Dr. Brené Brown, University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work
TEDxHouston, Expanding Perceptions 2010
As humans, we’re all connected. We are social beings.
From her research of people and their connectedness, Brown discovered that those who are wholehearted (people who have a sense of worthiness and who love with their whole heart with no guarantee that the love will be returned) have embraced vulnerability.
Six weeks into her research, Brown discovered an “unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection”:
And it turned out to be shame. It turned out that—and shame is really easily understood as 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?’ The things I can tell you about it: -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.
Her biggest lesson learned after dividing her research group into those with a sense of worthiness and those who lack it:
There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of long and belonging and [those who] really struggle for it and that was the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy.
What these findings have to do with us in our lives, today:
…we make everything that’s uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. ‘I’m right. You’re wrong. Shut up.’ That’s it. Just certain. The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like, today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame. Do you know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort.
Her important final point:
…is to believe that we are enough because when we work from a place […] that says, “I’m enough” then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.