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May 18, 2011

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Embrace vulnerability – let ourselves be “deeply” seen! Sounds like Levinas!!

In her presentation (see video link), Dr. Brene Brown shares about her process of coming to understand the role of vulnerability and feeling worthy.  Her phenomenological research suggests that shame stems from a place of feeling unworthy, a place of always asking “Am I good enough?”  Dr. Brown asserts that feeling worthy grows from courage, compassion, connection, and embracing vulnerability.  Vulnerability she maintains is the willingness to do something with no guaranteed outcome, to take emotional risks.

Dr. Brown highlights that our adult population is the most” in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated cohort in US history.” She points out that we consistently numb ourselves as a means of covering up our vulnerabilities.  Her argument asserts that we need to do just the opposite – that we “need to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen.” By this she appears to be referring to our need to become more emotionally vulnerable.  We need to let go of who we should be in other peoples eyes and be who we truly are. We need to be honest with ourselves about our emotions and those around us.

Dr. Brown’s message of being “deeply seen” seems very much akin to Emmanuel Levinas’ philosophical stance. Emmanuel Levinas emphasizes the importance of the “face of the other” in relationship.  Levinas says “The skin of the face is that which stays most naked, most destitute.  It is the most naked, though with a decent nudity. It is the most destitute also: there is an essential poverty in the face; the proof of this is that one tries to mask this poverty by putting on poses, by taking on a countenance.” (Ethics and Infinity 85-86) Levinas suggests that the face is a portal to the true self, that it is precisely the nakedness of the face that allows two people to connect.

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