the risk of excruciating vulnerability
I discovered this talk a couple of years ago and I watch it pretty regularly. Each time I take away something different. Which I both love and hate.
“There is only one variable that separated the people who have a sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it and that was that people who have a sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging… the one thing that keeps us out of connection is the fear that we are not worthy of connection.”
What then, are we to do, when someone we desire a connection with doesn’t reciprocate? How do we NOT withdraw again, how do we believe that we are worth connecting with?
“We must be willing to invest in relationships that may or may not work out…”
“…to let ourselves be seen”
These may be my two greatest fears. I am willing to be excruciatingly vulnerable if I knew the other person would not only be ok with it, but would still love me anyway. (And not leave.) Yet her research showed that the way to live is with vulnerability, which is to stop controlling and predicting.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, love, Brown says. So all the things I really want. But being vulnerable takes all of that out of you. At least for me, most of the time.
One of the greatest powers we are given as human beings is the power to reject others. I know this because I have been rejected and I know the power it has over me. It’s incredible. We must walk carefully into this power with others, or we leave a wake of broken hearts behind us. I’ve been one of the broken hearts many times. I pray I have not been the one doing the breaking.
Brown also talks about how we cannot selectively numb emotions. She claims we cannot numb fear and rejection without numbing joy and love, too. I realized while watching this for the umpteenth time today how this is powerfully connected to expectations. If you decided not to expect anything (and I know people who try this) the claim is you will never be disappointed. But will you also end up never feeling joy or love, too? I’m thinking and wondering about this potential truth.
Because I want it not to be so. I want to come to a place in my life where I don’t feel disappointed or rejected (note that I am I am not saying that I wish disappointment or rejection would never actually happen. I’m not that delusional.) But I really want to figure out how not to be devastated by it.
Usually when I work on a post the typing and words come fast and freely at the start. I may go back and do some serious editing, but the typing and emotions come running out so fast I can hardly keep up. This time I am typing with awareness and lots and lots of typos. There is a metaphor here, I’m sure of it. I am so unsure of what I am feeling right now (and yes, a particular person has caused these crazy emotions in me and it makes me want to cut them out of my life. I’m trying to decide if they are a blessing or a lesson right now.) But I am trying very hard to coach myself through it. When I need this, Brown’s TED talk helps.
Vulnerability is courage, Brown says, in another one of her TED talks. I’ve never seen it as a weakness, thankfully. But I do object to the way it makes me feel. Because vulnerability makes me feel known… and when that is rejected, it destroys me. Because I already have a very fragile belief that I am worthy in the first place.
This all boils down to risk. The risk we take when we allow someone to enter into our lives. The risk we take when we remove a wall, brick by brick, to allow someone else to see who you really are. And not just who you are, but also how you feel, and what you feel about them, too.
I’m fully aware that I am talking in circles. I’m just trying to figure out how I feel about all of this. Actually, no. I’m trying to figure a way out of all of these feelings. That’s clearly two different things. My heart desperately wants a way out of these painful emotions and my head is telling me that’s just not going to happen. Perhaps it should be the other way around, but I’ve never been one to do things normally.
I think this is why her second TED talk is about listening to shame. There is shame in rejection. There is shame in not feeling good enough for someone to want to be with you.
As she says, part of shame is to walk through it and find our way around. I think that’s what I’m trying to do here. While I would prefer to go around the swamp in my soul where shame resides, I think it’s time to put on my boots and find my way around. Not looking forward to it. But my word for 2013 was “anything” and 2013 is still here. I'm now wondering what my word for 2014 will be.