I’ve never been one to open the door to vulnerability. Being vulnerable has always been somewhat of a weakling anathema to me. Being leather and controlling on the surface was the only thing that really mattered. How people perceived me, as some stealthy badass I suppose, was all that mattered. It’ shakes me to the core to witness how opening up and speaking and living my truth has not only strengthened and emboldened me somehow but also reduced the torrent of anxiety I had placed myself under for far too long. Weird.
Gone are the days when I’m afraid to admit I don’t have all the answers. Gone are the days of not caving into “mom guilt” or that last ice cream sundae cone in the freezer. After reading, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, subsequently watching her TedTalk on vulnerability, and currently trudging through the murkiness of a breast cancer diagnoses, I can honestly say I see the light. I’m the most vulnerable I’ve ever been after half a century on this orb. Because of all of this, instead of resisting the urge to be seen as weak, I’ve become a person who can embrace, identify, and learn from my vulnerabilities...and there are a few!
So what makes us vulnerable? Brown suggests that our shame and fear of “I’m not _______ enough” denies us the opportunity to embrace vulnerability. The one thing that keeps us from a sense of worthiness is our fear of disconnectedness. Once we get a mindset of doubt and lack, we’ve doomed ourselves to the reality our minds create. The good news is we have the power to rewrite our realities and shift our mindsets. Identify those Negative Nelly thoughts, ask ourselves, "Is this true?" "What makes this true?" And, once we learn that our fears are completely baseless, we can rewrite the fear statements into a positive affirmations.
Point blank, having the courage to be imperfect, having the compassion to be kind to ourselves first and then to others, and having connection as a result of authenticity allows us to be willing to let go of the antiquated beliefs of what we thought we were supposed to be and fully embrace vulnerability. It’s not necessarily uncomfortable, but it’s just necessary.
Becoming willing to say “I love you” first, investing in a relationship that may or may not work out, tiptoe-ing out on the limb to see how far it bends before it breaks happens when we embrace our “vulnerable” self. What I’ve learned through life’s many adventures is that while vulnerability is at the core of our shame and fear and unworthiness, it is also the birthplace of love, creativity, joy, and belonging.
How do we mesh these counter intuitive beliefs? This has been quite a slugfest for me, but I have come to understand what it means to truly live life wholeheartedly. Warts and all. What I’ve learned is that we can’t selectively numb our feelings. When we numb down all the scary emotions of fear, shame, and unworthiness, we also slam the door on golden opportunities for joy, happiness, and gratitude. Then? We become miserable, seeking purpose and meaning, thus plunging headfirst into some crazy cyclone of emotions, and the struggle continues.
The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are. We desperately assign certainty to the uncertain. We want to live vicariously through our kids, free from all of our imperfections. I'll reiterate: This is the most vulnerable I've ever been in my life. Luckily, I'm seasoned with super secret imperfection spices and wired for struggle, but make no mistake - we’re all fine. Just the way we are.
Love with your whole heart.
Practice gratitude and joy.
Tell yourself endless, “I am enough.”
Let yourself be seen.
There’s not a better model.
You've got this.