I have become a total dork for TED Talks, especially in my chosen major, psychology. This particular one? This one brought tears to my eyes and clarity to my mind.
In this video, Brown discusses her research on vulnerability and how it provokes feelings such as doubt, shame, and sadness. She carries on to say, that though vulnerability provokes negative feelings, it is also responsible for positive feelings such as, happiness, love, courage, and gratitude.
Brown then discusses the downside to this revelation; people tend to avoid vulnerability like the plague. Brown explains that when a person decides to not feel the negative aspects of vulnerability , they also numb the positive, more beautiful aspects of it. When this happens, a person can lose their purpose, which makes them feel more vulnerable, and a sick the cycle begins. Vulnerable, numb, vulnerable, more numb….
Brown even suggest that we place this fear of vulnerability on our own children, to which she stresses that parents should consider removing phrases like “she’s so perfect” from their vocabulary, and instead saying things like “you are imperfect and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
All of this information hit me like a ton of bricks. Last week, as I prepared to bring in the new year, I was beyond sad and depressed, and I couldn’t figure out why. I am right where I want to be in life, yet, I found and still find myself in a constant state of unhappiness. I haven’t been truly happy since Shlomo and I were madly in love, and because I’ve pretty much wrapped my mind around the end of us, I couldn’t understand why it was still taunting me. This TED Talk slapped me in the face with my answer;
I wasn’t allowing myself to feel out of fear that I would once again experience the pain of missing and loving him.
Brown makes mention of the way modern Americans drown out their sorrow, in an attempt to not feel anything more than what has become socially acceptable. My method for avoiding the pain? Staying busy, ALL.OF. THE. TIME.
I could see very early on that the people around me (minus my mother) had very little patience for my grief. From hateful people that came across my blog, to the people I called friends, family, and even the boy I loved at the time… words like “crazy ex-girlfriend,” “clingy,” and “you’re so desperate” ran through my mind as it left their lips. I knew for the sake of preserving relationships, it was time to get over it… So I did. I went to the gym for 2-3 hours a day, I studied and volunteered myself for any and everything school related, I worked as many hours as possible, and I kept friends around for the sole purpose of staying distracted.
Naturally, I accomplished quite a bit… a slimmer body, a 4.0 GPA, a resume FILLED with extra curricular activities, and maybe a few new shiny things my hard work bought me..But I could feel that something was missing. On December 31st, I looked back, and all I could remember feeling that year was unbearable sadness and heartache or nothing at all, there was no in-between. I began a cycle that Brown implied was a numb cycle. I didn’t want to feel him, but at 20 years old, I still needed a purpose in life, and there my cycle of avoiding vulnerability began; leaving me successful, and miserable. The sad thing is, I couldn’t figure it out, until Shlomo sparked up a conversation and pulled me out of that numb cycle.
Our conversation and this Ted Talk made me realize why I correlated him with my happiness…
Brown’s solutions for breaking the numb cycle included:
- Letting yourself be seen, truly and deeply
- Loving with all of your heart with no guarantees
- Practicing gratitude and joy in times of terror when your mind is thinking “Can I love you this much or believe in this so passionately?”
- Believing you are enough
That list made me realize that Shlomo pulled me out of my numb cycle because even though we’ve been apart for a year, he is still the only person in this world that I have been 100% vulnerable with. I let him see every part of me, even the ugly bits of my mind that made other people cringe. Being with him allowed me to love someone wholeheartedly without any concern about the end or heartbreak. I have never been more happy to trust someone with my heart and soul then I was with Shlomo. He gave me the assurance Brown suggested parents give their children…We both knew I wasn’t perfect, but he gave me love and belonging anyway; because of that, I was enough for myself and the world.
I cannot explain how relieved I am. I am not doomed to be miserable, I am not still madly in love with him, and I no longer feel the need to apologize for what I feel. All of the things I was terrified of being reality, have just come into focus as terrible side effects of numbing my own vulnerability.
So you know what my biggest new years resolution is? To not be afraid of who I am and what I feel. I loved that boy dearly, and when he got a new girl, it crushed me, it still kind of hurts to think he could replace me as I struggle to do the same, but that’s okay. Missing him even though he’s completely moved on, does not make me weak or a “crazy ex-girlfriend,” it makes me human. Being scared of applying to Ivy League schools and eventually leaving home does not make me neurotic or high maintenance, it makes me real. Showing emotions that aren’t always pretty doesn’t make me a nuisance, it makes me stronger…
It is time to do for myself what Shlomo once did for me. It is time to love everything about myself. I. AM. ENOUGH. It’s time for me to allow myself to feel everything and be who I am without shame, because in the words of Brown…
” To feel this vulnerable means I am alive.”
Thanks for reading guys. I hope you enjoyed this random epiphany as much as I did. I’m going to go wipe the tears (of happiness) out of my eyes, but while I do that, feel free to let me know… Does this apply to you? Are you too guarded? Do you have that person you can be vulnerable with?
Lucy Loves Life…and TED Talks xx