Something about Shame, Guilt, Vulnerability and Love (Video)

It’s not often in my life that something comes along raw enough, real enough, and clearly-spoken enough for me that hearing or seeing it just creates that pain deep in my gut… the one that tells me “this is really true”

…and “this really needs to be shared.”

Thanks to my Monday morning commute (and the amazing Instacast App) I was plugged in to a new Ted Talk by Brené Brown, PhD, titled “Listening to Shame“. (Blog: Ordinary Courage, Twitter: @brenebrown).

Watch it here, then, please share it:

She talks about Vulnerability, or the ability to be open to new things and possibilities.

She talks about how, to ourselves, being vulnerable feels weak and flawed, but witnessing vulnerability in others seems like raw courage.  (…..Interesting how we lie to ourselves, isn’t it?)

She exclaims that vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and chance–things we constantly say we’re desperately seeking (as people, as businesses, as communities).

She talks about the difference between guilt and shame, one leading us to become better and toward greatness, the other leading us to misery, addiction and defeat. (…..which one is which? hint: “Shame is ‘I am bad.’ Guilt is ‘I did something bad.'”)

There’s a huge difference between shame and guilt. And here’s what you need to know. Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders. And here’s what you even need to know more. Guilt, inversely correlated with those things. The ability to hold something we’ve done or failed to do up against who we want to be is incredibly adaptive. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s adaptive.

She talks about how far we must go into ourselves before we can find out who we are and be what we really need to be in the world… and how scary and frightening and worn out that feels when you do it, but how revealing and majestic we can become when we are willing to first silence our shame and, as she says is her vulnerability mantra, “Show up and let yourself be seen.”

I know so many who suffer because they can’t quiet their own shame. They keep it inside and it kills them slowly, mercilessly.

And, yet, handling our shame is just what we actually need to do to move ahead when we’re depressed, addicted, beaten down, angry, hurt or broken inside.

And maybe these 20 minutes and 38 seconds just might give someone wings to try to fly a little again, or at least to reach out and ask for help because their wings are broken right now (but not forever).

And, I think Brown says it right in the end of her Lessons Learned from TED post:

In the song Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen writes, “Love is not a victory march, its’a cold and broken hallelujah.”

Love is a form of vulnerability and if you replace the word love with vulnerability in that line, it’s just as true. If we always expect to feel victorious after being vulnerable, we will be dissapointed. In our culture, wholeheartedness is often a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue.


About Brené Brown

Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Brené spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness.

Book: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Blog: Ordinary Courage
Twitter: @brenebrown

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