What is the Big Deal About Vulnerability?
You are hearing about it more: being vulnerable is a good thing. Show your true self, be real, be authentic. Okay, I hear it. But what is the big deal?? At one of our monthly staff meetings, I opened up and was really vulnerable. Afterward my stomach hurt and I felt like I was going to throw up. Why did I do that?! Why did I spill the personal beans like I did?! Honestly, in the moment I felt like sandpaper was rubbing together but at the same time, I was ME. Wholeheartedly ME. I did it! So what’s the big deal? Why is it important to be vulnerable? Because it changes lives. Including mine. Including yours.
After I was vulnerable at our meeting, I got a text from one of the therapists in attendance. Here is what the text said:
Hi Heidi! I just wanted to say that I really appreciated you being authentic and vulnerable at the meeting today. What you said really resonated and made it feel safer for all of us to be where we are and be our authentic, true selves, imperfections and all.
Wow. This person was being vulnerable by sending me this text. What was written is exactly why I was vulnerable. I want people to feel safe to be where they are, be their true authentic selves, imperfections and all, while still doing amazing work. So me stepping out was modeling how it can actually be done. You can’t just talk about it.
Brené Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Yikes! That doesn’t sound like something I want to jump into. Here’s the kicker: according to Brené Brown, vulnerability is also:
- The cornerstone of courage-building
- The birthplace of love, joy, and connection
- The birthplace of innovation and creativity
- To feel. Like it or not, we are emotional beings
Try to think about the last time you were courageous. Now, when you think about that time, where was vulnerability in that? Pretty surprising, huh? Vulnerability is right there smack in the middle of courage!! With that, you may also have love, joy, and connection with others. Innovation and creativity is a part of vulnerability because you are doing or creating something new, something that has never been before – that is vulnerable. We are not robots, we are feeling beings – it’s science.
So how do we do this? How can we actually be vulnerable? This topic is a big one and I would encourage you to do more reading than this blog, but here is a little snapshot to get you going:
- Lead with your heart. Understand the heart and passion behind why you are being vulnerable. When I spoke up at our staff meeting, my heart led the way and was what allowed me to be vulnerable and speak up. I wanted all of our therapists to feel like they could be their authentic selves, imperfections and all. I care about all of them. What is your heart leading you to, to be courageous?
- Learn to embrace vulnerability without vulnerability taking over you. It’s like a wave in the ocean. When you begin to step out, we hear lies in our head, our stomach turns, our heart races or whatever scary manifestation of vulnerability shows up. It feels big. Just notice those sensations mindfully, almost like you’re watching it on a movie. Be curious. Don’t engage with them or intensify them, just notice with curiosity. Those sensations will pass, they do not stay strong forever. Just like a wave in the ocean, it will go into shore.
- Practice. The more you step out, the more comfortable you are being yourself. Honestly, we are pretty used to being who others want us to be. So when we walk wholeheartedly it’s pretty tough at first. The more you practice being vulnerable and being yourself, the easier it is.
- Be proud of yourself. After you step out in courage, be proud of yourself and move on. We can tend to swim around the made-up things in our head, especially if our body is still feeling uncomfortable. Don’t bask in the “what-ifs” and the people who made odd faces or comments. DO NOT focus on them. Go back to your heart, why you stepped out in the first place. Focus on that.
- Trust in the process. There’s a reason why vulnerability is becoming popular. There is research behind it. Trust the growth that occurs when we step out beyond what we have done before. Yes, it is scary in the moment. It’s the only way to truly allow ourselves to become who we were meant to be, connect more with those we love, and live in true joy.
Being vulnerable is a really big deal. It’s the key to unlocking who you truly are and living free. The journey to living vulnerable does not happen overnight. You want to find people you trust to talk to – either friends, family, a counselor, a mentor or someone else. If you are around those who do not feel safe to be vulnerable with, find someone who is. “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure” -Bob Marley. If you are a leader, a parent or work with others, your vulnerability can show others how they can be their selves. It’s contagious to be around because it’s courage. Step out and be courageous. Be vulnerable. Be YOU.
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful” -Brene Brown.