Let’s face it, we live in a culture that applauds appearances more than almost anything. And keeping them up. While it used to be just about “keeping up with the Joneses,” now we’re also loaded down, preoccupied with fear over safety and security, protecting ourselves, our children, shielding our computers and our country from terrorism and cyberstalking.
We live in an uncertain world. Preoccupied with safety and security, we live in fear; fear of not having enough, fear of not being enough.
And when it comes to the heart, it’s even more intense. We’re hesitant, afraid to be honest and open, vulnerable even with those we love the most. And we’re spending a lot of energy protecting ourselves from pain and discomfort, heartbreak.
We even question whether we’re worthy enough to deserve connection at all. What’s going on?
At the root of all this pretense is SHAME, according to Dr. Brené Brown, a researcher and expert on this and related “messy” subjects, as she says, who uncovered this “Excruciating Vulnerability” during six years of research, writing her breakthrough Daring Greatly book ~ and her own painful experiences in the process.
This explains a lot about why we are so preoccupied with what others think. And how we look. Why we are afraid of being exposed, afraid of not being good enough, not worthy enough to be loved.
So how do we try to cope? “We numb ourselves,” says Dr. Brown.
We shut ourselves off. We put up walls to intimacy. We drown ourselves with “a couple of beers and a banana nut cupcake.” as Dr. Brown shares in her now infamous The Power of Vulnerability TED Talk.
Here are some common reaction blocks to vulnerability we need to become aware of, NOT continue:
1. We blame. Ourselves and others. Whether it’s an oil spill, a product recall, or an argument, we, as a culture, are quick to evade being accountable.
2. We perfect. We put “fat from our butts into our lips.” Spend tons on fashion and makeup, working out and trying to make ourselves look good, better.
3. We pretend. Everything is okay and we live in the greatest country in the world. Yet, we are the most in debt, obese, addicted, medicated adult culture in history. And in denial about it, as Dr. Brown points out. For more insight into this uncomfortable, but fixable situation, read my YourTango article: Addiction Pandemic: 7 Reasons Why We’re Addicted to Everything.