“I’M ENOUGH”

Todays blog, is a copy of the transcript from a Ted Talk on “The Power Of Vulnerability”, from the author, Brene Brown.

Her bio is as follows:

About

“Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 15 million views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.

Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). She is also the author of the #1 New York TimesBestseller The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).

Brené is also the founder and CEO of The Daring Way – a teaching and certification program for helping professionals who want to facilitate her work on vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness.

Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children.”

And here is the transcript from that Ted Talk…

“So, I’ll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event. And she called, and she said, “I’m really struggling with how to write about you on the little flyer.”

And I thought, “Well, what’s the struggle?”

And she said, “Well, I saw you speak, and I’m going to call you a researcher, I think, but I’m afraid if I call you a researcher, no one will come, because they’ll think you’re boring and irrelevant.”

And I was like, “Okay.”

And she said, “But the thing I liked about your talk is you’re a storyteller. So I think what I’ll do is just call you a storyteller.”

And of course, the academic, insecure part of me was like, “You’re going to call me a what?”

And she said, “I’m going to call you a storyteller.”

And I was like, “Why not magic pixie?”

I was like, “Let me think about this for a second.”

I tried to call deep on my courage. And I thought, you know, I am a storyteller. I’m a qualitative researcher.

I collect stories; that’s what I do.

And maybe stories are just data with a soul.

And maybe I’m just a storyteller.

And so I said, “You know what? Why don’t you just say I’m a researcher-storyteller.”

And she went, “Ha ha. There’s no such thing.”

So I’m a researcher-storyteller, and I’m going to talk to you today — we’re talking about expanding perception — and so I want to talk to you and tell some stories about a piece of my research that fundamentally expanded my perception and really actually changed the way that I live and love and work and parent.

And this is where my story starts.

When I was a young researcher, doctoral student, my first year I had a research professor who said to us, “Here’s the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist.”

And I thought he was just sweet-talking me.

I was like, “Really?” and he was like, “Absolutely.”

And so you have to understand that I have a bachelor’s in social work, a master’s in social work, and I was getting my Ph.D. in social work, so my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed in the “life’s messy, love it.”

And I’m more of the, “life’s messy, clean it up, organise it and put it into a bento box.”

And so to think that I had found my way, to found a career that takes me — really, one of the big sayings in social work is, “Lean into the discomfort of the work.”

And I’m like, knock discomfort upside the head and move it over and get all A’s. That was my mantra.

So I was very excited about this.

And so I thought, you know what, this is the career for me, because I am interested in some messy topics. But I want to be able to make them not messy. I want to understand them. I want to hack into these things I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see.

So where I started was with connection. Because, by the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realise is that connection is why we’re here.

It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

This is what it’s all about.

It doesn’t matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice, mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here.

So I thought, you know what, I’m going to start with connection.

Well, you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things you do really awesome, and one “opportunity for growth?”

And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right?

Well, apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded. And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.

So very quickly — really about six weeks into this research — I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen. And so I pulled back out of the research and thought, I need to figure out what this is.

And it turned out to be shame. 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. What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.”

The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

And you know how I feel about vulnerability. I hate vulnerability. And so I thought, this is my chance to beat it back with my measuring stick. I’m going in, I’m going to figure this stuff out, I’m going to spend a year, I’m going to totally deconstruct shame, I’m going to understand how vulnerability works, and I’m going to outsmart it.

So I was ready, and I was really excited.

As you know, it’s not going to turn out well.

You know this.

So, I could tell you a lot about shame, but I’d have to borrow everyone else’s time. But here’s what I can tell you that it boils down to — and this may be one of the most important things that I’ve ever learned in the decade of doing this research.

My one year turned into six years: thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups.

At one point, people were sending me journal pages and sending me their stories — thousands of pieces of data in six years.

And I kind of got a handle on it.

I kind of understood, this is what shame is, this is how it works. I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay — and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness — that’s what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness — they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, and 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 believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.

That’s it.

They believe they’re worthy.

And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better. So what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.

What do these people have in common?

I have a slight office supply addiction, but that’s another talk.

So I had a manila folder, and I had a Sharpie, and I was like, what am I going to call this research?

And the first words that came to my mind were whole-hearted.

These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data.

In fact, I did it first in a four-day very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled the interviews, the stories, pulled the incidents.

What’s the theme?

What’s the pattern?

My husband left town with the kids because I always go into this Jackson Pollock crazy thing, where I’m just writing and in my researcher mode.

And so here’s what I found.

What they had in common was a sense of courage.

And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute.

Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition 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, and — this was the hard part — 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 that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this: 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 — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing.

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, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram.

They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.

They thought this was fundamental.

I personally thought it was betrayal.

I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research, where our job — you know, the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena, for the explicit reason to control and predict.

And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown — which actually looked more like this.

And it did.

I call it a breakdown; my therapist calls it a spiritual awakening.

A spiritual awakening sounds better than breakdown, but I assure you it was a breakdown.

And I had to put my data away and go find a therapist.

Let me tell you something: you know who you are when you call your friends and say, “I think I need to see somebody. Do you have any recommendations?”

Because about five of my friends were like, “Wooo, I wouldn’t want to be your therapist.”

I was like, “What does that mean?”

And they’re like, “I’m just saying, you know. Don’t bring your measuring stick.

I was like, “Okay.” So I found a therapist.

My first meeting with her, Diana — I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down.

And she said, “How are you?”

And I said, “I’m great. I’m okay.”

She said, “What’s going on?”

And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good.

And so I said, “Here’s the thing, I’m struggling.”

And she said, “What’s the struggle?”

And I said, “Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.”

And I said, “But here’s the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit. I just need some strategies.”

So she goes like this.

And then I said, “It’s bad, right?”

And she said, “It’s neither good nor bad. It just is what it is.”

And I said, “Oh my God, this is going to suck.”

And it did, and it didn’t.

And it took about a year.

And you know how there are people that, when they realise that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it.

A: that’s not me, and B: I don’t even hang out with people like that.

For me, it was a yearlong street fight.

It was a slugfest.

Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.

And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what are we doing with vulnerability.

Why do we struggle with it so much?

Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability?

No.

So this is what I learned.

We numb vulnerability — when we’re waiting for the call.

It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says, “How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?”

And within an hour and a half, I had 150 responses.

Because I wanted to know what’s out there.

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 it is we numb vulnerability.

And I think there’s evidence — and it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause.

We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is — and I learned this from the research — 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 fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. I don’t want to feel these.

I hack into your lives for a living. God.

You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions.

You cannot selectively numb.

So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.

And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb.

And it doesn’t just have to be addiction.

The other thing we do is 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.

You know how blame is described in the research?

A way to discharge pain and discomfort.

We’re perfect.

If there’s anyone who wants their life to look like this, it would be me, but it doesn’t work.

Because what we do is we take fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks. Which just, I hope in 100 years, people will look back and go, “Wow.”

And we perfect, most dangerously, our children.

Let me tell you what we think about children.

They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here.

And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect.

My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh.”

That’s not our job.

Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

That’s our job.

Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today.

We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate — whether it’s a bailout, an oil spill, a recall — we pretend like what we’re doing doesn’t have a huge impact on other people.

I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo, people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say, “We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.”

But there’s another way, and I’ll leave you with this.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this 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.”

And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough.

Because when we work from a place, I believe, 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.

That’s all I have. Thank you.”

(The link to her talk is below:)

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“YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL. JUST NOT ALL AT ONCE.”

That’s a quote from the inspiring Oprah Winfrey.

I’ve never really understood what it meant, until I got to my mid 30’s.

In life, we all try to not only create, but to maintain a sense of balance.

That’s what life is all about right?

Balance.

With balance, comes harmony.

Peace.

The dictionary definition of harmony, is as follows:

“The quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole.”

And the dictionary definition of peace?

“Freedom from disturbance; tranquility.”

So, how do we go about creating this “pleasing and consistent whole”?

This “freedom from disturbance; tranquility”?

Well…it really is quite simple.

It’s about deciding what is important to you.

What it is that you truly want.

And it’s compromising, and negotiating from there.

In my short lifetime, I have come to discover, that what Oprah said was true.

You CAN have it all.

Just not all at once.

And it applies to everything in life.

I recently read an article on “egg freezing” in the local Australian Sunday newspaper.

About women, predominantly in their mid 30’s – and sometimes early 40’s, attempting to freeze their eggs, on account of having chosen their own individual paths due to a myriad of reasons.

Not having met the right person.

Having spent the bulk of their adult lives climbing the corporate ladder.

Thinking that they had more time on their hands, in terms of producing a “biological child”.

I even read the thoughts on a lot of women, that they feel as though that the government should subsidise them for their “choices”.

Life is all about choices.

And it’s ultimately all about balance.

It’s about deciding what it is that you want from this life.

You CAN have it all.

But not all at once.

“Life”, happens to all of us.

And you cannot hold anyone else accountable for your “choices”.

Or for your mistakes.

No one is responsible for us, expect us.

It’s childish, and selfish to think of it in any other way when it is something that you have actively participated in selecting for yourself.

With everything in life, you need to decide what it is that you want to work towards, and to keep your eye firmly planted on your target.

Your prize.

It is not up to anyone else to be held responsible for your choices.

Nor should anyone else be paying for those choices, or life circumstances in which you have created for yourself.

#ShitHappens – as the saying goes.

It is not your “right” to take your “pound of flesh”.

Life is about adapting to whatever is thrown at us.

And dealing with it accordingly.

So it’s with this realisation that you have a choice.

What is it that you want?

Seriously.

And hey, I’m sorry to burst your bubble.

But shit does happen.

Welcome to adulthood…

But what is it that you want?

Do you want to climb the corporate ladder?

Do it.

Do you want to be the party girl / boy, rubbing shoulders with the “who’s who” of whatever it is that tickles your fancy, or whatever you’re consumed / involved with?

Do it.

Do you want to be a “mad artist”?

Do it.

Do you want to work like crazy to make yourself more comfortable financially?

Do it.

Do you want to get out of a relationship?

Do it.

Do you want to eat McDonald’s everyday?

Do it.

Do you want to be a #fitspo model on Instagram?

Do it.

Do you want to travel the world like a gypsy, forgoing a consistent income?

Do it.

But know, that everything has it’s price.

And it’s all on you.

That it all comes back to creating the better good for yourself, so that you can be the best possible version of yourself that you can be.

Which benefits all of us.

But most of all, if benefits YOU.

It’s the new modern holy trinity.

BALANCE.

TRANQUILITY.

PEACE.

If what you truly want in life is balance, tranquility, and peace – set about making that happen for you.

Stop pointing the finger. Stop bitching about it. Stop blaming everyone else, and allow yourself to make the choice once and for all.

Listen to your heart.

Listen to your intuition.

And go about creating that balance.

That tranquility.

That peace.

Decide how bad you really want it.

So today, from someone who first-handedly thought that they “had it all” – know this:

You CAN have it all.

Just not all at once 😉 …

YOU HAVE #NAILEDIT

Yesterday afternoon, I was tagged in a video from one of my your sister-in-laws.

It was a snippet of the video from your wedding day.

As I watched this video, I teared up.

Because that’s how I am.

I cry all the time.

I am unapologetically, all woman.

As much as that may madden you.

As much as our mother would tell me that I need to “take a spoonful of cement, and harden up”.

I will never apologise for being both a combination of soft, and strong (with the help of your wise, firm, and tireless guiding hand…)

I can feel the energy, and emotion of everything swirling about me.

Like a sponge, I absorb everything.

Like I do.

It’s my “thing”.

It’s my gift.

And my curse…

Alongside everything else in this bizarre, and clumsy life we are all living.

We are all “winging it”.

But in the short snippet of this video, I know, within “my waters”, that you have #NailedIt.

I saw the look of pure love, adoration, and mutual respect in your husbands eyes.

And in yours.

I felt the happiness.

And peace.

In both of you.

At committing to a lifetime of loving, and respecting one another.

Because that’s what it’s all about.

Love, and respect.

The song that played in the background of your video was called “Wedding Song”, by Angus and Julia Stone”.

And the lyrics of that song touched me deeply.

With everything within my heart, I wish these sentiments for the pair of you two lovebirds.

“And I’ll wind up every day
Thinking about the way you make me feel
When your lips touch my lips
And I’d crawl inside a cave
Or live somewhere strange
As long as I’m with you
I have got what I need”

It’s that last sentence that gets me.

“As long as I’m with you, I have got what I need.”

Because that’s all that really matters.

That as long as you’re with the one that has your heart, you have all that you need.

Nothing else matters.

It all pales into insignificance.

I recall another sister (a non-blood related sister – I have 2 non-blood related sisters) telling me once, that the only way to tell that you are truly in love, is to be stranded on an island, with your “significant other”.

So to my little sister, who is so much more the “older” sister, and in so many more ways than I can possibly imagine, I send you, and my new brother, ALL of the love.

And then some.

You have found your “significant other”.

You have #NailedIt.

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BE TRUE TO YOU

I am on the fence about so many things in life.

I believe in everything, and nothing.

It’s the Gemini in me.

I usually see both sides of the coin.

I remember, more than a year ago now, I published an article about ways that women can feel more confident about themselves if they are feeling like shit.

It pretty much touched upon the aesthetic, and perhaps superficial side of being a woman.

Wearing makeup.

Looking pretty.

Looking feminine.

These things that I recommended, were a tool that I personally use to feel more confident about myself.

They were all ways, and still are ways, that I put on my “armour”.

To be able to feel better about myself, as a woman, in order to get things done.

Because I’m all about whatever works.

And my personal mantra for my own life, is doing “whatever it takes you to get to where you need to go”.

When I published that article, I was met with anger from “feminists” on social media, who threatened me with physical violence, and publicly humiliated me, for in their opinion, being vapid, unintelligent, and conforming to societies pressures of what us women have been fighting so hard for, in terms of being exploited, and undermined for our gender.

Now there is one thing that I would like to touch upon in this article.

It’s the fact that as women, we should be there for our fellow sisters, to support each other, no matter what packaging we may come in, and for whatever way we choose to present, and make ourselves feel better about living our lives as authentically as we possibly can.

I love women.

I also love men.

I love human beings.

If I am to put a label on myself (which I detest labels in every way you can conceivably imagine), I am a “humanist”.

I have had good, and bad experiences with both sexes.

Like most of us.

And yes, I have absolutely felt demeaned at times on account of my gender.

However it has not always been at the hands of men.

In my life so far, a fair proportion of those bad experiences have come from women themselves.

I have been bullied by women.

I have been manipulated by women.

I have been personally attacked by women on account of the things that I have chosen to write about.

In the way that I have chosen to live my life.

I have been ostracised.

And I have been humiliated.

One thing that I want to touch upon, is the need that I feel to apologise for being a woman.

Ironically,  and contradictorily, I refuse to apologise for being a female.

And I refuse to take on any masculine qualities to prove myself to anyone.

I am a typical woman.

I’m a girly girl.

I cry very easily.

I am often irrational, and overly emotional.

I am a little bit crazy at times.

I often have “panic attacks”.

I feel like I am not enough.

That I am a fraud.

That I am a slave to my emotions.

And I am not immune to flattery.

What human being is?

I am insecure.

I am also a slave to my menstrual cycle.

And I like nice things.

I like beautiful clothes.

I like make up.

I like false eyelashes.

I love my curves.

I like the “four seasons” that I have each month.

And I can’t do a goddamn thing about them. Even if I wanted to.

They are there, whether I like them or not.

I accept me, for me.

I like my sensitivity.

I like my soft heart.

And I’m sick of apologising for being a woman.

And you know what?

I REALLY like being a woman.

So does that make me a feminist?

No.

Because like I announced earlier, I am a “humanist”.

We are all trying to figure it all out.

We are all winging it.

Trying as hard as we can to be the best possible version of ourselves that we can be.

We are all trying to be as compassionate as we can.

Most of us anyway.

I love all of the women that have been there for me in my life.

And all of the men.

More than words can express.

They are all my sisters.

And my brothers.

As I write this evenings article, I am listening to the “Scissor Sisters”.

I am listening to “Laura”.

A lyric in that song is “this will be the last time I ever do your hair”.

To those that have chosen to judge me, to throw me under the bus, and abandon me – this will be the last time I ever do your hair.

To both men, and women.

I got a message this evening from someone very special in my life.

A man.

Ironically – to the feminists.

It read:

“We are simple. Women are crazy, complicated, and driven by emotion and competition. I think men are competitive, but usually only over women or sport.”

So to everyone – males, and females – stop trying to “one-up” each other in this relatively short life.

Love, and accept each other for who you are.

I recall doing an interview, for a yet to be published article about my writing.

And I quoted Arianna Huffington in that article on her thoughts on the “Women’s Lib” movement:

“What Women’s Lib might achieve if their “consciousness raising” – or in plain English, brainwashing – campaign succeeds is a society whose members have identical roles but are perpetually at war with themselves: a society of males made neurotic by suppressed masculinity, of females made miserable by having masculine roles thrust upon them that contradict their feminine impulses.”

I agree with everything she has said .

Like it or not.

Stop carrying hate, greed, and the need to “win” in your heart.

Allow yourself to feel the human the gift of acceptance, compassion, and empathy.

Take it all back to basics.

And only allow goodness into your world.

Of “non-competition”.

In whatever form in takes.

Remain balanced.

Pay attention to what it is that you are willing to put up with.

Stop worrying about what everyone else wants.

Concern yourself with what YOU want.

And keep that head of yours firmly planted on your shoulders.

Be true to you.