Today let’s talk about something that most of us don’t want to talk about.
The V word.
You know the one. The one that is misunderstood and often people find embarrassing to admit they have. Do you know what I’m talking about?
The Big V!
VULNERABLE or VULNERABILITY.
Unless you are an alien, I’m sure you’ve heard about Brené Brown and her famous 2014 Ted Talk about vulnerability. It felt like this was the first anyone had ever openly talked about vulnerability, let alone researched it.
I’m not sure I ever asked anyone to tell me what it meant to be vulnerable. It’s just one of those words or ideas that I created meaning based on conversations I’d heard or participated in. I made it mean that being vulnerable was a bad thing. (Why is it that V words seem to be the things you don’t talk about? Vulnerable, vagina, venereal…?)
I grew up believing being vulnerable meant you were weak, you depended on others, and you should be ashamed. My belief became:
Vulnerability=Weakness and shame
As a result, many times when I may have benefited from the support of others, I kept my thoughts, emotions, and confusion to myself and tried to deal with it the best I knew how.
The façade of being strong, independent, and not needing anyone else affected me in more ways than I realized at the time. I became closed off, tried to do things by myself to no avail, and began to suffer from health issues.
So, let’s talk about what being vulnerable or showing vulnerability really is.
Brené Brown describes vulnerability as the core of all emotions. “To feel is to be vulnerable.” Being vulnerable allows us to connect with others on a deeper level. It allows us to open up to love, joy, creativity, and empathy. As we look at vulnerability, we can see that it is the opposite of weakness. As Brown says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.”
Vulnerability allows us to show up in a bigger way. We take risks, fail, open our hearts, acknowledge our needs. We share with others, so they know they aren’t alone and there is help. That is courage. We talk about how we feel, even when it is scary. We accept that it may be painful.
And by doing this, we open ourselves to joy, connection, and closeness. We are courageous.
Brown closes her talk with these words: “Here’s the thing. I’m not gonna bullshit you. Vulnerability is hard, and it is scary, and it feels dangerous. But it’s not as hard, scary, or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves, ‘What if I would have shown up?’ What if I would have said I love you?’”
Where are you regarding being vulnerable? Is the fear holding you back from some very important things? What conversation do you want to have with yourself at the end of your life?