At the Heart of Authenticity is the Courage to be Vulnerable
~ Brene Brown
I had never heard of Brene Brown until this past Monday when I saw a link to her TED talk on Facebook. I am a fan of TED talks, so I instantly clicked on the link and sat there, mesmerized, soaking up ever morsel of her funny, brilliant, engaging speech. (I promise, I’ll give you the link at the bottom… )
Three days later, I am still ruminating over the words that Brene spoke so eloquently.
She speaks about shame. She speaks about feeling unworthy. She speaks in the most heartfelt way about vulnerability and empathy, courage and compassion and our deep inborn need for human connection.
And she explains why and how we manage to muddle the process of keeping ourselves separated from that deep inner need by our inability to risk being open and vulnerable with each other. By our fear of sharing our truths with each other. By our deep societal fear of shame and judgement that we place on each other, and perhaps even worse…in fact, I believe, most decidedly worse, the shame and judgement we place on ourselves.
I don’t think there is a friend or foe on the planet that is crueler than we are to our own selves.
“It is Our Imperfection That Connects Us to Each Other.” – Brene Brown
When we judge ourselves and others for being less than perfect, or for not upholding these impossibly high standards that we have all come to expect from the media and from the chatter that we all perpetuate, we build the walls brick by brick that close us off to the connections that we crave.
When we pretend we are doing great,when our perfect curb appeal hides the demons that lurk within the doors,when we are too ashamed to cry out for help, to turn to our neighbors and friends- the very ones who are likely suffering in silence themselves- we dig the holes of desperation and loneliness to unbearable depths, convincing ourselves that it is only us…everyone else is doing great and we alone are the only ones who can’t keep the pace, stay on track or handle the rules that society demands.
I want to call a spade a spade. I don’t care who you are. I’m going to let the cat out of the bag. As a past successful Realtor, I’ve been in your houses, I know what lurks behind those perfect looking curbs. In all my busy years of selling of houses, some extremely expensive ones, there was never ONE SINGLE TIME that I walked into a house and decreed it to be PERFECT. There was always a checklist, always something to do, some things to fix up, some stuff they had never gotten around to, some things that had been on the list, bugging them for years. Sometimes the list was long, sometimes it was short, but there was always a list.
And that is just the way life is. It isn’t just our houses. It’s our lives. The more we can just understand that everyone has a list, the more we can relax, shrug our shoulders and say…oh well… so, I’ve got my list and you have yours. Big deal, so what who cares, let’s go out and get on with life and have some fun.
The Beauty Of Sharing Lists.
Our lists may be different. That’s ok. The stuff on my lifelist that I need to fix up and work on is different that yours. But by comparing our lists instead of hiding them in the closet of shame, I may find out that you figured out a solution for something on my list ages ago. By tag teaming my issue, I might actually get ahead. And if not, just having someone to bounce ideas off of, and not feeling so hopeless and all alone does wonders for making my failure list not seem quite like the monster it did before.
Connections and community have been our number one survival tool since the cave days. For us to isolate ourselves by pretending that we have it all figured out by our own lonely perfect selves is, in my mind, one definition of society’s sad insanity.
So…are we willing to bare our naked imperfections together and get closer? I think I have blabbed every flaw I have across cyberspace…but if there is anything you all don’t know about me by now, just ask…I’m pretty much an open book…but…how can I help you?
Davina Haisell says
Wendi, when I was reading the section about listing what we want to fix, I initially thought “Nah, I’ll fix things as they get in my face.” And then, immediately on the heels of that I found myself thinking that a lot of the things on that list, once I came back to them, would seem not as significant as first thought or would have been dealt with without even trying. It would be a really neat experience to watch that happen.
Loved this post! I think deep down we all want to connect with these spots of vulnerability. I swim there… LOL. It’s endearing to share it with someone else, but more so when they are open to it and want to explore it rather than make it a problem or simply just complain about it. My challenge then is to not judge that… I could do a list about those things I ‘must’ not judge, lol.
Davina Haisell\’s last post… Misstakes Dew Happen
Wendi Kelly says
You bring up a very interesting point. One really great thing about writing down the list in the first place, is that it makes it definable. We can finally point to it, name it and say- this is what I am going to deal with. It creates a map, which then creates a stepping stone path, which then we can begin to take baby steps on. Without the list, there is just this vague, shadowy monster that plagues our lives and terrorizes us morning through night.
And then, the feeling of success and and improved self-esteem from marking things off that list-well that is very powerful and motivating. And then, compound that by the feeling of satisfaction of helping cheer and motivate others!! Well, now you are onto some pretty exciting mojo.
Elaine Bailey says
Thank you for sharing this – A great post!
What you say is so true.
Here’s what stood out for me: “When we judge ourselves and others for being less than perfect, or for not upholding these impossibly high standards that we have all come to expect from the media and from the chatter that we all perpetuate.”
I see this all the time in the business world and how this affects people’s sense of worth and self esteem. People suffer in silence as you say – pretending to do great when inside they feel loneliness, and believe that they are th only ones who can’t keep the pace, stay on track or handle the rules that society demands. They end up settling and surviving.
It’s all about connection and being imperfectly perfect! It really is okay…
Thank you for sharing this with us!
Wendi Kelly says
Thank you for joining our community, it’s so good to have you here! Yes, it is all about connection. Brene’s words resonated with me, perhaps even more after coming home from UpLevel and being filled with the energy of meeting so many great people. I can tell you, it hasn’t worn off yet!
I did a review of Brene’ Brown’s new book the Gifts of Imperfection and I just enjoyed it so much – also her ad campaign of starting a revolution on her blog
I do not think until we get down dirty honest with our selves do we make deep and lasting change…
Now I want to see the TED talk…I missed so much with my month long intense job…
Great post – Thank you
Wendi Kelly says
I agree with you, real change happens when we are ready to quit lying to ourselves, start keeping promises to ourselves and and reclaim our personal integrity.
When we begin to believe in ourselves, we can do anything.
But really…..that’s another whole post in itself…
Glad you are back from your month long job, it’s nice to see you here-
I read your blog often – I have had to cut down on commenting with the job and to keep myself first ….I so enjoyed the like to Browns new TED talk…I reviewed her new book I think it was August? or September and thought it was really a keeper – reference book…amazing woman – like you
Barbara Swafford says
Very thought provoking post. As I was reading it I was reminded of a line Dr. Phil says: “You cannot change what you do not acknowledge.” and how it applies to what you said about us “hiding our lists in a closet of shame”. Although we all have “a list”, I think it’s easier to pretend we don’t and that it’s the “other people” with the problems.
What I like about blogging is it gives us a platform from which we can share some of what is on our list. I don’t know about you, but what I’ve seen is when I admit to not knowing something, or mistakes I’ve made, (some) others willingly share their experiences as well. And even though they may not join in, anyone reading will see they’re not alone. Although cyberspace may not be the ideal place to air our complete list, I like how it gives us practice in revealing part of our list and may give us the confidence to carry that over to our real life too.
Barbara Swafford\’s last post… I Shoulda…
Wendi Kelly says
I went to your site and found the book review, it looks like a really good book. I have it in my buy list. I just got three new Martha Beck books last week, so I need to finish them first, and then I’m hitting send. 🙂
@Barbara “You cannot change what you do not acknowledge” And isn’t that very similar to the first step of any 12 step program or any worth-while self improvement plan as well? I agree completely. Denial never fixed a thing. But it sure as hell makes a very lonely bed mate.
When I posted this post on Facebook, a friend- who is not a blogger- posted back ” Not on FACEBOOK!!!” And that’s true. While blogging does give us a wonderful platform to share some of our list, we bloggers may be more comfortable sharing our undies out on the line than others. But, as you say, I’ve had plenty of the late night e-mails from strangers who have let me know that my words have helped them to know that they are not alone in their feelings and trials.
If my” Phd in the School of Hard Knocks” as I joke about- is good for helping others know that the things they are going through doesn’t have to be permanent, and that life can be good after the horrible stuff ends, then I am happy to share my list with anyone.
Suzie Cheel says
this is wonderful- this is the second time in a week I have heard Brene’s name- I really appreciate what you have written
Yes getting emotionally naked is a wonderful concept
Suzie Cheel\’s last post… Monday Inspiration-Be Still
Wendi Kelly says
How wonderful to see you here again! Thank you for coming by. I appreciate your support, I love having my Uplevel friends come by for a visit! Isn’t Brene wonderful?