The power of vulnerability: the struggle for connection.
The job is to tell our children: Look, you’re not perfect, you´ll have to fight, but are worthy of love and belonging”
Excerpts from the conference of the researcher and PhD in Social Work, Brene Brown.
We are here to be connected, the connection is our reason for being, it´s why we’re here, is the purpose which gives meaning to our lives. That’s it. The connection, the ability to feel connected, this is the most important thing. This is how we are designed neurobiologically.
Shame is the fear of disconnection, thinking there’s something in me that if the others discover it, then I will not be worthy of contact. It is universal, we all have it. Those who don´t feel it, have no capacity for empathy and human connection. Nobody wants to talk about this, and the less you talk about it, the more you have. What underlies this shame is: I’m not good enough (feeling we all know), yet this creates an unberabale vulnerability, with this idea that in order to connect with other, we have to be seen, let us truly be seen.
There are two types of people: the ones who have a sense of dignity, a deep sense of love and belonging, and the others who are always striving to achieve this, they are always wondering if they are good enough. There is only one variation that differentiates them from each other: Those who have a deep sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. They simply believe that it is so.
What keeps us from feeling connected is our fear of not deserving the connection. Wholehearted people have this deep sense of entitlement.
What have in common the people that feel worthy? Courage, compassion, connection.
1. Courage. It comes from the Latin word “cor” meaning heart, and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with all your heart. These people simply have the courage to be imperfect.
2. The compassion of being kind to themselves first and then to others, because we can´t practice compassion with others if we don´t deal kindly with us first.
3. Connection, as a result of their authenticity. They are willing to let go of the idea of who they should be for who they are, which absolutely you have to do to be connected.
The other thing they had in common was the vulnerability, they embrace it fully. They believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful. They don´t talk of vulnerability as something comfortable or excruciating, but necessary. They speak of the willingness to say ‘I love you’ first, the willingness to do something without warranty, the willingness to continue breathing while awaiting the results of a mammogram, to invest in a relationship that may or may not work .. they think this is fundamental.
To live is to accept vulnerability and stop trying to control and predict.
Vulnerability is the core of our fear and shame and our struggle for dignity, but also seems to be the starting point of our happiness, our creativity, belonging and love.
We numb our vulnerability. But we can´t selectively numb a feeling, and say this is wrong: here is the vulnerability, fear, shame, suffering, disappointment, I don´t want to feel this, I’m going to party .. No hard feelings can be suppressed without numbing the other emotions, it can´t be done selectively. When we do so, we also numb our joy, gratitude, happiness. And then we feel miserable and we begin to look for purpose and meaning, then we are vulnerable and do something to compensate, and enter a vicious circle ..
Another thing we do is try to make everything somewhat certain. We want certainty and only certainties. And the more afraid we are the more vulnerable we feel. Guilt is a way to unload the pain and discomfort. We try to stay perfect and keep our children perfect as well .. our job is to tell them: look, are imperfect and you´ll have to fight, but you are worthy of love and belonging.
There is another thing, allowing others to see us, to see us deeply, with our vulnerability; allow us to love with all our heart, although there are no guarantees, practice gratitude and joy and in times of fear and say I’m grateful, because to feel this vulnerability means that I´m alive.
And the last and most important thing, to believe that we are good enough. Because when we act from a place that says I´m good enough, then we stop screaming and start listening, we are more considerate and kind to people around us and kinder and more considerate to ourselves.