Insightful TED video on the power of vulnerability.

I know ya’ll are super busy, and listening to a 20 minute video can seem like too much time, so perhaps consider putting this on in the background – whilst you potter around your room doing other things; or at bedtime, and listen to it whilst you fall asleep (that’s what I did last night); or in the morning whilst you brush your teeth and are getting ready for work. It’s a really insightful talk, and it’s worthwhile.
Here are some points I especially found interesting (copied verbatim from the transcript):

* “Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives”.

* “Shame unravels connection. It is the fear of disconnect. ‘Is there something about me that, if other people know it, or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?’ It is universal, we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection”.

* “People who have a sense of worthiness fully embrace vulnerability. They believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful. They talk about it being necessary. They talk about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out”.

* “…The way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting”.

* “Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

* Why do we struggle with vulnerability? “We numb vulnerability – when we’re waiting for the call. We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability”.

* But we cannot “selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. 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, and the dangerous cycle begins again.”

* “One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb…We make everything that’s 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. This is what politics looks like today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame.”

* “You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort.”

* “This is what I have found: 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…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 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.”

* “…Believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, 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.”

….(end of transcript notes)……

Phew! I know that was a lot of notes! If you actually read all of that, then I take off my imaginary hat to you and I thank you for taking the time to read it all!

What I took from this researcher’s talk is that perhaps the road to happiness and contentment is to be authentic: to be true to who we really are, and to be open to vulnerability – whatever the consequences may be. To stop wanting to control things, and to stop predicting what will happen, because it’s so exhausting, and your predictions might not even come true – so why do it? But we all do it though.

It may be tempting and easier to turn off our emotions, to numb the pain and the uncomfortable emotions, but like the researcher says, this then turns off the good emotions too, and leaves us feeling numb to everything and wondering what our purpose in life is; we then feel disconnected to the world and struggle to find the meaning of life.

Practicing authenticity, and vulnerability and knowing that we are ‘enough’ – is perhaps the hardest thing to do, but maybe the more we practice it, the easier it becomes. Maybe it’s like a muscle that just needs to be exercised and eventually it becomes easier.