Posts Tagged ‘Ted Talks’

A couple months ago, a friend sent me a link to a TED talk about vulnerability.  I was traveling and didn’t get around to watching it until a couple days ago.  I realized right away that I had already seen the talk, and although I couldn’t remember any specifics, I remember liking it so I kept watching.  I liked it again.  And then I watched a follow-up talk the speaker, Brene Brown, did, also at TED.  This time it was about shame.

Main messages:

vulnerability = good

shame = bad

I figured I must have already written about vulnerability, but I couldn’t find anything on my blog specifically about that, so I thought I’d do it.  I definitely haven’t touched shame.

(Aside #1:  I just finished an article in The New Yorker about the phenomenon of TED talks, and had a pang of feeling cliche to be writing about another TED talk on my site!  The article is very interesting and points out what you kind of know after watching a TED talk:  they are skillfully produced.  And produced to pull you in and make you emotional.  I had to ask myself if I’m just another tool who drank the kool-aid.  But I decided, screw it…produced or not, these two talks bring up a lot of important things and if they give people something to think about and examine about their lives, then so be it.)

(Aside #2:  I watched the videos up in Bolinas, where I was providing moral support for my younger son who was going to a camp up there with a friend.  I was only supposed to stay for two days and then leave him for the rest of the week.  But my son was struggling.  He’s very attached to home and family and he has a hard time stepping out of his comfort zone.  He doesn’t like to feel vulnerable.  Every time I talked with him about staying alone, he would tell me to speak more quietly.  He didn’t want his friend to know he was nervous.  He was embarrassed.  And then I realized I was also feeling vulnerable because I know that some people feel I am too soft with my son.  And I know I am sometimes, but I honestly don’t see the point in pushing him too far too fast.  But at the same time I know he needs to become independent and learn to cope in uncomfortable situations.  What was the “right” thing to do?

After I dropped my son and his friend at camp yesterday morning, I drove away.  Headed back to S.F.  I was struggling with my own fear that it would be hard for him, and knowing it was time for me to get back.  I felt like I should rush home and start working, but then I saw the sign for Stinson Beach and thought there was absolutely nothing so pressing that I shouldn’t take a little time to unwind.

I walked and thought, and thought and walked.  I thought about vulnerability and shame and how closed off so many people are.  I felt glad that my son could recognize his vulnerability and I, mine.  And we could still move forward.

He’s coming home this evening and I will hear all about it.  I did get a text at 6:30 a.m. this morning.  Nothing wrong, just reaching out.)

My asides aside, I think both TED talks are worth watching and hearing.  It’s a good reminder that as uncomfortable as being vulnerable is, it’s what gets people closer together and what brings us to new places.  And, we all have shame.  Don’t let it rule your world.

I’ve continued to think about the idea of happiness since my last blog post, so when my sister sent me a link to a TED talk about happiness, I watched.  What I saw and heard really resonates with me.  It’s a 2004 TED talk by Eve Ensler, the woman who wrote The Vagina Monologues (click here to listen). The talk is about how she found a new type of happiness while doing that project, and in the work that has come out of it.

She describes her realization very clearly.

Happiness exists in action, it exists in telling the truth and saying what your truth is, and it exists in giving away what you want the most.

This strikes a deep chord with me, especially the telling the truth part.  And she is not talking about the truth as in “Did you cheat on your test?” or “Did you eat the last cookie?”  She is talking about a deeper truth, the truths that so many people refuse to see or can’t face.  The truths that individuals, families, countries hide every day.  For Ensler, the truth she found while doing The Vagina Monologues, and in her work that has followed, is that women and girls are suffering and all too often are not given a chance to express that.  She talks about that being her experience as a child, and how working to give voice to girls and women she has been able to heal.

I feel like our society discourages truth.  We are meant to be happy, put on a good face.  We are not meant to talk about the pain and difficulty of growing older.  We just get plastic surgery.  We are not meant to talk about the difficulties of pregnancy or the stress that having children puts on a marriage.  We are supposed to revel in our sweet babies and buy the best strollers, clothes and toys, and send a boasting holiday card each and every year.  We are meant to be grateful for our job because it’s a “good company” and we have benefits.  We’re not supposed to talk about how it’s killing our soul.

For better or worse, I am a truth teller.  It doesn’t always serve me well, but it’s all I know.  As I have gotten older, I’ve learned to be more skillful and sometimes subtle in telling my truth with others.

It was a relief when I started to train to be a life coach.  It was all about telling the truth!  And people wanted me to say more, tell more.  I had learned to hide my truth and people were asking me to bring it out again…they wanted more.

And now my job is to hear people’s truth.  It’s exactly what Ensler says about happiness existing when we give away what we want the most.  That’s me!  What I have always wanted in my life, personal and professional, is to be seen and be heard.  As I coach, I am able to give people a place to be seen and heard…to speak their truth.

It feels right, and I’d even say I’m happy, in this pursuit.

What is your truth?