“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.” This is how the book opens.
This is itself is a great synopsis of what Daring Greatly is all about. Practicing vulnerability is not weakness and emotional exposure will happen no matter what. Moments of shame do happen. Our choices are to A) Hide B) Numb C) Be mad D) Practice vulnerability.
When we choose option D, however, we also choose authenticity and allow ourselves to be seen. You know what happens when we don’t choose D? We live in fear of not being enough, scarcity, comparison, and inner gremlins that never seem to shut up. Worse of all, we think we’re alone.
Let’s debunk some Vulnerability Myths -
- ‘Vulnerability is weakness’ - It actually takes brave acts of courage to be vulnerable because it requires being seen when you really don’t want to be. On page 36 Brene lists what her research uncovered as vulnerability and these things are far from weakness. Things like asking for forgiveness, having faith, the first day after divorce, falling in love, admitting you’re afraid, and many more. When do you feel most vulnerable? What does this say about your strength?
- ‘I just don’t do vulnerability’ - Whether you think you do vulnerability or not, it does you. Pretending you don’t engage with vulnerability means you engage activities or habits to avoid vulnerability. This is how numbing happens. Those things that take the edge off like a glass of wine every night, the bakery run on the way home from work, a full Sunday of The Housewives marathon. Practice vulnerability or practice trying to avoid pain. What do you do to push feeling vulnerability away? How can you better embrace vulnerable moments?
- ‘Vulnerability is letting it all hang out’ - Practicing vulnerability does not require ‘over sharing’, in fact it is quite the opposite. When you practice vulnerability do so with someone you totally trust to sit with you in your worst moments and celebrate your best.
- ‘I can go it alone’ - If you plan to go it alone you may also want to plan for being lonely. As a society we tend to glorify independence as bravery but really going it alone is lonely. Vulnerability requires support and visibility. Both things we can’t do alone.
So why all this hype about vulnerability? Because practicing it is a direct combative of shame and guilt. Shame can not survive being talked about or shared. It feeds on secrecy and being hidden inside. Shame is feeling bad about who you are, guilt is feeling bad about something you did. Shame creeps in and sticks to everything.
Sometimes we define ourselves by our shame stories like not feeling thin enough, smart enough, rich enough, good enough, etc. And when things happen that feed this, like eating more cake than we wanted to, not getting our dream job, or putting more purchases on credit cards the guilt adds to our shame story. In these moments the best and scariest thing to do is have awareness, reach out to your support, and say, “I am in a shame spiral…” <— that is being vulnerable.
In a nutshell this is a wonderful read that will resonate with you. Based on over a decade of research, the concepts are founded in experience and will give you great insight into why you feel the way you do sometimes and how to move through it. I also recommend her book, “The Gifts Imperfection – 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living".
What did you think of this book? Did you view of vulnerability change? Leave me a comment below and share your thoughts! -Andrea
P.S. Don't miss November's book, "Not That Kind of Girl" by Lena Dunham.