Many of us try to avoid being hurt emotionally or physically. Avoiding saying “I love you” first, because of the fear that we’ll be rejected and hurt. Not voicing creative ideas in business meetings because of the fear of being ridiculed by your colleagues. Not inviting the cool kids to the party, because of the fear you’re not cool enough for them to care about coming. Telling your friends you have it all sorted and know what you’re doing next with your life, when in fact you’re a bit lost and looking for new directions. Getting all defensive and closed off when your spouse challenges you, because you don’t want to be perceived as weak and imperfect. Shunning taking charge and being responsible, because of the fear you might fail.

The ways we shut ourselves off from vulnerability are countless.

I’ve just re-watched my favorite Ted Talk where Brené Brown reveals the results of a decade of research on vulnerability. She tells us that accepting vulnerability is the key to feeling worthy of connection with other people. We need to let down our barriers and tell our true story with our whole hearts if we want to be loved and deeply connected with others. When we embrace the risk of being rejected, ridiculed, heart-broken or hurt, we practice our courage. We will push forward despite our fears being hurt and act with kindness for ourselves first, then kindness for others. We will act with authenticity in order to be who we really are and let go of who we want to be. Brené tells us that when we fully embrace vulnerability with courage, compassion and authenticity, we plant the seeds for deep connections with our fellow human beings and ourselves.

She goes on; relating the acceptance of vulnerability to a whole range of desirable emotional states such as joy, empathy, gratitude and love. On the other hand, if we numb vulnerability, we numb our capacity for creativity, joy, empathy, gratitude and love.

I don’t know about you, but I was not exactly brought up to be vulnerable and certainly had some vulnerability-shunning behavior ingrained in me. If you catch yourself trying to be perfect and invulnerable occasionally, how about we both try a little experiment. Over the next week or so, let’s be aware of situations when we’re facing emotional risk, personal exposure and uncertainties. Then embrace these situations as opportunities to be vulnerable and practice courage, compassion and authenticity. Let’s see what happens … maybe we’ll indeed experience more joy and deeper connection with our fellow humans, if we just …

Be Vulnerable