On authenticity, vulnerability, and living whole-heartedly

This is a post about intersection.

For two intense weeks, starting with the day I got kicked out of the blog name I’d apparently been squatting on, I lived in the No Man’s Land of the blogosphere. The exercise was more than just naming my blog; it was clarifying my identity.

So. Who am I? Really, at my core? And how do I bring that person to the surface more and more?

As you can tell, I decided I am a writer and a person who is trying to live open-heartedly, authentically, and mindfully (witness Perfect Moment Mondays).

The same day I found clarity and bestowed on this blog its new name, a TED video appeared in my Facebook stream that said so much of what I want to say on the matter of authenticity and whole-hearted living. And this is how I became acquainted with Brené Brown.

Brené Brown, PhD, is an academic researcher at the University of Houston Graduate School of  Social Work, as well as a storyteller. The two go together naturally, she says, because after all, “stories are just data with a soul.”

Below is her TED presentation on how the Whole-Hearted live. There is a reason I’m posting this close to the weekend. I want you to spend 20 minutes watching this. So settle in now, or bookmark and come back later when you have time.

Brené shares what her research shows is the prime factor that determines one’s ability to connect and feel a sense of belonging. (8:06)

  • That courage (Latin origin cor,  “from the heart”) is telling your story with your whole heart.
  • That people with an ability to connect and belong had the courage to be imperfect. (my struggle with perfectionism)
  • That they had the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others, because we can’t practice compassion if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.
  • And the last was that they had connection, as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were. (8:46)
  • The other thing that they had in common was that they fully embraced vulnerability. (9:40)

She tells how she experienced her own identity crisis as a social scientist.  The reason we do research is to control and predict. My mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown. (11:05)

I especially like what Brené says about parenting:

They [children] are hardwired for struggle when they get here. When you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, your job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect.” My job is not just to keep her perfect and make sure she makes the tennis team by 5th grade. Our job is to say, “Look you’re imperfect and you’re hard wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging. (18:15)

So watch for yourself. Or read Brené Brown’s article on CNN this week, Want to be happy? Stop trying to be perfect. Or check out her book, The Gifts of Imperfection.

May the message resonate for you the way it does for me.


21 thoughts on “On authenticity, vulnerability, and living whole-heartedly”

  1. I love, love, LOVE the above quote by Brown. It re-wires the way ~I~ think.

    Thanks for this – it is great food for thought.

    Love your new digs, BTW!!

  2. Hey Lori! Love your new digs!

    Glad you found Brene — she is indeed awesome. I discovered her through my photo blog friends at shutter sisters. A great group of women who are connected with Brene by similar philosophies. Isn’t fun when you find how small the blogosphere can be sometimes?

  3. loved the article and sent it to a few people. promise to check out the video when I’m more awake.

    and check it out, your celebrity crush found YOU.

  4. Thank you, dear LL for this post, I am getting misty eyed and nodding my head in agreement reading your excellent summary. I will give myself the gift of these twenty minutes to watch this.
    I think about the struggle with children and learn daily how resilent they are and hard wired for survival and happiness too.

  5. Tears & laughter all at the same time! THANK YOU for this! My FB status today actually said, “I love the weekends because I don’t have to wear make-up!” and this made me realize that that joy comes from being ABLE to be vulnerable and authentic! My job doesn’t let me do that (AT ALL), so when I can step into myself – even if it’s just for 2 days – it brings me joy. Now, I must find a way to be able to LIVE there!

    Love, light and laughter,

  6. I needed to read this today. I have been struggling with this as it pertains to how much of “me” to reveal on my blog vs just showing the shiney happy, fit in side of things. It hasn’t been easy revealing myself as a new ager because those interests seem so strange to some. But ultimately I decided there really was no other option for me….but that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel uneasy at times and wish that I could just be more darn mainstream.LOL

  7. I’m going to check her out, Lori. Her approach sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing and BTW, I like your new evolving identity! Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

  8. Okay, so I will have to view the video a little later, but I must say I am looking forward to it.
    I also just wanted to say that I can relate to your search for a new blog identity. I too am going through the same thoughts and ideas. What do I really want to write about??? I just changed my own blog name yesterday to hopefully reflect more accurately what interests and stirs me the most.
    I’m still working on it though……

    Also just wanted to say that I love your philosophy here. It really resonates with me and is similar to my own beliefs!

    Cheers Lori!

    Mon from ICLW (I think I’m No 61, with my old blog name!)

  9. Just watched Brene’s video. I loved it and found it interesting how she went through so much intellectually before she was able to have her own spiritual awakening. So much of how we process life is through logic and mental gymnastics, which often just don’t get us where we really need to go.
    I find that being mindful, yes and vunerable and just living in the moment (which often means surrendering to both the good and bad in our lives) is the key – at least it is for me.

    We should all feel worthy because we are all pretty amazing creations, when you really stop to think about it.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic….very interesting.

  10. I loved everything about the article…(and will check out the video when i get home) and her “truths” were inspiring. I think I am ready to stop being “perfect” and just be myself….trying to be the best “me” I can muster. 🙂

    thanks for sharing and for being you…always.

  11. I gave myself the gift of taking the time to watch this video. Fabulous!

    Brene provided so many great concepts and ideas…and wrapped it all up in a beautiful, personal story.

    I’m on my way to check out the article as well.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Awesome!

  12. She really strikes close to home and I can’t think of a single person I know who doesn’t need to hear what she’s saying (myself at the top of the list).

  13. Now I don’t need to do the post on worthiness I’ve been mulling for my blog. Instead, I need to go do a whole lot of thinking, and re-thinking, in the light this talk sheds.

    Thank you Lavender

  14. Wow.

    I finally made the time to watch this and all I can say is Wow. (And thank you for posting this.)

    This is my struggle. This is my life right now. This is what I am trying to learn.

    I may have more thoughts about it later, but I need to take it in a bit.

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