Dr. Brene’ Brown defines vulnerability in this video as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. She is my favorite author on vulnerability and has done an unimaginable amount of research, writing and teaching on the subject. This definition resonates with me on such a deep level and explains some of the angst that I was recently experiencing.
By any measure, including my own, life is good and exciting things are happening, but there was something going on internally that was overshadowing that reality. I wrote about one aspect of this feeling in The Chaos of New Beginnings, but beyond chaos, I was struggling with vulnerability.
Between this blog, my podcast and the recent launch of my business, I am sharing more of myself than ever. It is all by choice and what I believe to be the right thing for me to do in this moment. However, it sometimes brings heavy feelings of discomfort. I do not believe that I am unique in these feelings, so I share them with you in hopes of us all finding the courage to keep going despite them and to work through them.
Why Do I Struggle with Vulnerability?
I believe that vulnerability is underpinned by fear. Fear can show up as fear of:
- rejection – if I share this will “they” like it?
- failure – can I really do it?
- responsibility – can I handle what success will require?
- disappointment – will “they” think less of me?
With each of these, there is an internal dialogue that begins with “what if? When we find ourselves asking what if, we are trying to predict the future and are not living in the present. The present is the only place where life happens. The past is a memory of what was, and the future is a prediction of what might be. Focus on now and what it is that you desire in that moment. Having a now focus will save us so much wasted energy and place us right where we are supposed to be in the present experiencing what is actually happening.
Learning How to be Vulnerable
Be anchored in reality. There is, but one reality, the here and now. The past has passed, and the future is fantasy. The past should be a place of learning and the future of hope. If we are not berating ourselves about how we wish things had gone in the past, we can gleam some powerful gifts from it. The past holds the evidence of our ability to overcome. Every obstacle, hardship and misstep, has led us to this very moment.
The past also teaches. There is something to be learned from each experience. No experience is wasted if we have gathered the lessons from it and used them to make us stronger, more informed, and more prepared moving forward. The past should build your confidence because you have overcome everything that was experienced there. There is no reason to believe that you will not continue to overcome.
Your other anchor is your why. Being strongly rooted in your why, will keep you moving forward when everything in you wants to stop. Your why will push you beyond fear, insecurity, and self-doubt. Choose a why that is stronger than your fear.
The Power of Vulnerability
The other side of our fear has much to offer:
- improved self-confidence – If you didn’t know, now you know that you can do it!
- more evidence of our strength – strength is built from struggle
- progress towards the goal – you’re no longer where you were, that’s progress!
- new coping skills and strategies- you’ve gained more “how to” knowledge
- expertise – teach someone else so that they can circumvent the obstacles that you overcame
Vulnerability is risky. It can feel like walking around without your skin, fully exposed with no protection. However, real connection and relationship is born out of vulnerability. If you are not willing to be vulnerable, you are not willing to let yourself be really seen. Whatever you are hiding behind stands between you and who you would like to connect with.
Vulnerability is not easy, but it is important. It is a bravery at its finest. I would love to hear about your experience with vulnerability. Please leave a comment and share your experiences and/or hesitation with being vulnerable.