Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Power of Vulnerability

vulnerableAs my longtime readers know, I write often about the psychological aspects of living with Kennedy’s Disease. As the condition progresses it continually challenges a person’s self-esteem. I wrote in a couple of articles that our machismo is tested over and over and we find ourselves having to rely more on others for help. This experience is difficult to adjust to because in many ways it leaves us feeling vulnerable.

A TED (Ideas worth spreading) presentation on vulnerability has four millions views. Brene Brown, Ph.D., gives a thought provoking presentation on the insight she developed from her research to understand humanity. In her studies she ended up also going on a personal quest to understand herself. Ms. Brown is a great story teller and she makes something that could be mundane interesting. I can tell you that her talk had me laughing, chuckling, testing myself, considering and realizing something important about me and others.

Feeling Connected 

vulnerabilityShe starts out with talking about 'connection'. We need to feel connected with others. But, shame and fear unravel our ability to feel connected. The "I'm not good enough, or beautiful enough, or smart enough, or worthy enough" mantra that so many of us live with at times creates that shame and fear, and makes us vulnerable. To make a connection we have to be open … able to be seen (both the good and the bad), and that is not easy. And, it becomes very apparent over time how wide that disconnection is for many of us living with Kennedy's Disease.


People that are connected have a sense of worthiness and a sense of belonging. They also have a strong sense of love and believe they are worthy of it. Ms. Brown described these people as "Whole Hearted". She said these people have four interesting attributes:

  • Courage … the courage to accept that they are imperfect
  • Compassion … being kind to themselves as well as others
  • Connection … the ability to let go of who they thought they should be and accept who they are allows them to connect with others
  • Vulnerability … the belief that what made them vulnerable also made them beautiful and unique.

She found that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, worthiness, belonging, acceptance, etc.

Blocking the feelings

People often numb themselves to their self-perceived inadequacies so they don’t feel so vulnerable. And as we numb these pains in our lives, we also numb ourselves to more important emotions including spontaneous joy, unbounded love and true empathy. When that happens, we lose our connection with others.

Worthy of Love

As a result of her several years of study, Ms. Brown has the following recommendations:

  • Let yourself be seen for who you are (the good and the bad)
  • To love with your whole heart
  • To practice gratitude and joy every day
  • And, to believe that you are worthy of love


She challenges us to show people, especially children, that they are worthy of love and belonging.

Watch the twenty minute video … smile, laugh and learn … then embrace your vulnerable self. It is truly worthwhile. ENJOY!

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