A few weeks ago, I spent some time catching up with my former manager. She’s always been a great mentor for me and someone that I’ve always thought has her head on straight, can look at situations objectively and always aims to do the right thing.
While her and I were catching up, she recommended a Ted Talk to me that I thought was a really good reminder of both the need we all have for connection and the paradox of how our behavior inhibits us from creating those connections.
Brene spent six years doing the research that she pulls together in this Ted Talk, so her series of thoughts that tie together are somewhat complex. She walks through her process in the video and this is the summary as I interpret it:
She talks about uncovering the key to our fear of disconnection, which is shame. Shame, she says, makes us scared to become disconnected from others. The only way we can become truly connected to others is by letting ourselves become completely vulnerable, and having no fear or shame.
Of the people she interviews, she breaks them into two groups:
Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, and
Those who do not have a strong sense of love and belonging
She determined what the difference is between these two types of people. Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging BELIEVE that they are WORTHY of love and belonging. That is it. It seems so basic, but for a lot of people, this is an incredibly difficult belief to produce.
She then focused her time on those who exhibited that belief of worthiness. She calls these people “whole-hearted.” The main characteristic she determined these people had in common, was courage. These people had the courage to be imperfect and to be compassionate with themselves and others about that imperfection.
She draws a distinction here, which I think is particularly interesting. That is, the difference between courage and bravery. She explains the roots of the word courage, which essentially explains that the word means “to tell the story of your heart.”
At the end of the day, she says these people were able to let go of who they thought they had to be, in order to be who they are. By becoming completely authentic and vulnerable, they were actually able to create true connections with people.
She goes on to give some examples of how we as a society tend to try to numb the bad things we feel, but at the end of the day, that numbing results in numbing both the bad things and the good things, because it is not possible to selectively numb. It’s clear in the video that all of these findings created a life-changing revelation for Brene and she decides to pursue the work that allows her to become vulnerable, which I felt was both incredibly courageous and brave.