I’ve listened to this talk more than fifteen times. Often I play “Sure on this shining night” in another tab while listening.
I’ve begun to prioritize some of the things Brené Brown talks about here in my own life, and in my work. Also, based on how they act, I either minimize or appreciate the people who work at companies I interact with. I move away from, or promote and get closer with, those companies overall.
Here are the most important lessons/quotes for me. This is an excerpted transcript I’ve written up from Brené Brown’s talk:
- What unravels connection? Shame.
- Shame: the fear of disconnection. It’s universal; we all have it. ‘I’m not “blank” enough.’
- In order to let connection happen, we have to let ourselves be seen. Really seen.
- A sense of worthiness; that’s what this comes down to… a strong sense of love and belonging: There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who struggled for it. And that was: that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. And to me, the hard part about the one thing that keeps us out of love and connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of love and connection, was something that personally and professionally I felt I needed to understand better.
- What do I call these people living from a strong sense of love and connection? Whole-hearted. These are whole-hearted people.
- Here’s what I found. What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute. Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language, it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart, and the original definition was to tell the story of who are with your whole heart.
- And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect.
- They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others. Because as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.
- And the last is, they had connection — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which is — you have to — to absolutely do that for connection.
- The other thing they had in common was this: they fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they talk about it being excruciating, as I heard it earlier in the shame interviewing, they just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say I love you first. The willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. The willingness to breathe through the doctor waiting to call with a mammogram. The willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.
- Research: to control and predict. To study phenomenon for the explicit reason to control and predict.
- I said, here’s the thing. I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is kind of the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, and creativity, of belong, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I just — I need some help… It’s bad, isn’t it? And she said, ‘It’s neither good nor bad. It just is what it is.’ And I said, ‘Oh my god, this is going to suck!’ And it did, and it didn’t. And it took about a year. And you know how there are people that like when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they kind of surrender and walk into it? A) That’s not me, and B) I don’t even hang out with people like that. For me, it was a year-long street-fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight but probably won my life back… What are we doing with vulnerability? Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability? No. And so this is what I learned: We numb vulnerability… ‘Having to ask my husband for help because I’m sick and we’re newly married.’ ‘Having to initiate sex with my husband.’ ‘Initiating sex with my wife.’ ‘Being turned down.’ ‘Asking someone out.’ ‘Waiting for the doctor to call back.’ ‘Getting laid off.’ ‘Laying off people.’ This is the world we live in. We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it: we numb vulnerability. And I think there’s evidence. And it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause. We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.
- The problem is, and I learned this from the research, that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You cannot say, ‘Here’s the bad stuff. Here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana-nut muffin. I don’t want to feel these.’ … You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions. So 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 of beers and a banana-nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.
- One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb. And it doesn’t have to be addiction. The other thing we do is, we make everything that is uncertain, certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery, to certainty. ‘I’m right, you’re wrong, shut up.’ That’s it. Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are.
- Do you know how blame is described in the research? ‘A way to discharge pain and discomfort.’
- You are imperfect and you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of comfort and belonging.
- We pretend that what we do doesn’t have a huge effect on people… We just need you to be authentic and real and say, ‘We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.’
- But there’s another way.
- To let ourselves be seen. Deeply seen. Vulnerably seen.
- To love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee. And that’s really hard. I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult.
- To practice gratitude and joy, in those moments of kind of terror, when we’re wondering, ‘Can I love you that much? Can I believe in this this 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.’
- And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place that says, ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.