Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Just a phrase…was it?

Dave, a friend of mine posted a question on Facebook yesterday that got me thinking.  Why would a question get me going…because it is the second time he has asked me a deep, meaningful and life changing question!


There comes a time when we stop jumping at shadows… and get real!

The first one, posed some years ago was ‘what are you getting out of playing victim?’ 
I was shocked…it was like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over me. Yes there was a lot going on in my life at that time, yes I had had some major challenges…in fact I had written and self published a book about them.

Yet I was still stuck in what I now call ‘victimhood’. I did not recognise it then, I had come so far…but not far enough. I seemed to be in a space of thinking “I have faced my challenges’ life will be fine now. Nooooooooooooo it wasn’t, and nooooooooooo facing one challenge does not conquer all.

The ‘meaty’ bit is learning strategies so you handle the next challenge better. Have you noticed that life simply keeps giving us a better class of challenge…a bit like the Universe saying…Ok let’s see how you handle this one! Hence the value of a strategy and process to assist you becomes invaluable.

Do I get it right every time? I wish….. or do I? For years I thought I was Manager of the Universe no one could get along without me! What a shock when I realised I was a mere mortal. Speaking for me…my challenges have been wonderful stages of growth.

Now don’t think I am going soft and considering sitting on the verandah in my slippers and spend the rest of my days knitting…Just saying the Universe manages extremely well without me.

Back to yesterday’s question –
Is vulnerability our most accurate measurement of courage? Ah ha! this is when I discovered my education was lacking…I decided to ask Mr Google the question and ….discovered it arose out of a TED talk by Brene` Brown.

This is the one that inspired me!

After a TED talk Brene` says she had the worst ‘vulnerability hangover’ ever after sharing. ‘There are parts of us that want to play small, to stay under the radar’ and her research has led her to the statement ‘vulnerability is out most accurate measure of courage’

There is a connection with deeply embedded shame which is described as the ‘swampland of the soul’ – it is not about building a home and live there with shame but to put on some galoshes and walk through and find our way around. 

Shame comes forth with the “I’m not good enough’,  and ‘who do you think you are’  – when we can quiet that down and say ‘I am going to do this’ that shows your vulnerability and courage is your getting up and having a go.

Shame is about self (I am bad), guilt focuses on behaviour (I did something bad).

Brene` was asked what about men? That is relevant to me…I have often been asked why I work with women...don’t I think men have issues to. Of course they do…I simply thought my skill base was relevant to women…yet I have helped many men also. I definitely value the men in my life.  

Here was her answer in brief - Shame by gender – for women – do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat. There is a web of unattainable conflicting expectations of who we are supposed to be. It is like a straight jacket. For men shame is not about unattainable conflicting expectations it is ‘do not be perceived as weak’ 

Brene` talked about connecting with each other…research was do women need to do to conform to female norms – tops answers were nice, thin, modest and use all available resources for appearance…for men to conform to male norms the answers were -  emotional control, primacy of work, pursuit of status and violence.

To find our way back to each other we have to understand empathy…empathy is the antidote to shame. Shame needs 3 things to grow – secrecy silence and judgement. If you dose shame with empathy it cannot survive.

The 2 most powerful words when we are in struggle are ‘me to’. 

How often do we think I will do it when I am perfect and bullet proof…it actually never happens like that…when you get in there perfection is not what we want to see…we want to be in there with you, sitting across and connecting. 


How often have you thought I would rather die than do X, Y, Z …….remember...what does not kill you makes you stronger.


My take from here is how powerful showing your vulnerability is, and how that powers your courage…perfection is an unattainable ideal…whatever you  do just get in there so go for it! Be the real, authentic and vulnerable you...that’s right a courageous woman making her difference in her world.

I would love to hear your thoughts on vulnerability and courage.

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