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Awesome TED talk: The Power of Vulnerability in a global culture of deception and fakeness

A dangerously toxic message that continues to receive wide support throughout the human race is as follows:  show no weakness, highlight your strengths, and DO NOT show vulnerability.

I recently watched Brene Brown’s awesome TED talk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability”,  and I want to urge you to watch this with those you love.  Or share this with people around you who you believe are in pain currently.  Email this blog to teachers who are teaching psychology or other human science related disciplines.  Send this to people who work with children or in fields related to expanding human potential such as human resource professionals.

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation


The message of this talk is only by making ourselves vulnerable do we engage in the kind of deep relationship that we need to grow, to heal, or to reach our True Potential.

What a great message to share with your children in a time when Facebook and other social media encourage us to share only those aspects of our life that others would envy!!  It’s no wonder that there is significant research showing the more time people spend on Facebook the more depressed they tend to be.  She also wrote a book that I recommend entitled:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  This Book has 3755 reviews on Amazon and from all of those reviews received 4 ½ out of 5 stars!!

Key messages from Brown include: only by revealing our deepest pain do we give ourselves the chance to expand ourselves into our best selves.  Another great message: when we can share our deepest vulnerabilities we can become our strongest selves.  We can embrace our imperfections.  When we hide away the darkest parts of ourselves, we remain slaves to that darkness and prevent ourselves from getting anywhere near the Enlightenment that represents humanity at its most noble level.

If we cannot embrace our own imperfections, or if we cannot inventory our own closets, we prevent ourselves from being able to have a healthy love for ourselves.  And if we cannot develop a healthy love for our self, how can we accept the vulnerabilities in others?  If you are not willing to unveil your own insecurities, you will tend to judge others for their weaknesses. 

Ironically, the deepest relationships involve an atmosphere where people do show vulnerability, express their deepest frustrations, and even talk about their deepest and darkest secrets with trusted confidants.  To get to that depth can take years, and yet it is at that depth that we feel the most connected.  It is at that depth, 20,000 leagues under the superficiality that comprises 98% of our daily existence, that we grow the most.

When we can talk about the secrets that we otherwise would suppress, conceal, and hide, we can channel the energy we had previously been using to hide our weaknesses and pain back into our Life Force.

No matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how much power you have, how good-looking you are, how many books you have written, etc. etc., if you continue to conceal aspects of yourself that you feel guilty about, it takes a toll.  When severe, it can lead to depression and suicide.  How many times have you heard the story where a son or daughter who was disconnected from their parent finally comes to visit the parent and tells them they forgive them for the abuse they experienced, and the next day the parent passes away?

Our Life Force is vitally affected by what we conceal and suppress.

Take stock of how much guilt you have and make a plan of how you can find someone to neutralize it, and more importantly, grow in amazing ways by facing it.

 While we are in the 21st century, most of the billions of people populating our Lonely Planet still naïvely believe that to be a Hero means showing no weakness.  The truth is, real courage is not the absence of anxiety, anger, depressiveness, or whatever, it is the MASTERY of it. How can you master your internal demons if you don’t work with someone on systematically deconstructing them?   The most mature people on this planet make friends with their “stuff” by facing it head on.  Finding a true expert of The Mind can take months or even years.  There are many people in the field of behavioral health who are not well-adjusted themselves.  But isn’t True Enlightenment worth the search for the healthy Wise person?   

When we have a relationship with that kind of depth, where we can stop pretending and be completely genuine, like we were at the very beginning of life when we did not even know how to pretend, then amazing things occur:  for example, even when we are the most depressed or even suicidal, we still have a glimmer of hope.  We reach out and we share our pain with someone else.  We overcome and conquer.  We turn ourselves inside out, and we not only smell our dark sewer, but we can celebrate previously overlooked talents.

There is nothing more exhilarating than getting a 360 degree sense of your Self, and then using that panoramic view to accelerate your strengths and use them to fill in your skill gaps in a precise manner.  No wonder nearly every professional sports team has a sports psychologist on their staff.  Behavioral science is now recognized as one of the key ways to get The Edge.

People spend tens of thousands of dollars on cosmetic procedures for a makeover.  The sad reality is that if they spent that same on money on a “make under”, they would experience an exuberant joy infinitely greater than the superficial happiness they might get from a few years of mileage from the facelift. 

The world will only get more psychological because we realize we have only begun to figure out the Human Potential.  As I counsel high-level athletes, including Olympians, it is clear to me that while on the field, performance is drastically affected by off-the-field personal factors such as long-suppressed guilt, problematic memories, and negative thinking or behavior.

After mentoring over 1000 people of all walks of life over the last decade, it is clear to me that NOTHING CAN REPLACE the uniquely profound healing and hope-inducing effects of a deep relationship.  When people feel they can trust someone with their most guilt ridden or painful memories, thoughts, or feelings, they let go of the feeling that their life is hopeless.

Parents hear this:  Facebook and other social media platforms have created a more transactional existence for our children and that is, in my opinion, a key reason why suicide is sensationalized on YouTube.  Children now prefer to transact electronically rather than look each other in the eye and have deeper conversations.  Deeper relationships may to some degree become more extinct than they are now.   Suicide becomes more of an option for children who are seeking to escape the plasticity of fakeness.

You should watch this TED talk with your child.  Or watch it yourself and think about how you can convey its messages in ways your child will find palatable.

The best way for you to respond to the truly worrisome headlines reminding us that suicide strikes even those who seem to Have Everything, is to commit to engaging in deep relationships with others.  But to do that, you have to first be willing to have a deep relationship with the darkest aspects of yourself.  As one of the greatest depth psychologists who ever lived, Dr. Carl Jung, once said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”  

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Meet Doctor Brunner

Dr. Thomas (Tom) Brunner is a Tucson based psychologist and published expert who has a 20 year track record of clinical excellence, scientific research, teaching, publications, awards and podcast interviews.  He is the senior author of a psychological measure adapted into 14 languages worldwide, and has written over 250 blogs, many of them have gone viral.  He is revolutionizing the field of career guidance with his fresh and trademarked approach that is spreading like wildfire. Sign up here to be notified of soon to be published book, Find Your Real Me: Career Guidance Making You Truly Free.