Ever feel like you aren’t enough? I know I do. I can’t get enough sleep, exercise, laundry folded, water drunk, time praying, people served, inches off my hips, encouraging words spoken, or hugs wrapped around my kids. Just plain not enough. All this “not enough” leaves me feeling like a failure on my best days and ashamed on my worst.
Yesterday, while attending the Blissdom conference for women bloggers, I had the chance to hear Brené Brown speak on the topic of vulnerability and living wholeheartedly. It was supposed to be about writing, but it was really about life.
Brené is the author of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. She is also a research professor at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston in the area of vulnerability, authenticity, courage, and shame. She is a mother, a wife, and Episcopalian, and a Texan. She is our people.
Brené recently spoke at one of the TED conferences on the topic of vulnerability. The video went viral. Friends, trust me. It is absolutely worth the 20 minutes it will take for you to be encouraged and inspired. Watch this.
Brené illuminated what we already know intuitively. Vulnerability scares the socks off of us. We are terrified to feel the uncertainty and the fear inherent in vulnerability.
Being vulnerable threatens to expose how lacking and unworthy we really are. So most of us, myself included, try to avoid it. We pretend we have it together.
Unfortunately, vulnerability is inseparably connected from our capacity to experience joy, creativity, love. When we banish vulnerability, we forsake our hearts, the “wellspring of life.”
I was struck as she explained that most of us think that we must meet a list of prerequisites to feel worthy of love and belonging. They are something we must earn and something we know we will never be able to earn. Shame is our only response.
Brené suggests that the opposite of living from a place of shame and not-enough-ness is living wholeheartedly—to live and love with our whole heart.
Though Brene doesn’t talk about this specifically, I think the journey to living wholeheartedly is one of learning to see ourselves the way that God sees us, through the lens of immeasurable love. This enables us to accept the spectrum of our whole personhood, not just the pretty, well-kempt parts.
In order to break the chains of shame, we must telling our stories, according to Brené. Lies cannot exist in light, only in darkness. Telling our stories brings freedom, and freedom is better than security.
Let’s commit to telling our true stories—to being seen—whether on our blogs, to our friends, or to ourselves. Let’s risk vulnerability and embrace joy.