Here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability. Here’s grief. Here’s shame. Here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m gonna have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin…You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions. You cannot selectively numb. When we numb those, we numb joy. We numb gratitude. We numb happiness. And then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning. And then we feel vulnerable so we have a couple beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”

“You are imperfect and you are wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging.”

“To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen. Vulnerably seen. To love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee. To practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering “can I love you this much? can I believe in this as passionately? can I be this fierce about this?” Just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say “I’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive”. “

“To believe that we’re enough. When we work from a place that says “I’m enough” we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us.”

I think this is part of my journey. To continue to grow into the person who freely shows their emotions. Who is okay with living in the moment. I think people saw our “perfect” marriage and so I began to emulate that. I began to hide away the real emotions, the real struggle. I think I didn’t let many people know about it because I didn’t want to release that vulnerability. To acknowledge that try as I might, my effort to create happiness for two was going nowhere. That I wasn’t in control. I finally became okay with that because I realized the issue was bigger than me. It was bigger of a problem than I could solve. Than we could solve.

And now? I still struggle with that vulnerability, but it’s on a different level. It’s a different type. I don’t necessarily know where my life is taking me; what lies after the upward ka-chunk, ka-chunk of the roller coaster. But I’m learning that this unknown is okay. That opening myself up to it, to the passion or grief, is letting me be the real me.

Most people know I do everything passionately. I love hard. I work hard. I play hard. But that also means that when it happens, I hurt just as hard. Because I invest all of me in everything I do. And I have to realize that the hurt is okay. Not necessarily the reason for the hurt, but the act of hurting. Of grieving or feeling pain. Of pushing. Because that also means I’m open to the joy. The wonder and happiness that this world, this life has in store for me.

I don’t like to hurt. I don’t like the unknown. But as I sit here, strapped into this roller coaster, I’m going to try each day to thrash a little less. To sit back, relax, and stare at the sky in wonderment. Because the ka-chunk will be over soon. And then the ride will begin.

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