The other day, I watched a TED talk given by Brené Brown called “The Power of Vulnerability.” I was so inspired that I decided to write a post about it and how it relates to what we deal with here on Strong Inside Out…
If there is anything I understand in life, it’s vulnerability.
I spent almost my entire life hiding my vulnerability, pretending I was tougher than I was. Hiding all the intense emotions that weighed me down everyday until I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Now, on the other side, my success has come from allowing myself to be vulnerable. Hell, pushing myself to be more vulnerable for all of you guys so that you (hopefully) feel less alone.
The thing about this is that every single one of us has this depth of vulnerability. And every single one of us struggles not to show it.
We get caught in this struggle to be perfect, and perfect people don’t hurt.
There’s a problem here: No one–not one person who has ever existed–has reached perfection. If you spend your entire life trying to be perfect, you will forever be disappointed in yourself.
Instead, we must focus on doing the best you can with what you have. It will never be perfect, and we have to be ok with that.
I still get sad sometimes. I still feel afraid on those few mornings a year that I wake up and don’t want to get up at all.
It happens still. But dealing with it is what gets me out every time.
I deal and I know now that I can’t be perfect, and I am slowly coming to terms with that… still.
This fight for perfection was deemed by Brown as a way to numb painful emotions.
One of the most interesting parts of Brown’s TED talk was this piece of information:
“You cannot selectively numb emotion.”
As we are today, we try to numb pain in all its forms as much as is humanly possible.
We hurt others so that they know our pain.
We make the unknown known and push away the things we can’t.
But we refuse to experience it.
If you’re anything like me, you might do this because:
You don’t know if you can handle the depth of your emotion.
You can’t control it.
It just doesn’t feel good.
You don’t know what will happen, and that unknown scares the begeezus out of you.
But you can’t solve anything if you refuse to deal with it.
I couldn’t do any of the work it took for me to crawl my way out of deep depression without choosing to face my life. What I was physically unhappy with, who I was keeping in my life for the wrong reasons, what I was doing that was sinking me deeper everyday.
The scariest part about this phenomenon:
By choosing to numb your pain, you’re numbing your happiness as well.
This was the part of Brown’s talk that really got me:
“You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”
This frightens me like no other.
The idea of people closing off their lives to happiness, joy and gratitude for fear of experiencing the uncomfortable makes my heart sink.
So today, I’m going to urge you to face your numbing agents:
What do you do to numb your pain/happiness?
Can you select from the list above, or do you have another form of avoidance that you go to when times get rough?
Here are some ideas you might be able to pull from:
Eating, drinking, drugs, blaming, road rage, yelling, abuse, passive aggressiveness, controlling, perfecting…
Facing these things takes courage, but I know you have it in you.
If you’re hoping to change your life, you’re going to have to get into the uncomfortable a bit here.
Dealing feels that way at first. Well, it feels that way a lot of the time, let’s be honest.
But you’ll get through hard times faster, you’ll feel more presently and deeply, and you’ll recognize gratitude, love and happiness more often because you won’t be focusing so hard on refusing to feel!
This idea that you could be making yourself miserable when you have the opportunity to get out of it scares me more than I want to admit to you.
So I guess I’m asking you this:
How can I help you?
I’ve been there, I’ve felt that ache inside and tried to stuff it down. I’ve wanted to hide in a corner. I’ve wanted to end it all.
And yet, here I am now. It does get better.
How can I convince you that it’s possible, other than showing you?
What can I do, personally, to show you the light?
I want you to stop refusing to feel. I want you to end this blame game and start dealing.
Because you can do this.
Because you’re stronger than you think you are.
So how can I help you or those you know to come out of that dark place and start living the life you or they deserve?
What can I do?
Because I can sit here in my apartment and write all I want about it while people are out there hurting. While people are giving up.
I know your pain. I know where you are.
Let me help you out of it. Tell me what I can do to help.
In the comments below, tell me what I can do to help you start feeling, to start dealing so you can move on to the life you deserve to be living.
What topics do you want me to cover? Are you suffering and don’t know how to get out? What are you struggling with most? Are you scared to admit you’re struggling, or think there are other people out there struggling more, so you hesitate to reach out (I felt this way when I was struggling, too. Don’t- your pain is valid)?
If you don’t want to leave a public comment, email me personally instead.
Do you know someone who may be struggling? Please send this to them using the share buttons to the left side of this post, or tweet this by clicking below:
Also, if you’re having a hard time or want to help those who are, I highly recommend reaching out to the charity near-and-dear to my heart, To Write Love On Her Arms. They work to inspire hope in people who struggle with depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide with peer support.
If you need immediate support, please don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They effectively talked me down from the ledge when I needed it most.
Wherever you are in life, there is always hope. You are not alone in this.
…and if you haven’t by now, please go watch Brené Brown’s TED talk!