Vulnerability

We actually discussed this one before, in 2011, but I think it is a good follow up to last week's discussion.

One interesting thing about this video is that I've noticed it's consistently in the top ten suggested TED videos on the TED site, for quite a long time now. I think it's struck something in people.





The key statements in the video, as I heard them, anyways, are below.
For our discussion, I was thinking we could go through these one by one.

Connection is why we're here.
Connection is the purpose of our lives.
We're wired for it in our brains.

The unnamed thing that unravels connection: Shame.

Nobody wants to talk about shame.
The more you don't talk about something, the more you have of it.

Shame is the fear of disconnection.
Shame is the fear that "I'm not worthy of connection".

Vulnerability is the key.

In order for connection to happen, you have to allow yourself to really be seen.

There are two kinds of people in respect to vulnerability:

People who have a sense of worthiness, a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging. That's all it is.
People who struggle for it, who always wonder if they're good enough, fear that they're not worthy of it.


So these 'wholehearted' people, the ones who believe they're worthy of love and belonging, what do they have in common?

1. Courage. The courage to be imperfect.

2. Compassion. To be kind to ourselves first, and then to others. You can't be kind to others if you're not kind to yourself first.

3. Connection. As a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they should be in order to be who they are. You have to be willing to do this to experience real connection.

4. They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't say it was comfortable, or excruciating, they just talked about it being necessary. The willingness to say "I love you" first. To do something even if there were no guarantees. To breathe through waiting for the doctor to call with the mammogram results. To invest in a relationship that may not work out. They felt that vulnerability was fundamental.


We numb vulnerability.
The evidence for this is: We are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history.

The problem is we cannot selectively turn off emotions.
You can't tune out the bad stuff--vulnerability, fear, shame, greed, disappointment, without numbing all your other feelings--joy gratitude, happiness. This makes us feel a lack of connection and we feel vulnerable, so we numb everything up again, and it becomes a bad cycle.

How do we numb things?
Not just through addiction.

We try to make everything certain. Religion has changed from faith and mystery to certainty: I'm right and you're wrong.
The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics is now. It's all about blame.

Blame is a known way to discharge pain and discomfort.

We perfect.
We perfect our children.
Children are hardwired for struggle. Our job is not to keep them perfect. Our job is to support them through their struggles and help them understand that they're worthy of love and belonging.

We pretend.
We pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on people.
Bailouts, oil spills, recalls.

So, we have 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, even in the midst of vulnerability.
To believe that we're enough. If you believe you're enough, then you stop screaming and start listening, you're kinder and gentler to the people around you, and kinder and gentler to ourselves.

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