Neuro-biologically, we are hard-wired for connection. Connection is why we are here. Connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The feeling of being connected is the ability to link or associate with something, to belong; like what holds the pedals of this flower together.
Ask your closest friends and family about connection and they will tell you their most excruciating stories of heartbreak and feeling excluded. That place where we see at a distance what we long to grab hold of and feeling like it is too far away or attainable.
That place that screams from the deepest part of our heart and says, “I feel alone and it doesn’t feel right”. I have been there. I have been holding the hand of someone whom I desperately desired to connect with and feel the distance is too great a span for meaningful connection to occur. I have felt that no matter what I do, there is no kindness or gentleness or acceptance. It makes my heart weep and scream and whirl.
In the midst of the screaming and feeling alone, we begin to gather shame. Shame is the fear of disconnection. It is the belief that there is something about me that if other people know or see, that thing will make me unworthy of connection and I will remain alone.
Universally, we all feel shame unless we have no capacity for human empathy. It looks like: “I’m not _____ enough.”
- I’m not smart enough.
- I’m not thin enough.
- I’m not rich enough.
- I’m not beautiful enough.
- I’m not successful enough.
Shame unravels connection.
In order to connect, we must find the courage to tell the story of who we are with our whole heart. We must be willing to be imperfect and fully who we are, letting go of who we think we should be to be considered worthy of connection. We need to be brave enough to see that we are different from those standing right next to us and that truth makes us beautiful and unique.
We must fully embrace vulnerability. We must allow ourselves to be seen, really seen. On my walk to the beach this morning, I met this gentleman who was walking his pet lamb (isn’t it cool that he has a pet lamb and is taking it for a walk?). I stopped to say hello and make a connection. He told me, “She does not like the lead. She is a bit stubborn.” I rubbed her ears and said, “We girls can all be a bit stubborn at times, can’t we?” As I walked away, I was flushed with a sense of shame that I had just told a complete stranger that as a woman, I have a stubborn streak. Yet, after thinking about it, I felt brave as well. I looked at an imperfection and declared it openly with vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and joy and creativity and of belonging and love. When we find that vulnerability and tenderness are important, we will surrender and kind of walk into it. When we do, we find a willingness to take risks that bring us closer to each other; let our hair down, ask for help, initiate an embrace, love without guarantees and more.
According to Brene Brown, true, meaningful connections can be made if we will follow these 4 simple steps:
- We allow ourselves to be deeply and vulnerably seen.
- We love with our whole heart even if there are no guarantees.
- We practice gratitude and lean into joy during moments of terror when we wonder, “Can I love you this much?”; “Can I believe in this as passionately?”; “Can I be this fiercely brave about this?”
- We believe that “We Are Enough”. Because when we believe that we are enough, we stop screaming and we start listening. We are kinder and gentler to ourselves. And we are kinder and gentler to those around us.
To feel vulnerability means that I am alive. That you are alive. Being vulnerable opens the door to being connected which gives fulfilment to the purpose of our lives.
We live in a vulnerable world. What makes you feel vulnerable?
Embrace your vulnerability and get connected!