Friday, November 30, 2012

Vulnerability, Compassion and Community

I try hard to give off an air of confidence. It's a big part of my day-job, and I think it's a big part of my persona. I look like someone who's life is on track, who is not worried or anxious.

But it is not true! I do worry, and I am anxious - frequently.  And while I am generally very happy in my life, things are going my way mostly, that is a new story for me. 

Today a radio program featuring Brene Brown really spoke to me on this topic. I was reminded that my compulsion to show how busy I am, to seem in demand and confident, is a mechanism that protects me from shame. For example, I am ashamed of how much I play a video game, or how much I sit on the couch and watch old Family Guy episodes. I am ashamed that, as I write this, I am loading a nutty youtube. I fear the shame of criticism from others. So I project confidence, diligence, focus, and accomplishment.

Parents are forced to project confidence in front of children. Men and women project confidence to each other. Leaders cover their flaws with confidence. All of this has created a confidence culture, in which we avoid vulnerability

In truth, we are all vulnerable, and our vulnerability is a key to relationship and community. Our confidence forms into walls that isolate us, preventing us from being comforted or comforting someone else.  Our confidence instills a sense of independence that rejects the support of our relationships (that we desperately need, every one of us).

So open up! Fail at something! It still sucks to be vulnerable - sucks a lot - but you will be more available for the truth: we all need each other.

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