There is no doubt that I have been on a journey to accept vulnerability, for to understand vulnerability and cease fearing it requires maturity, wisdom and insight.
Coinciding with a lightbulb moment along this journey, I discovered the wonderful work of Brene Brown. Brene calls herself a storyteller/researcher and for the past decade she has studied the concept of vulnerability. You can read more about her work at her website, here. In 2010 Brene presented her landmark talk on the power of vulnerability at the annual TED conference and the video has since had more than nine million hits. You can find it here.
Brene’s presentation confirmed much of what I had come to understand about my own vulnerability.
I’m not sure where it came from, for my father was not particularly macho, but my firm belief up until my late thirties was that vulnerability represented weakness and was to be avoided at all costs. I suppose hand in hand with that philosophy was that if connections happened then all well and good, but essentially that was only a bi-product of getting a job done. This worked for me for about a decade and a half as I focused my energies in making it in the business world. Looking back at that time, it worked because I backed my business skills and didn’t feel any real risk in putting those skills out there. I knew I was the real deal and had the goods to prove it.
But, and this is a big but, it’s not what I was doing in my personal life. For some reason, I didn’t back myself in that sphere, spent a lot of time seeking approval and my personal connections suffered. So having woken up I went on a quest to strengthen my existing personal connections and to better understand how to make succesful connections. As Brene says in the video, humans are hard-wired for connection, it gives purpose and meaning to our lives. To show you how far I have come, I have no shame in admiting I had little clue about connections back then. Those I had were principally because the other people were great connectors and to them I am eternally grateful for deciding to invest in me and for teaching me about vulnerability.
I now know and understand that to connect you have to make yourself vulnerable. You have to go forth in the world with your authentic self without any guarantee that you will be accepted and not get hurt. Authenticity was never the issue, but rather the making of the first move. I have since come to understand that not everyone will accept you, but if they do not then firstly, it says more about them than you and secondly, these experiences teach you courage.
Type A alpha personalities have never been at the top of my list. Although probably a gross over generalisation, most alphas I have encountered are quite scared underneath. This results in some undesirable behaviours and the energy required to keep up the alpha front must be tremendous. Give me a guy or girl with a quiet strength who is not afraid to show their vulnerability or who is prepared to make themselves vulnerable by acknowledging the contribution of others and I’ll take them any day of the week over the alpha types. To me there is an attractiveness in vulnerability, probably because it comes from a place of authenticity rather than bravado. Vulnerability speaks and is an ingredient of commonality. How many times have you been in a situation where you have been introduced to someone and once you get talking they admit to some small imperfection or action that was ineffective and you immediately feel closer to that person? I have many times, for usually I think if he or she sounds too good to be true, he or she probably is.
In her video, Brene mentions the struggle with vulnerability and that most people deal with it by numbing their emotions. The problem as she points out is that you can’t selectively just numb the bad emotions, by numbing you end up muting joy, gratitude and happiness as well. And how do we numb? As Brene points out we do it by:
- trying to make the uncertain, certain – think religion and politics
- perfecting, for example our bodies, our children – our job as parents is not to give them a perfect life, but to prepare them to deal with an imperfect life
- pretending that what we do does not affect others
I have since chosen to be prepared to make the first move in forming a connection, without any guarantee of success. I’d rather chance a negetive response than become comfortable in my disconnectedness. I’d also rather chance the relationship ending than never having the opportunity to have it in the first place.
I therefore choose risk, mess and vulnerability and by doing so I choose to add grey and colour to my life over only black and white and feeling over numbness.
Today, I give myself permission to be vulnerable.
25 thoughts on “Today I Give Myself Permission to be Vulnerable #atozchallenge”
Good for you.
On the money. Awesome post.
Glad you liked it, Tess.
Wonderful post! I have seen this TED talk you mention, and I do recommend anyone to see it, it has a very powerful message. I admire your risk-taking vulnerability, stay with it! Thank you for this post!
Thanks G. I’m glad it resonated. I’m always amazed at how much penetration that TED talk has had. Ms brown clearly has in impact.
I KNEW you’d write this when you come to V. I just knew it! And I know you’ll mention Brene’s work.
You spoke for me… again. It seems so strange… and so right… that a stranger should speak for me… say the things I would have said.
It’s fulfilling to read you. Truly.
I’m glad you knwe it, because I knew it too. This letter is one of the few that I haven’t changed on the way through the Challenge. it seems we are on the same wavelength 🙂
Vulnerability is hard for everyone. Knowing we are at a disadvantage immediately makes us guard and vulnerability is gone.
Yes, that’s the instintive reaction. As you can see I have come to the conclusion that there is no shame in vulnerability and its unavoidable if you want to play it anything other than safe. Thanks for the comment.
Judy, I like the “quiet strength who is not afraid to show their vulnerability” comment. Many Type A’s who crave to be popular have to be constantly reinforced. That grows tiresome. I would much rather be around people who are comfortable in their skin and don’t have to put on airs. Well done, BTG
Quiet standing applause BTG.
I’m always drawn to the down to earth.
There’s alot to be said on this topic some people are able to be vulnerable more than others ad they still get shot down (at times)
Appreciate your thoughtful perspective
nice to meet you thru A to Z. ck us out at Lady’s Knight
Thanks, can you believe the end of the Challeng is nigh? You’re right there is a lot one can say, i guess I have made my peace with it.
Having read a number of your posts now, I can see you have been on quite the journey of self-discovery. Awesome!
That it has Jagoda. I’ve now just realised during the Challenge, because it has helped me chronical the journey.
I too am a huge fan of Brene’ Brown. I highly enjoyed her book “Daring Greatly”. There is a wealth of life lessons in that book. Its one of those reads that will leave you completely uprooted as you come to see “Shame” as the enemy of your authentic self. Great post Judy, I see we have more in common every day!
Glad to have found another connection with you, Toni. The book is definitely on my must read list.
I’ll certainly be checking out that TED presentation (although it will have to wait until after I submit in my last assignment for the trimester). Being vulnerable can be difficult but if you are lucky enough to have the right people in your life who have your back, then anything is possible.
WHAT A GREAT QUOTE (I had to use caps, sorry): “I now know and understand that to connect you have to make yourself vulnerable.”
What did you say? I didn’t hear you 🙂
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