Dr. Brene Brown TALKS about vulnerability and wholeheartedness

Although I have read Brene Brown’s breakthrough book, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” it was while watching her TED talk that I grasped the importance of vulnerability in successful connections with others.

Brown’s inadvertent discovery of the importance of vulnerability in our lives was generated by her research involving shame. That years-long process ultimately brought her to the development of a concept that she calls “wholeheartedness.”

“Messy” is how Brown refers to the serious topics of shame and vulnerability that she addresses in her TED talk.  She explains how we can “truly transform our lives, when we fully understand and accept these aspects of ourselves.”

Brown addresses these issues by using her own personal experiences, injecting them with humor and humility.  The years spent researching these important issues, and undergoing therapy herself, enabled Brown to “change the way I live, work and parent.”

Listening to Brown’s 20-minute talk fully engages one in a way that is very different than reading her book.  She instantly becomes a friend who is visiting and sharing something that you know is important. “Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back,” Brown reveals.  “I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.”  “If she can do it,” I think, “then so can I.”

Self-awareness and vulnerability are also key to having difficult conversations. Understanding—and accepting—who we are requires introspection and a lot of hard work.  Exposing our vulnerabilities to others takes courage.  It is the brave soul who says, “I am not perfect, but I am okay with who I am and I’m willing to share all of it with others.”  This kind of authenticity and the willingness to reveal it to others, can, as Brown says, “be life changing.”

A research professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, Brown makes frequent use of the word “courage” throughout her talk. She believes that “vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage and is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” It is also how we reach the “state” of wholeheartedness, which is the capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity and from a deep sense of worthiness.  It is having a strong sense of love and belonging and the courage to be imperfect.

If you haven’t already experienced Brown’s TED talk, take a few minutes to do it now and explore how living in a state of wholeheartedness might change your life.