Thoughts on Vulnerability

I want to share and discuss a video that has inspired me. I saw this video a few months ago and this video blew me away. I found through TED on facebook and I knew back then that I have to share this video on this blog. Her message about vulnerability is excellent. Some messages that we hear hit a target within us because it’s something that we need to hear. So let’s hear it.

You can also click on TED website here,

The website has a transcript if anyone is having a hard time listening to her.

“Why do we struggle so much with vulnerability?”Yes, why do we? I do too, though things that make me vulnerable may be different from those of other people. As Brene Brown said it, “Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and our struggle for worthiness…”  With that sentence, she can actually create the second, third and fourth video of this topic, which she did later on. There is a video on the topic of shame that is also just as interesting as this one.

She threw in so many terminologies in the video, so many concepts that it was confusing at first. Confusing but makes sense to me. When I first watched this video several months ago, I understood right away what it was about, but it needs time I guess for the whole concept to sink in.

If I may try to sum up the video based on my understanding, here it is. It was interesting to me that she started earlier in the video to mention worthiness. Based on my understanding, what Brown means by worthiness are worthy of two things, belonging and love. People who feel that they belong to something, whether it is to family or a group of people through work or organization, and people who are capable to love are people that basically think that they are worth those two things: to belong and be loved. If people feel that they are not worth those two things, then a struggle is likely to happen within them. They may struggle to make connection with other people, and they may have a problem being authentic, being vulnerable. Because to be able to connect with other people, to love, to be loved back, and to belong, one has to be courageous enough to feel vulnerable.

And here is my own thought about the whole thing. Let’s start at worthiness because I think worthiness is the key. To me worthiness to love and belong should be everyone’s right to have. It’s human rights, it’s part of being human. Those two needs, to love (and vice versa to be loved) and to belong are crucial for every human being to survive. But not everyone receives those two things. Those who do not receive them may have a hard time with worthiness. Why? Let’s just say for example when a child feels that she is worth the love of her parents and therefore feels that she belongs to her parents, she may then develop a thought that she deserves to be loved by her parents. When the child thinks she deserves it, she can technically ask for it, demand it, want it and be given it. Worthy, deserves, they do connect. But how can she learn to ask, demand, want if she was never given or shown it before? Worthiness to love and belong therefore, is a privilege. It is not something that everyone has access to.

With that realization, it makes a person’s whole sense of worthiness very vulnerable then. It’s as if we depend on other people’s love, acceptance, connection, in order to feel we are worthy. It’s like a circle. One’s worthiness in return impacts other people’s worthiness, and so on. This is probably why as human beings, we are never free from this concept of vulnerability. There are and will be issues, situations, people that make us vulnerable. And what makes us vulnerable now may not be the same that make us vulnerable in the future or in the past. We go through changes in life, we meet new people, we perhaps encounter illness or accident that can make us vulnerable. Our vulnerability is never separated however, from other people. It has a social aspect.

It an addition to social aspect, vulnerability seems to me has an aspect of episode or process, which means that it has a beginning, a middle and an ending. I don’t think we should be feeling vulnerable about the same thing all through our live. We can choose to get out of it, but it doesn’t mean that we will never encounter vulnerability again in the future. How long will we feel vulnerable or how sooner we come out of that feeling vulnerable depends on how much support we receive from other people in the form of — and here is where we come back to the beginning of the circle — love and belonging, the two aspects of worthiness that Brown said in the beginning.

My goodness, I love this topic of vulnerability, but it is complex. What I discuss above is only a smidgen of many more aspects of vulnerability. It is indeed a complex one. I realize now after writing this essay that when we encounter a vulnerable moment, whether it is because we come into a situation, meeting new people, experiencing a changing in our needs and priorities, it is perhaps a blessing. It is an opportunity for a change, for something bigger and better, as long as we can win the fight against shame and fear. After all, Brown also said the following about vulnerability, “…that it [vulnerability] is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”