According to Brené Brown, Ph.D., a research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work, shame is at the heart of much unhappiness. Shame that is the result of excruciating vulnerability is one of the greatest fears an individual can possess, and it’s one that most people have but naturally don’t admit to owning. It’s that sense of not feeling adequate, of not feeling that you are good enough.
One of the greatest purposes in life is to be connected.
A sense of worthiness is the glue for love and belonging.
What does a connected person have?
• Courage to risk being imperfect
• Compassion to be kind to self then others
• Connection as a result of being authentic
A connected person embraces their vulnerability. They feel that who they are is enough. They believe that what makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. They are prepared to take risks, investing in relationships without any guarantees. They say ‘I love you’ first. They realise they may not always be able to control or predict the outcome. They are happy to share their tenderness. They are aware of their personal boundaries and adjust them accordingly. They harden or soften their boundaries to suit their needs.
Humans tend to numb vulnerability so that they numb the pain, but this numbs joy too. Pain and pleasure are two sides of one emotional body. Numbing pain comes at the expense of joy. You don’t get one without the other.
If you are unhappy it is likely you are suffering from a first world virus caused by first world problems. The remedy is to be daring enough to challenge some of your first world beliefs. What do you believe about the concept of abundance as opposed to being content with having enough? Why is abundance such a good idea, when having enough rarely gets a mention?
Enough is enough, regardless of either world you live in. If you don’t have enough, then you have either too much or not enough. There is too much food, too much money, too many choices. All this is too overwhelming and stressful. Not enough food, not enough money, little or no choice. This is soul destroying at worst and distressing and stressful at best.
Enough is fair enough for everyone concerned. The concept of ‘enough’ is solid ground for building just societies in the first world and the third world. The New Age push for abundance has not improved the situation. Much of westernised society has been seduced into thinking that it’s good to strive for abundance. That may be so if you are going to share it around when you get it. Sharing your abundance would have an impact on third world situations here and there. However, the argument still points to “how much is enough?” How much do you really need before you feel you have enough, or that you are enough?
Abundance appears to be right at home in this consumer driven culture. The current concept of abundance is present in society like an incurable hang-over from the greedy 1980’s. Greed was good back then. Abundance has become a new and palatable form of greed.
First world greed has been carefully repackaged as a type of ‘New Age Spiritual Abundance Philosophy’, but abundance of any kind is not spiritual. Most religions and Buddhist philosophy will tell you that. Poverty is also not spiritual in this day and age. Poverty reduces your ability to survive and thrive. Poverty depletes your life, and thus your life force, which is your spirit. Abundance versus poverty is a useless game to play. They are two extremes of a pendulum swinging back and forth as it tries to find the middle point. That point is ‘Enough’.
‘Enough’ as a personal value and an ethical code to live by are at risk of extinction, but the concept of ‘Enough’ when applied to your daily choices and the decisions you make will foster a life that is truly balanced.
When you complain that you don’t have enough, and blame others because of it, you merely create a way to discharge energy, and in this case it is your pain and discomfort. You maintain a sense of shame. You remain vulnerable because of shame instead of vulnerable because you are embracing your tenderness. The problem gets worse and you grow bitter instead of getting better.
• Are you unhappy?
• Does your confidence need a boost?
• Do you need to feel more connected with others?
• Are you looking for your purpose?
• Do you suffer from a lack of worthiness?
• Do you need to feel that you belong?
• Are your efforts often ignored or minimised?
• Do you need more meaning in your life?
• Are you bored with life and need a challenge?
• Do you need more passion, energy and motivation in your life?
• Are you looking for fulfilment, a sense of freedom and peace?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then your suffering is due to one or many first world problems. Fortunately, there is a single solution to all of them. In fact, unless you suffer from an incapacitating physical, emotional or mental illness, then there is a single antidote to this self-centred malaise. There are no excuses, just one answer. To channel that energy into something worthwhile and productive by sharing your abundance of first world time, energy, space or money with the third world. When you embrace your vulnerabilities, then you are able to truly embrace the vulnerabilities of others. Shame is then healed. Let yourself care, to be tender and love wholeheartedly while being aware of your personal boundaries and the knowledge that there are never any real guarantees. You are enough. You are worthy of being useful. A sense of connection and belonging is the result.
Give away your time, energy, space or money. Volunteer in the third world. If you can’t afford to travel overseas to third world countries, then you won’t have to go far to find the New Third World. It’s inside your first world. The New Third World can be found in almost every corner of every westernised country. There you will find an abundance of homeless, orphaned, unemployed, hungry, drug, gambling and alcohol affected people just waiting for your help. Here’s what happens to you when you help others or a cause other than yourself.
• You gain more confidence.
• You find your purpose.
• You feel worthwhile.
• You feel like you belong.
• Your efforts will be appreciated.
• Your life will have greater meaning.
• You are not bored but instead you are challenged.
• You have more passion, energy and motivation for life.
• You find fulfilment, so you will free to be at peace with yourself.
• You are much happier.
You can have this abundance now. If you want to improve the way you feel, you know what to do. If you are complaining, making excuses and blaming other people, places and things for why things are not going your way, then stop it. They are things you do to distract yourself from feeling worse because you don’t have enough meaning and purpose in your life. Complaining and blaming are ways to numb vulnerability. This opposes every human’s deepest desire and longing to connect with one another.
Unless you are physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually unwell, then there is a good chance that you have an excess of time, energy, space or money available to use. You will have at least one of those elements in abundance. You are more fortunate when you live in the first world and suffer from first world problems. At this point in the history of humanity, first world westernised people are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated they have ever been. The reverse is true for those living in the third world. Deeper troubles arise when you live in either the first world or the third world and you suffer from third world problems. Worse still, that you live in the first world and that you think in a third world way about yourself and what you can give. You have third world beliefs about yourself. You believe that you are not enough or do not have enough to offer the third world.