05 Jun

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Vulnerability is a topic that has become all too common in today’s society.  We are vulnerable to things both within and beyond our control; from economic turns, job instability, technological insecurities and most of all, our own emotional nuances.

We are privy to see the changes of the world around us as it happens but does that make us more or less self aware of our own progress?  Does that make us forget that we can be vulnerable?

Brene Brown says it better than me here:

Now the real meat of the talk is around the nine minute mark but before going into it, I need to admit something.

I was in the mood for red velvet cake and this thing served chocolate brownies.  But what’s wrong with chocolate brownies?

Nothing, nothing at all.  With a glass of milk in hand, I can scarf down a dozen brownies and still be ready for more.  However in this case, I had to watch it a few times before the message properly uploaded into my small brain.  (I’m not even certain if it did or not.)  The reason why I simply wasn’t ‘connecting’ with the talk is simply due to what I believe, is a difference in personality.

The opening sequence of about the incredibly terrible event planner (but.. researchers are cool!) followed by the joke kicker of ‘no such thing’ made parts of my brain go “Lies!  Falsehood!  An introductory story trying to manipulate the viewer!” and suddenly that doubt took over.  As I digested the video, I was trying to extract what was story and what other elements were staged in the manner many speakers often utilize.  Jokes transformed into ‘Audience, laugh now’ cues, and I was left feeling rather unsatisfied at the end.

And if I was just watching this with friends, that might have been the conclusion.  However, I nerded it out and watched it a number of times that might be considered socially unacceptable.

So many questions continued during this time.  How does accepting vulnerability cause a breakdown?  Is “If you cannot measure it, it does not exist” a quotation?  How do I believe “I’m enough”?

The quote is available online, and unfortunately due to the nature of it, it is mentioned by a few sources.  Some people mention this phrase to induce discussions around philosophy, statistical analysis quotes it as a variable, and a company advertises that THEY can measure it, etc etc.  However, the most ‘bookish’ looking quote seems to be this.

“If I spoke to Rodman in those terms, saying that my grandparents’ lives seem to me organic and ours what? hydroponic? he would ask in derision what I meant. Define my terms. How do you measure the organic residue of a man or a generation? This is all metaphor. If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”
Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

As for the breakdown, it reminded me that the trait of needing control, preservation of self perceived social identity/ego and such could very well be more commonplace.  And with that, I am reminded of individuals who DO live for control and how something like this, is outside of the bento box.

In terms of self identity, I’m pretty certain I advertise the negative aspects of being a researcher.  People look at me and naturally and go “Fuck.  Boring and irrelevant, you are.”  <Insert a bunch of angry reactions here.>  In any case, sometimes I can break that barrier and sometimes its only a shrug and moving on.

And this leads to the meat I had mentioned earlier.  Brown explains ‘To stop controlling and predicting’… maybe not in sciences because that’s.. kind of important.  Rather, in the control and predicting of our human interactions.  Stop using NLP or Jedi Mind tricks to get people to clean the bathroom, just be who you are.  A bathroom cleaner.

Er.. I mean, just be who you are.  A person.

Now being a person is not enough, because our reality is one of a shared experience.  So… try to be nice?

Clearly, I have more research to do.

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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


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