6 years of research on the human connection, thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups. At one point, people were sending to her journal pages and sending her their stories – thousands of pieces of data in six years. Brene Brown, researcher and social worker, sharing her research that revealed some truths about connection, shame, vulnerability and our ability to empathize and love.
I would like to share with you the outcome of this research which can be an amazing way to start the new journey of self-confidence, self-respect and appreciation.
Connection vs. shame
Brene Brown explains that after being a social worker for 10 years, what she realized is that connection is why we are here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter whether she talked to people who work in social justice, mental health and abuse and neglect, what she knows is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically that’s how we are wired.
And what about shame? According to researcher the shame is universal; we all have it. Brene Brown states that 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 underpins this shame is “I’m not good enough,” that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.”
In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.
Sense of worthiness
Brene Brown divided people she interviewed into 2 groups: in the first group of people – they had a sense of worthiness, they had a strong sense of love and belonging; and in another group people were struggling for it, they were the ones always wondering if they’re good enough.
There was only one variable that separated the people who had a strong sense of belonging and the people who really struggled for it. And that was, the people who had a strong sense of love and belonging believe they were worthy of it.
Brene Brown took all of the interviews where she saw worthiness, where she saw people living that way, and just looked at those, she analyzed the first group.
The major question was – what do these people have in common?
And this is what she found:
1. Courage. The courage to be imperfect.
All these people 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.
Researcher explains that they had connection, as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they are, which we have to absolutely do for connection.
2. The other thing that they had in common: they were vulnerable.
Research showed, that they believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I need 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.
Brene Brown was trying to understand what choices they were making, and what we are doing with vulnerability.
Why do we struggle with it so much?
We numb vulnerability.
The problem is – and this is what she learned from the research – that we cannot selectively numb emotion. We can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers instead.
Researcher explains that we can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. We cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then, we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.
According to Brene Brown, we pretend that what we do not have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that in corporate lives … a recall. We pretend like what we are doing doesn’t have a huge impact on other people.
We just need you to be authentic and real and say … “We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.”
Below are the amazing outcomes from this research, that Brene Brown shares answering the question – is there another way to see ourselves and our lives? What do we need?
1. What we need is to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee.
2. What we need is to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I feel this way? Can I believe in this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” – just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.”
3. What we need is to believe that we’re 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.
Being grateful, authentic and being just enough – something that we can choose, something small that can have a big impact on our lives.
I hope you enjoyed the outcome of this amazing research, the same as I did.