“We are the most obese, addicted, in debt, and medicated adult cohort in US history,”
reports Brené Brown, Ph.D and research professor at the University of Houston, in her TedTalk.
In her lecture, she illustrates how our ability to be vulnerable is directly reflected in the state of our lives (overweight, addicted, in debt or medicated)
She’s spent the past 10 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.
It’s a curious topic.
And, has some interesting implications for those of us on the weight loss journey.
Brown eloquently describes how we “numb” our way through life. We eat, drink, spend or medicate ourselves – anything to avoid uncomfortable feelings.
No surprises so far.
What is surprising from her research is this: when we numb one thing, we numb everything.
Apparently, we can’t selectively numb.
We can’t take the ‘bad’ stuff: fear, unworthiness, self-doubt, anger, jealousy, guilt, shame, and say, “Well, I don’t want to feel those emotions”, so I’ll drink a bottle of pinot noir and eat three boxes of Oreos.
(Well, actually, you can do that. Lots of people do. I know I did.)
But, there are implications. Implications that explain why we’re such an unhappy cohort.
Because, when you numb the ‘bad’ stuff, you also numb the ‘good’ stuff.
When we overeat, we numb our capacity for joy, love, courage, passion, laughter, connection, gratitude, contentment, happiness, peace and excitement.
Numb one, you numb ‘em all.
And, we create a vicious cycle.
We start by feeling stressed and vulnerable…
…so we numb…we feel flat, miserable…we feel even more stressed and vulnerable…
…so we numb some more…
And on it goes.
“Thing is”, says Brown, “to live is to be vulnerable.”
Somehow, somewhere we’ve forgotten this truth.
Aside from the obvious numbing strategies of overeating, maxing credit cards, self-medicating – we’ve also created less obvious life-sapping strategies to ‘protect’ us from feeling vulnerable.
Like, we invest a ridiculous amount of energy making everything that’s uncertain, certain. We buy guarantees, schedule our lives to the last nano-second and over-analyse e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.
Or, we become perfectionists. We tell ourselves that if we do everything perfectly, no one will criticise us, and, well, we won’t be vulnerable. Exhausting, though, isn’t it?
Or, we blame. Ourselves, other people, or the world at large. It’s all the same. Sure, when we blame we discharge our pain and discomfort (and avoid being vulnerable), but how happy are we… reeeally?
We’re tremendously creative at avoiding vulnerability, aren’t we?!
So, what’s a girl to do?
Brown encourages us to embrace our vulnerability.
Numbing ourselves isn’t working. We’re not a bunch of happy campers.
She shares that, “Paradoxically, what makes people vulnerable also makes them beautiful.”
Because “Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.”
So, how do we embrace the V-Word and be whole-hearted?
Be kind to yourself.
Be authentic and real.
Love with your whole heart. Even though there’s no guarantee your love will be returned.
Be seen. Deeply seen.
Believe you’re enough. Now. (Right now). As you are.
When you come from a place that says, “I’m enough”, we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to those around us and we’re kinder and gentler on ourselves.
You can see Brown’s lecture here. You’ll be pleased you did.
(Whole-hearted) love etc, Avril