The gift of vulnerability…

Out on a limbWhat does it mean to be vulnerable?  When you hear the word, does it stir up negative connotations: don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, don’t make yourself too vulnerable, don’t put yourself out there…you could get hurt.   Many of us see this “dark side” and equate being vulnerable with being weak.  Is it any wonder, since the definitions we’ve been given are: “Exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally” and “Susceptible to physical or emotional injury; Susceptible to attack…; Open to censure or criticism; assailable.” 

But what about the flip side: that by being vulnerable, we become open and receptive to the good things too?  When we put ourselves out there, reach for something that our heart desires (with no safety net and no guarantees), vulnerability, as Brené Brown says, becomes “…the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

If you haven’t already watched ‘s TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability”, please take the time to watch it now.  Yes, it is 20 minutes long, but well worth every second.

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What would it be like, if we did allow ourselves to be vulnerable?  Lived our lives by the true definition of courage: “Tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”.  What if we embraced our imperfections, let go of who we thought we should be in order to be who we are?  What if we no longer tried to “predict or control” or put up a wall under the illusion that we need to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable?  What if, instead, we allowed ourselves to feel scared, feel vulnerable, feel it all…and then move on?  Stepped out from behind the wall to be ourselves: trust, take risks, take steps, experiment, explore.  Wouldn’t the exhilaration of becoming all of who we are meant to be, be worth it?  What if we could flip a switch and begin to see vulnerability differently?  To see the jittery, panicky sensation as simply a signpost: alerting us to an opportunity to grow, to learn, to receive a lesson, an experience, possibly even a gift?  What if we learned that when we allow ourselves to embrace and experience all aspects of ourselves, our lives, our feelings – even the uncomfortable — we become open to so much more?

As Brené Brown so eloquently says:

But there is another way, and I will leave you with this.  This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there is no guarantee…; to practice gratitude and joy.  In those moments of terror — when we are wondering can I love you this much, can I believe in this as passionately, can I be this fierce about this — just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say: I am just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I am alive.  And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we are enough.  Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says “I’m enough”, then we stop screaming and start listening.  We are kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we are kinder and gentler to ourselves.

What would it be like?  Why don’t we find out…


2 Responses to “The gift of vulnerability…”

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  1. Sal says:

    Hello my long time friend! I am truly enjoying your site and as far as “going out on a limb”, well I did and it was VERY much worth the risk… you know what I am talking about! Keep inspiring, keep reaching and embrace life with intensity – love it!

  2. Kim says:

    Thanks for the post, Diane. I really enjoyed the TED talk. Brene is an engaging presenter and I appreciated her sense of humour. Vulnerability, in my opinion, is a tough one to tackle in today’s society. There seems to be a big focus on looking good, being smart, living an ideal life (or pretending to).

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