“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness.” – Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social work, creator of The Daring Way™ shame resilience programming (born 1965)
Being vulnerable can be scary. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when we think about being healthy, living in wellness, or being in a state of well-being. Vulnerability, however, is often mentioned when it comes to being open to love and, in fact, to being able to flourish and thrive in a romantic relationship.
Actually, there’s more to it than that. We need to be open to being vulnerable in order to experience the most out of life, period. Granted, there is a risk to this, but isn’t there risk attached or potentially there with almost any activity or endeavor that is worthwhile? After all, there’s no certain outcome, so that means what ultimately happens isn’t automatic. It’s what we do that matters, how we recover or learn from any setbacks, incorporate new skills into our toolset, and maximize everything to our benefit.
Still, vulnerability gets a bad rap. It’s easy to see why. Women, especially, are loathe to see themselves as vulnerable, identifying with a bad romantic breakup perhaps, or loss of something or someone dear. Yet it is through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable that we can grow, learn to love or love deeper, and find the meaning of life.
Remember that life consists of positive and negative experiences. We can choose how to regard everything that we do with the lens of positivity and hope or negativity and hopelessness (or at least status quo). If we are to experience the richness of life, surely that means that we’re willing to let another person into our confidence, to the extent that we feel comfortable, knowing that there is a bit of a risk here. If we are unwilling to be open with another, how much depth can that relationship ever have? Isn’t it worth being a little bit vulnerable to open up the potential that may be there?
Let’s look at experiences as another example of being vulnerable in order to realize the benefit of doing so. Suppose we want to go hang-gliding but are fearful of failure, of breaking a limb or chickening out at the last minute and mortifying ourselves. We may be able to overcome some of that fear by becoming more educated about all aspects of hang-gliding – or meeting new people, embarking on a new educational pursuit, hobby, going after a promotion, challenging ourselves in some difficult area in order to grow.
Beyond educating ourselves, another way to get more comfortable with vulnerability is to take it in small steps. Instead of making a grand leap, try being vulnerable in something that doesn’t seem as threatening, scary or potentially life-changing. Talk with someone new at a favorite coffee shop. Extend an offer of help to a neighbor and get to know that person better. Look outside instead of inside to see how we can make the world a little better place – without any expectation of something in return.
While these examples of being vulnerable may not immediately bring about comfort, they are a first step. After all, it takes time to find a comfort zone in almost anything new. This is no different. The rewards are there for us to realize, if we but have the courage to venture forth.