Following Up with Shame

Confession time. The term “vulnerability hangover” is not my own. I have absorbed it from Brené Brown reflecting on her TEDxHouston talk on the power of vulnerability. Here how she started at TED 2012.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about my TEDxHouston Talk. I woke up the morning after I gave that Talk with the worst vulnerability hangover of my life. And I actually didn’t leave my house for about three days.

The first time I left was to meet a friend for lunch. And when I walked in, she was already at the table. And I sat down, and she said, “God, you look like hell.” I said, “Thanks. I feel really — I’m not functioning.” And she said, “What’s going on?” And I said, “I just told 500 people that I became a researcher to avoid vulnerability. And that when being vulnerable emerged from my data, as absolutely essential to whole-hearted living, I told these 500 people that I had a breakdown. I had a slide that said Breakdown. At what point did I think that was a good idea?”

I went for a walk this morning, the random shuffle gave me Joy from The Sundays. And I was taken back to a time in my life when I felt truly ashamed. Such a beautiful song, such a strong sense of shame. Not what I felt I needed this morning, but opening this big question on compassion and vulnerability means being brave enough to receive an answer I might not want to hear.

So Brené Brown’s second TED talk has been on my mind – for the vulnerability hangover, for courage, and for thinking deeply about shame.

[Day 38: Listen]



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