Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

2.13.2011

Thoughts from a Researcher-Storyteller

Or, Do You Believe You're Worthy of Love and Belonging?

A couple weeks ago I shared an article on Facebook about Facebook (and other social media) that wondered, "Is Facebook making us sad?" The basic premise is that people generally only share highlights and good times on social media, so our banal, mundane, and difficult times seem all the more so in comparison. Everyone must have a better life than me, it seems, if that's all you have to go on.

There are countless ways to make yourself feel lousy. Here's one more, according to research out of Stanford: Assume you're alone in your unhappiness. . . .

The comments for the most part supported the article's assertion, and one even included the statement, "I decide not to reveal my vulnerability on Facebook." I don't know how well I actually succeed at this, but one of the things I decided early in my blogging that I attempt to carry throughout my socializing, online or otherwise, is to allow my vulnerabilities to show. My intro statement in sharing the articles included, "Personally, I try to share my humanity not my highlights." One of the things I've noticed in the people I admire and want to be like, in the literature and blogs I like to read, in the Facebookers who I enjoy following, etc., is that they're willing to be vulnerable. I feel more connected to them because of it, and I think they are more authentic, powerful people for it.

I bring all of this up in the context of a TED talk by Brene Brown I want to share titled, The Power of Vulnerability. It's good. Very good. More than worth the twenty minutes it takes to watch. I've pulled out some quotes from the transcript (available at the site) for those who don't have time right now, but I hope if you like what's below you can get to it sometime. I even left out quotes from the conclusion in an attempt to give you some incentive to watch. The embedded video follows the quotes:

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. . . .

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. . . .

And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. . . . 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. . . .

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. . . .

So these folks had the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, 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 they had in common was this. They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. . . .

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.” . . .

You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. . . .

The other thing we do is we make everything that’s uncertain certain. . . . I’m right, you’re wrong. Shut up. That’s it. Just certain. . . . There’s just blame. You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort. . . .

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. . . .




Postscript: In many ways this reminds me of something Cicadas Electric said in her post Commiseration (The Mid-Winter Blues) about some of her favorite music: But these disparate individuals (from each other and from me) can speak to universal emotions (loneliness, failure, regret), and I know that I’m not quite alone, and there’s hope and even joy in that. And that’s not so depressing at all.

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