In recent times, I have been pondering vulnerability and the cycle of its existence in my life.
As a personal development and wellbeing coach I ask my clients to open up completely, to drop any façade and just come in raw and deep. Now this doesn’t often happen by itself and it takes a conversation to develop the trust and safe space for this to happen, and ultimately in these conversations over time, I too am vulnerable honest and open. But outside of this cocoon what happens?
I believe, vulnerability is having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. I believe vulnerability is not weakness but our greatest measure of courage!
In the last few years I have been writing, speaking to groups and large audiences on the stage, recorded videos to be shared on social media (the scariest kind of vulnerability!!) and had interviews on radio and magazines – all in a state of being vulnerable because when you speak about your passions you are naturally open and vulnerable. Vulnerable to the pain of the pooh poohers, the egos of others who believe they know more, the ill-informed and those that just like being a little mean and negative.
However, this is also balanced by the encouragers, the hopeful, the proactive, the like-minded and the eager to learn and they are the ones that shine through so much more. They radiate good vibes and encourage me to keep going.
What do you associate with the term vulnerability? Is it weakness, fear, hurt or betrayal or beauty, rawness, deep love, power?
As Marianne Williamson wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”
So now I ask you, have you said “I love you” often enough? Have you told your friends and family how grateful you are for their support? Have you listened closely enough? Have you looked strangers in the eye often enough? Have you looked up and reached out enough? Have you let yourself love and be loved to its fullest potential? Have you let your heart crack open to the possibility of something amazing? And have you really been the authentic you, dropped any façade, admitted flaws, fear or the inability to cope at work or in your personal life when these occasions have come up?
“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” — Brené Brown
I would say the answer is “No, not nearly enough”! I wonder if we aren’t secretly afraid of what might happen if we actually let ourselves connect on a deeper level by holding ourselves vulnerable to the potential goodness. Do we protect our vulnerabilities because we are ashamed of our weaknesses and struggles? Is it purely about our ego and that it likes to protect its image and vulnerability is a crack in its armour?
Like most things, I don’t think that it is an easy topic to dissect and find the right answers as there are many shades of vulnerability. With vulnerability comes the risk of pain, embarrassment, disappointment, and heartbreak. But what if our aversion to vulnerability is because we fear intense and consuming love, or deep and abiding respect, or unconditional acceptance?
What I do know is that we are all a little broken, bruised and scarred. I also know that the smallest act of letting down your guard is a commitment to your personal growth. From experience I know for sure is that there is amazing powerful connection that lies in our shared imperfection and maybe that’s what scares us most of all.
When you understand why vulnerability is so important, you’ll be more motivated to embrace it.