Vulnerability: From Brene Brown’s Ted Talk to Daily Life

I have found when working with people from a variety of backgrounds that so many common themes become apparent in regards to human suffering. That is to say, that regardless of the differences in culture, gender or a myriad of other defining characteristics, there are many similar needs that transcend all of them. These needs frequently boil down to those that Abraham Mazlow describes in his writings, those I have touched on before in prior blogs (Abraham Mazlow info link).

As most of the clients I see have their physiological and security needs met when they come to my office we, very often find ourselves dealing with love, acceptance and belongingness with some self-concept/esteem issues frequently tied into that. In a nutshell, that is about relationships and conectedness. As human beings, so many of our stressors seem to be associated with our sense of feeling safely connected to others. Connectedness is key to a feeling of happiness. When we have that sense we feel relaxed. When that need is met we can relax our striving to get connection. But, to feel connected we need to believe that we are worthy of connection. Without that belief we find it difficult to relax into connection, that sense that someone else likes us being there; that their life is better for being connected to us.

For many people this is surprisingly difficult. I hear people say often that when they get a compliment or a friend gives them positive feedback that they don’t know what to say and feel embarrassed. I think most of us can relate to that experience but for many people the idea of accepting that feedback and integrating it into a part of their knowledge about themselves is very difficult.

I have found the roots of this to sometimes be a belief that if they accept the positive feedback then they will seem conceited or that accepting would mean they would end up getting lazy about being a “good person” and then that either of those courses would lead to losing friends. So, I ask them, if you are working on connection and then evidence of connection comes your way, you can’t accept it because then you will lose connection?  This is obviously a no-win situation and, surprisingly not an uncommon way to think. There seems to a be a feeling of vulnerability tied into accepting that you might be ok. That you are enough just as you are now. Clients describe a feeling of fear around being ok with who they are.

Vulnerability is a big topic and I would like to talk more about it in the future but for today I am going to add a link to a very famous and well-watched TED Talk by Brene Brown who has since partnered up with Oprah Winfrey among others to talk about the link between control, vulnerability and connectedness. I have watched this TED Talk at least half a dozen times and get something new out of it every time I watch it. I ask some of my clients to watch this video as homework and have created a handout (below) with many of the ideas she shares that fit so well with the personal growth work that takes place in my office. Have a look and see what comes up for you. (link below.)

I feel strongly about this idea that each of us is enough just as we are and despite continuing to grow and learn we can know that we are enough to be worthy of love and connection from others. I feel so strongly that I had the phrase tatooed onto my arm…


Tattoo I am enough

Tattoo I am enough

Brene Brown – Ted Talk-

Becoming More Deeply Connected in Your Life Handout

  • Shame is the fear of disconnection; the fear that there is something about me that, if others know it or see it, I won’t be worthy of connection.
  • No one wants to talk about shame and the more you don’t talk about it the more you have it and the more you can’t connect (have love, acceptance and belongingness)
  • Have the compassion to treat others as you would treat yourself and visa-versa
  • What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful
  • Let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are
  • To connect you need the compassion to be kind to yourself first; if you can’t treat yourself kindly then it’s more difficult to be kind to others
  • Vulnerability is the key to connection
  • To fully embrace vulnerability, its necessary to stop controlling and predicting
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love
  • What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful because people can really see you and you feel real to them and that feels good to others
  • To connect you have to be seen (be authentic), be the real you
  • To have worthiness you need to have the courage to be imperfect
  • You need to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you are; that is authenticity
  • You need authenticity for connection

 Brene Brown – Ted Talk-

 * Remember Connection makes us feel safe in the world and peaceful. We are all worthy of connection. We were born that way.

Dawn Cox is a counsellor in Victoria BC and does counselling online via Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangout. Contact her at

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