Living with wholeheartedness takes courage, compassion, connection, and vulnerability

Often when someone asks me to use my NLP training to help them move through a problem state to one of resourcefulness, I have just read or seen or heard something that applies in their situation.

I bring that new information in, and it helps them expand. (I dislike the term “solving problems,” because it seems so linear. Instead we dance with problems, move with them, do the tango, maybe even a little jitterbug, and always end up with new possibilities.)

I do not know how this works, that I find information and inspiration just in time, but I am grateful for these synchronicities. I feel plugged in to the cosmos when this happens. Thank you for taking care of me, cosmos, since I’m meeting up with someone later to play with NLP.

This morning I encountered a wonderful TED Talks video that Alan Steinborn posted on Facebook. (Alan walks with beauty and resourcefulness.)

I can tell this video is going to be a huge resource for me and for those I work/play NLP with.

It’s also incredibly apt for year’s end, when many of us search for the core issue to acknowledge and attend to and dance with during the coming year.

Dear blog readers, read this post or watch the video. Which area of your life can benefit most from your loving attention in 2011?

In the 20-minute video, the gifted and funny Ph.D. social worker Brene Brown discusses her research findings about shame and worthiness. Click the link and watch it if you have time; if not, read on for a synopsis.

Brown says there is only one variable between the people who have a sense of love and belonging and those who struggle for it and are always wondering if they’re good enough:

The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.

That’s it. That’s what separates the people who live their lives feeling worthy from those who don’t. A belief in their own worthiness.

(NLP works with beliefs.)

To break this sense of worthiness down even more, Brown reviewed her research and found that those who feel worthy share these characteristics:

  • Courage. It’s not the same as bravery. It means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.
  • Compassion. They are kind to themselves first, and then to others.
  • Connection. They are willing to let go of who they think they should be in order to be who they actually are.
  • Vulnerability. They are willing to do something first, to do something where there are no guarantees.

Brown then went to a therapist to work on her own vulnerability issues. She noted that this single characteristic is at the root of shame and fear and the struggle with worthiness, and also of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.

With a humorous display of her own worthiness, she relates how she told the therapist she didn’t want to deal with family or childhood issues, she just needed some strategies!

She spent a year in therapy struggling with her vulnerability, knowing it’s a huge issue for so many others, and then spent two more years on this research.

She states plainly:

We are the most in debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.

We numb ourselves to avoid our vulnerability.

You cannot selectively numb emotion.

When we numb, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.

To paraphrase, “and then we’re miserable and feel vulnerable, and we numb it, and the vicious cycle starts over.”

Besides addiction, we use certainty to numb — certainty about religion, certainty about politics, certainty about our opinions.

We also use perfection to numb. We perfect our bodies. We perfect our children. Brown notes that children are wired for struggle. If we can let them struggle and also believe they are worthy of love and belonging, wow, what a world that would be to live in!

We also numb by pretending that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people. Oil spills, recalls, global warming, and so on. We avoid taking responsibility and making amends.

To change this direction, she recommends that we…

  • Let ourselves be seen.
  • Love with our whole hearts, even though there are no guarantees.
  • Practice gratitude and joy.
  • Believe that you are enough.

I hope this helps you strengthen your wholeheartedness and believe in your worthiness for love and belonging.


2 thoughts on “Living with wholeheartedness takes courage, compassion, connection, and vulnerability

  1. Mary Ann, I had watched this talk a couple of times and was thinking I was going to watch it and take notes with my keyboard. I still may, but you sure did an excellent job. Thank ou. This talk struck me as a most wonderful outline of the three noble truths. When she said “that’s all I got” it was a contrast to the Bude going on to say, “if you believe this to be true, then here are some practices you could try to help it settle into your life”


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