Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability


"There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
--Leonard Cohen

I have been enjoying accompanying my husband on a business trip. We are at a convention-like gathering called the Crown Council Event "Where dentists unite, and give." It is an event like no other and these dental practices that are members of the Crown Council are incredible, but that's totally beside the point I'm trying to get to here.

We got to hear Brené Brown, a speaker/researcher who had some great insights about being vulnerable and what role it plays in feeling worthy of love and belonging. Like the above quote by Leonard Cohen that she shared with us, she reminded us that our imperfections are what allow us to connect with others and truly feel love.

Below is a shorter version of this talk that she gave on TEDx. It is 20 minutes long, and that may be more than you can carve out today, so I would suggest that if you have to just take a peek, cut out the beginning and start 5, 10 or 15 minutes into it. It won't be quite as powerful, and if you only get the very end it will seem cheesy without the context, so after getting a taste of it now, you may want to come back to it when you can make a little more time for yourself. (Just to warn you, there are a couple of expletives.)

I tell you, in a large room full of mostly women, we were like thirsty sponges soaking up a cool drink. I know it applies to men, too, but I suspect it speaks to women more universally (especially the self analytical type). Maybe you can enlighten me on that point, any males out there who have listened to this talk. I also wonder how these insights apply to teens, and with young people, how if differs between genders.

Some of the things I want to do better because of listening to her speak include:

How I see my children. Instead of seeing a new child as perfect, seeing them as worthy of love. Then as reality accumulates and they aren't so perfect, they are still worthy of love. Just as I, who am sooo far from perfect, am worthy of love. Isn't it odd that a newborn who is completely helpless and dependent is "perfect" and a mom who spends most of her day taking care of others can feel like a worthless failure? We often expect the wrong things.

Build my file of joy. This wasn't on the TED talk above, but she talked when I listened to her live about how we store images, both violent, destructive images and joyful images. We are not hard wired to see violent images, and they tend to jar us and stick with us. Avoid them when you can (like the media you choose). We need to have more joyful images on file to draw on especially when times are hard. This takes more deliberate effort to recognize and store in your memory moments and scenes that will lift you up when you need it.

Practice Calm. Anxiety and calm are both contagious (this is another tidbit not in the TED talk). Defuse anxiety by practicing calm: breath, ask a lot of questions ("Why do you think she did that?"), and ask yourself, "Do I have enough data to freak out?"--and if you do, will it help?

Value my "cracks" and those of others. Not only did I realize that my imperfections or "cracks" let light in, but they are also necessary to let light out. Thank goodness that we have cracks! Thankfully my spouse, children, and everyone we meet every day have cracks to let in the light, and to share the light they have inside. How could we ever understand each other without them.

I hope you will find something helpful as well. She has several books and a blog out there too, so you can look her up at the library and online.

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About Sunny

My name is Sunny, and my husband and I have five "children" ages 19 to 4. I love learning. I have a M.F.A. in Humanities and dream about going back to school some day. I run around doing "mom" stuff, try to put a nutritious dinner on the table for whomever shows up, and I thrive on creative projects when possible. Mostly I strive to just keep up with the mountains and mole hills of day to day life.
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