Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the last twelve years studying vulnerability, shame, courage, and worthiness. Several years ago, she gave a talk called The Power of Vulnerability at a TED conference. I seriously re-watch this video at least every few months - it's amazing.
Dr. Brown talks about how she has delved into people who lead whole-hearted lives, those who have a real sense of love and connection with those around them. The answer to what makes them different comes down to allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Whole-hearted people in her research "were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, and be who they were." She found that the way to live a rich life is to live "with vulnerability, and to stop controlling and predicting."
Vulnerability is "the core of shame, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears it's also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love." You can't numb the negative emotions without also numbing the positive emotions. What people most need to hear is that "you're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging."
Her research points to this as being the way to truly live: "To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen, to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee... to practice gratitude and joy, in those moments of terror... to just be able to stop, and instead of catatrophizing what might happen, to say 'I'm so grateful, because to be this vulnerable means I'm alive'... and most important, to believe we're enough... when we work from a place that says 'I'm enough,' we stop screaming and start listening. We're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves."
Once again, I strive to lean into all my emotions, and to let myself be uncertain right now. To let myself be scared. To let myself have days feeling kind of "blah." To know that these are all parts of this process of finding the good parts of life, and that I'm not just wasting my time, but living through some down points in order to continue on to better ones. That it's okay to feel all these negative, scary things. That it's okay to throw myself into building the life I want to build, without knowing if it's possible and being terrified, deep down, that it's not, but knowing I have to try anyway.
*deep, slow breaths* Walling off the emotions never helps. Being able to sit with the emotions that don't feel good enables me to soar with the ones that feel amazing. I can do this. You can, too, dear readers. Feel free to share your struggles - it's scary, but letting ourselves be vulnerably seen is important. It's brought a lot of good into my life, I know. Every time it's scary (pressing "publish" on this is scary), but it's also necessary. I strive to be fully seen, and to let myself be fully seen, scars and imperfections included. ~Kell