Brene Brown, in a TED talk on vulnerability six years ago, points out some of my own struggles that over the years I never fully came to grasp with. Two recent personal experiences however have drawn my attention to the power in vulnerability and the courage to confront shame.
I have been blessed with wonderful friends and incredible meaningful connections. These fill the all-human need to know that we fully belong and we are loved. It’s a wonderful blessing to be in a caring community.
Recently two wonderful friends asked if I needed help in a situation that I needed to deal with. The question spun me into a panic. “Why are they asking if I need help?” I thought. “Shouldn’t I be the one to help?”
This is a classic example of vulnerability and shame. I shared in my book, Paths as yet Untrodden my societal privilege of education in the final years of British rule and the early years of post-independence Tanzania. Like many of my generation we came out of school invested with privilege and opportunity.
Because of that there is a sense of shame and failure to find oneself needing help. It takes courage to be vulnerable and as Bene Brown points out vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.
Recently I posted a blog about the paralysis of depression I succumbed to after the death of my sister. Much of that depression was rooted in shame.
I know I am not alone in this emotional trepidation. But vulnerability is not weakness and we can overcome depression if we courageously confront shame (something we avoid to talk about).