"We have lost the the ability to hold space for pain and discomfort." --Brene Brown, research professor, author and nationally renowned speaker.
"Be strong," is what culture has taught me and the same words I said to my friend sitting next to his wife on her death bed, a 10-year battle with cancer that would take her life a week later. In response to my automated condolence, my friend gifted me with a Jesus response that broke my heart open, he said, "No, stay weak."
Stay weak? I'm not hard-wired for that. I've been trained to go around pain or power right through it, not to sit in it. Vunerability is weakness. As Brene says, "Weakness is something we abhor." But for me now, learning to sit in the dark and learning to uncover my own pain (a never-ending process) has been the path to transformation.
Pema Chödrön says,
"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity."
Transformation is great and all, however, can you really get things done being vulnerable? Is weakness sustainable? Can we really change culture by learning to sit in the dark and deal with our shame? Where are you going to find places to actually hold space to nurture pain? I sat down with fellow Houstonian Brene Brown, who's done the hard work to study shame vulnerability, to get her thoughts.
Watch more film films with Brene and check out her books at TWOTP.