Full text of researcher Brené Brown on Listening to Shame at TED Talk conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Brené Brown on Listening to Shame at TED Talk
I’m going to tell you a little bit about my TEDxHouston Talk. I woke up the morning after I gave that talk with the worst vulnerability hangover of my life. And I actually didn’t leave my house for about three days.
The first time I left was to meet a friend for lunch. And when I walked in, she was already at the table. I sat down, and she said, “God, you look like hell.”
I said, “Thanks. I feel really — I’m not functioning.”
And she said, “What’s going on?”
And I said, “I just told 500 people that I became a researcher to avoid vulnerability. And that when being vulnerable emerged from my data, as absolutely essential to whole-hearted living, I told these 500 people that I had a breakdown. I had a slide that said ‘Breakdown.’ At what point did I think that was a good idea?”
And she said, “I saw your talk live-streamed. It was not really you. It was a little different than what you usually do. But it was great.”
And I said, “This can’t happen. YouTube, they’re putting this thing on YouTube. And we’re going to be talking about 600, 700 people.”
And she said, “Well, I think it’s too late.”
And I said, “Let me ask you something.”
And she said, “Yeah.”
I said, “Do you remember when we were in college, really wild and kind of dumb?”
She said, “Yeah.”
I said, “Remember when we’d leave a really bad message on our ex-boyfriend’s answering machine? Then we’d have to break into his dorm room and then erase the tape?”
And she goes, “Uh… no.”
Of course, the only thing I could say at that point was, “Yeah, me neither. Yeah — me neither.”
And I’m thinking to myself, “Brené, what are you doing? Why did you bring this up? Have you lost your mind? Your sisters would be perfect for this.”
So I looked back up and she said, “Are you really going to try to break in and steal the video before they put it on YouTube?”
And I said, “I’m just thinking about it a little bit.”
She said, “You’re like the worst vulnerability role model ever.”
And then I looked at her and I said something that at the time felt a little dramatic, but ended up being more prophetic than dramatic. I said, “If 500 turns into 1,000 or 2,000, my life is over.”
I had no contingency plan for four million.
And my life did end when that happened. And maybe the hardest part about my life ending is that I learned something hard about myself, and that was that, as much as I would be frustrated about not being able to get my work out to the world, there was a part of me that was working very hard to engineer staying small, staying right under the radar.