This series of videos, mostly TED Talks, traces one of the mental trajectories that I keep criss-crossing through lately while drawing a constellation of intuitive connections. For me, the underlying topic is about recognizing goodness — recognizing your own goodness and recognizing the goodness of everyone you encounter. Without that recognition, all we have is fear and shame. With that recognition, we can achieve great things in the face of today’s challenges — inequality, disconnectedness, crises of authority, isolation, etc.
It started with a conversation about vulnerability, which prompted a friend of mine to send me a link to this talk from 2010.
Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability
Then I checked out Brene Brown’s follow-up talk from two years later.
Brené Brown: Listening to shame
Brown brings up a lot about shame, self-worthiness and their connection to vulnerability. That spurred a bunch of conversations about attachment theory and the role of self worth in one’s ability to recover from, or even risk, rejection or failure. Since attachment theory is rooted in studies about parental love, this led to Andrew Solomon’s talk about unconditional love:
Andrew Solomon: Love, no matter what
From there, we can start talking about the hard stuff, like what prevents us from seeing other people’s goodness and worthiness of connection. Vernā Myers does a great job of opening the door to re-programming some of those habits.
Vernā Myers: How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them
Our comfort with Vulnerability is directly connected to the level of shame that we feel. Shame can be worded “I’m sorry I am that bad thing.” as opposed to guilt, which can be worded “I’m sorry I did that bad thing”. That means recognition of your own goodness — recognizing that you are not bad/unworthy — is the opposite of shame; to believe that you are good and worthy of connection is to be unfettered by shame. All of us stand to benefit profoundly from recognizing that goodness. Our ability (or inability) to recognize and relate with it is often tied to habits we learned from our parents, but it also comes from much broader social conditions. We all get countless signals from the world that label us as incomplete and not good enough, but (here’s the final leap) young men of color get it way worse than most. Hence, President Barack Obama’s Speech at the launch of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.
I bet you’ll hear his words differently after listening to those other talks.
If you can’t get enough, here are two related playlists of TED talks.