Shame is the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?
It’s universal; we all have it. The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” was excruciating vulnerability. This idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.
I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness, they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, folks who are always wondering if they’re good enough.
There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believethey’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.
What do these people have in common?
What they had in common was a sense of courage. Courage, the original definition of courage was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect.
They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.
And the last was they had connection (with themselves and others), and as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do for connection.
They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say “I love you” first … the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.
~ Brené Brown – The power of vulnerability [TEDxHouston]