Thursday, February 27, 2014

Brené Brown. My hero. Whole-Hearted living.

I've listened to the TED talk with Brené Brown about Vulnerability about 10 times now. I like to listen to it while I'm working out at the gym. It helps me forget that I'm on a boring machine for 20 minutes, and helps me work on myself physically (at the gym) and also emotionally and spiritually. My whole being is exercising healthy behaviors. I totally recommend this practice... 

Each time I listen to this TED talk, I get something new out of it, and learn something more about myself. It's freakin' fantastic! I love it because it encourages me to live an authentic life, a life lived without seclusion in my own head of secrets and shame talk. I often want to be vulnerable with people, but become afraid that they won't be able to handle what I say. I have been hurt from vulnerability in the past, but now, I do it a bit differently. I work with a counselor, I work the 12 steps (which TOTALLY encourages vulnerability and transparency - aka hard work) and I have found the friends that I know I can trust with the information in my head - often addicts and people willing to be vulnerable in return. 

I want to share some notes I took from the most recent time I listened to her Vulnerability TED talk:

1. First of all, how amazing is Brené!?!?! She begins her TED talk with such humility - She tells the story of how an event planner wanted to call her a story teller, and Brene admits that she cringed because that title discredits her PHD in this field of research. Story teller = "Magic Pixie" to her and she tried to compromise with "researcher-story teller"... A woman like Brene has every right to say "I'm a doctor in this field, call me what I am" ya know? Yet she humbles herself, admits that it made her cringe, yet still she compromised. For me, Brene's presence on stage is calming, comfortable, and vulnerable... Love it.

2. Connection is KEY - our connections in life are what give us purpose. It is neuro-biologically how we are wired, it's why we are here. And in order to have connection, one has to allow their self to be seen. This is vulnerability. 

3. Shame unravels connections - Shame is the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if people knew, it would break our connection?! Shame is universal. Some struggle with it more than others, and the less you talk about shame, the more you have it. Shame is the part of you that says "You're not ______ enough." Fill in the blank... Skinny, beautiful, smart, educated, happy, sexy etc. Brene collected thousands of stories during her shame research over her 6 years. What she found is when people struggle for love and belonging, it's because they fear that they aren't worthy of connection (shame). Those who believe that they are worthy of connection lived a whole-hearted life, shame did not rule them. 

4. The whole-hearted live from a deep sense of worthiness. These are the traits, that Brene picked up through the thousands of stories she collected, that the whole-hearted encompass. 

  • Courage - the root word comes from the latin word cour that means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. The whole-hearted have the courage to be imperfect. 
  • Compassion - the whole-hearted have the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because they know that if they aren't compassionate to themselves first, they cannot be towards other. 
  • Connection - as a result of authenticity. Whole-hearted let go of who they think they should be, in order to be who they are. We HAVE TO in order for connection.
  • FULLY EMBRACE Vulnerability - whole-hearted people believe that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. Vulnerability is not comfortable, but it's also not excrutiating. It's just necessary... They have the willingness to say I love you first, do something where there are no guarantees, to breathe through waiting for the phone call from the doctor, and invest in relationships that may not work out.

Brene Brown in a researcher. The definition of research is to control and predict, but to live whole heartedly you have to let go of controlling and predicting. This created quite an issue for Brene (due to her profession) but also creates problems for many people, especially in our society today. Control is one of the major issues for addicts and co-dependents. It's also something we in America grow up with believing that we have control over our individual lives, that we are somehow invincible and can be whatever we want to be. So problematic... 

So we struggle with Vulnerability. Why do we struggle so much with vulnerability? Here are the four reasons from Brene:

1. We numb it. 
*** Evidence: We are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history. Problem is, you cannot selectively numb emotion. When we numb the "bad" stuff: fear, pain, sorrow, vulnerability, and disappointment, we also numb joy, gratitude, and happiness. Then we are miserable searching for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable so we grab our "coping mechanism" and we are stuck in a vicious cycle.

2. We make the uncertain, certain.  Religion has become more of a certainty "I'm right, your wrong, shut up." Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are... This is how politics looks today. There is no discourse or conversation just blame, which by definition is a way to discharge pain and discomfort...

3. We Perfect - taking fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks trying to perfect our bodies (lypo, makeup, excessive gym, pills, etc.). We perfect children. Children are hard wired for struggle when they get here... As babies they are so perfect, and we think our job is to try to keep them perfect. BUT our job is actually to say "you are imperfect and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." Show me a generation of kids raised like that and we could potentially end some of the problems we see today - Brene. 

4. We Pretend that what we do doesn't have an effect on people (personal and corporate). 

If we remember nothing else from this, we should remember these four important keys to a whole-hearted life:

  1. Let ourselves be seen deeply and authentically/ vulnerably.
  2. Love with our whole hearts without guarantee.
  3. Practice gratitude and joy. Can I be this happy? Let yourself be. Just be grateful. To feel this vulnerable means that you are alive.
  4. Believe WE ARE ENOUGH. When we believe this, we are kinder and gentler to ourselves and to others. 

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