Brené Brown has said that vulnerability and struggle are the fundamentals of ‘wholehearted’ living – lives of relationship, courage and creativity.
In a conversation with Krista Tippett, Brené talks about how we buy into this mythology that vulnerability is a weakness, or as described by Krista, this ‘cultural allergy’ that we have towards being vulnerable.
Brené says that we hide our vulnerability because it’s quite a journey to find the ‘grown ups’ who can hold the space and sit in the discomfort with you. I know that I’ve struggled to find spaces where I can be real and imperfect, and in turn, vulnerable.
For Brené, vulnerability is the glue that holds connection together:
It’s all about our community humanity, and when we own our stories and we share our stories with one another and we see ourselves reflected back in the stories of people in our lives, we know we’re not alone. And to me, that’s the heart of wholeheartedness, it’s the center of spirituality. To me, that’s the nature of connection, to be able to see myself and hear myself and learn more about myself in the stories you tell about your experiences.
Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun, defines compassion as knowing your darkness well enough that you can sit in the dark with others. Mandy Reichwald, a former nurse who for most of her working life has helped care for terminally ill patients and their families, says that true compassion is about supporting and sustaining people so they can find their own strength.
We need to practice welcoming heartache as something that can help us grow into stronger, more compassionate human beings.
Would you mind if I cried a little next to you? If I showed you my heart, my darkness and also my light? I don’t mind if you cry a little next to me. I promise I’ll hold your hand. And maybe together we will find our strength.