I just watched this TED Talk about “The Power of Vulnerability” and it struck a chord — it dawned on me: I suck at it!
Every single word was worthy in this talk but I’ll highlight just two areas that stood out to me:
1. Things that make people feel vulnerable and how we “handle” them
“Having to ask my husband for help because I’m sick and we’re newly married. Initiating sex with my husband. Initiating sex with my wife. Being turned down. Asking someone out. Waiting for the doctor to call back. Getting laid off. Laying off people. This is the world we live in; we live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with vulnerability is that we numb vulnerability…
We are the most in debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult cohort in US history. The problem is…that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say here’s the bad stuff, here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s disappointment, I don’t want to feel these — I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin…
You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions… We numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable…”
2. The Challenge to Change
“To love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee. To practice gratitude and joy, in those moments of terror, can I love you this much, can I believe in you this passionately, can I be this fierce about this? Just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what could happen but just to be grateful… To believe that we are enough.”
Everyone should go watch this on Netflix or on YouTube. I recommend it, unreservedly.
As I sit here and type this immediately I can think of five times past year where I dropped the ball on this. It wasn’t because I was incapable but because I didn’t want to “put myself out there”. I didn’t want to be “out on a limb”:
- I held back from saying “I love you”.
- I didn’t speak up as soon as I could have about a job that I wanted.
- I put up with appalling behavior from more than one person towards my legitimate needs, feelings, and concerns.
- I refused to extend to someone forgiveness and accept an apology.
- I consciously and deliberately numbed myself to avoid an internal, personal confrontation.
It is scary out there, you know that? Our world is not easy. I know that I am not perfect and I will never be one of those immediately open, highly communicative, shame-free, and guilt-free people. I am fully okay with never reaching that state of nirvana. This is not a competition.
Still, it’s a type of battle; it’s a fight and if I go down, I go down swinging. Of all the goals I’ve set to start in 2014, this is one I didn’t think of, but it’s has now been added to the list. Let’s call it my Lucky No. 41:
Be more vulnerable.