Have you heard Brené Brown’s story?
She’s a research professor in Social Work. She spent thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Then in 2010 her TEDx talk (to a hundred or so people) called, The Power of Vulnerability, went viral online and became one of the one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 25 million viewers.
Two years later, in her second talk about Shame, she tells the story of her “vulnerability hangover” after the first talk, as she watched it going viral online. She didn’t leave her house for three days and tried to talk her best friend into breaking in to steal the tape somehow (lol). She wanted to undo it.
She wanted to avoid the shame and embarrassment of being seen.
But she not only came back, she came back with an even bigger message to share. She came back to teach us about shame and the power it can have in our lives:
Life is about daring greatly, about being in the arena. When you walk up to that arena and you put your hand on the door, and you think, “I’m going in and I’m going to try this,” shame is the gremlin who says, “Uh, uh. You’re not good enough. You never finished that MBA. Your wife left you. I know your dad really wasn’t in Luxembourg, he was in Sing Sing. I know those things that happened to you growing up. I know you don’t think that you’re pretty, smart, talented or powerful enough. I know your dad never paid attention, even when you made CFO.”
Shame is that thing.
Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket. ~ Brené Brown, TED2012
And then she taught us how to walk through it and find our way around, by teaching us that shame drives us away from each other and the only path back is vulnerability and empathy.
This woman cracked open my heart and mind to the power of these connections for the first time. Right after I left my career in sales to start HeartStories, I was introduced to her work and it kept me from quitting. It was like rocket fuel to power this passion I already had to help women overcome this very thing. She gave me words, and evidence, to frame this concept.
Why am I telling you this story about Brené today?
I’m telling you because she went to the other side and she came back to show us how to get there.
She navigated the way through the perilous journey and came back to say, “It’s okay. You can make it. Let me show you the way.” She went on to write an incredible book called Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.
This is what we each have the opportunity to do.
What you’ve been through is your gift. Hiding the hurt and difficulties of your life will never help anyone, certainly not you. Processing them will help you and your family, greatly. But sharing them… sharing them is the greatest gift you can give another person.
You’re coming back from the danger, the peril and the pain to guide someone else around it.
You can help them avoid the pitfalls. You can show them the way. You can make their path easier, make their load lighter. You can help them get further, faster.
So much of what I’ve done has been influenced and inspired because Brené came back. I can’t imagine the countless people she has rallied and brought on the journey with her, but I know I am one. I needed the gift only Brené could give.
Who needs the gift only you can give?
Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a complete stranger. Maybe it’s a group of women working toward the same goals.
Whoever she is, she’s out there waiting for you to come back from the journey you’ve been on, to show up with the gift only you can give.
And when you show up to give your gift vulnerably, you’ll both be changed for the better.
to more love,