Everything you’ve heard or read up until now about vulnerability has probably been described as some negative characteristic. A while back I was enlightened to the positive side of vulnerability.
Brenè Brown is the author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. She’s amazing in her attempt to break down what vulnerability means and how we can use it to enhance our everyday life. She covers everything ranging from love and judging others, to parenting and perfection. I want to share a few of these gems with you. I pray these excerpts and quotes from Brown will resonate.
“If you’re alive, you’re vulnerable.”
“Courage is borne out of vulnerability not strength.”
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability.”
“We judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking folks who are doing worse than we’re doing. If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.”
“Raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail. If we’re always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.”
“Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens as and when you’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability), we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”
“I carry a small sheet of paper in my wallet that has written on it the names of people whose opinions of me matter. To be on that list, you have to love me for my strengths and struggles.”
“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”
If you’re alive, you’re vulnerable. You can try to act hard all you want. Understanding vulnerability is a value and it’s even more priceless to surround yourself with people you can be vulnerable with. These excerpts from Brown opened my eyes. Having confidence in yourself projects in the way we talk about other people. We have to choose how we use our vulnerability. Is it to encourage or empathize? Or is it a “launching pad out of our own deficiency”.
It’s also important to let our children experience the truths in life. We can’t save them from everything. That’s a hinderance and it keeps them from being open and vulnerable as adults. It teaches them that facades are okay and that pretending everything is okay when it’s not, is normal! That’s not normal!
We’ve been conditioned to associate vulnerability with negativity because most of the time the people who we’ve chosen to be vulnerable with are the wrong people. Not everyone deserves the value of your naked heart. If you can’t be vulnerable or open with the people you have around you, these are the wrong people in your life. Share and be intimate with people who have earned the right to hear your stories, triumphs, and fears.
Vulnerability is bravery. It’s a communication of openness and truth. It’s independence. It takes faith and confidence in yourself.
Keep pressing and be courageously vulnerable.