Vulnerability is not your enemy. This statement is certainly antithetical to what most people believe. Most of us believe that we must avoid being vulnerable to make it safely through life. Emotion is also not your enemy. Since we cannot be vulnerable without feeling emotion, this statement is also in opposition to what most people believe. I believe that the mindset of being in opposition to vulnerability is actually what hinders us from being who we really are and thus prevents us from achieving the goals and dreams we have for our life.
What does it mean to be vulnerable? Dictionary.com defines it as:
"Being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally."
You may ask, how on earth can that ever be a source of power. Stay with me and let's discover together.
In this article I'm referring to the fear of being emotionally attacked or harmed aspect of being vulnerable. At its core, vulnerability is about being open to express emotion and being willing to engage in moments that may be emotionally heightened for you. And I caution you to be careful that you don't automatically assume an emotionally heightened situation as being a negative one. Expressing feelings like happiness, joy and love are also states of being that many people avoid because they fear being vulnerable.
When we encounter moments that are riddled with vulnerability we usually feel that there's risk involved and our first inclination is flight or fight. We respond with a desire to defend ourselves or to completely avoid the perceived risk. However, I'm suggesting that instead of avoiding the risk we should wholeheartedly embrace the moment and forge ahead in pursuit of expressing our emotional truth.
Research expert Brene Brown has spent the past twelve years doing research on vulnerability and she states, "Vulnerability is not weakness. It's probably the most accurate measure of our individual courage." This finding is in agreement with my own experience because I have witnessed the evidence of acts of vulnerability leading to courage, deeper connection and expanded opportunity within myself and my clients many times over. In my business and life coaching practice I find that helping people embrace vulnerability is the foundation for any of the work that must be done. Understanding and embracing vulnerability as a source of power is the most important work because it gives my clients the most realistic chance of being able to achieve whatever they desire.
Being vulnerable is often thought of as being weak and foolish. To be guarded and protective of one's feelings is celebrated as a wise social posture. But let's try something new, maybe even revolutionary. Imagine this, when we're vulnerable we're available to participate in the natural reciprocal process of give and receive. Vulnerability is about expressing from the truth of the soul and emotional vulnerability requires faith. When we deny this process, we reside in fear. Vulnerability is about showing up in everything you do with courage as your lead and having a willingness to be seen and heard. No shape shifting, no conforming, just sharing you, your thoughts and your feelings.
When we fear vulnerability and are afraid of what others may think and say, it is largely because we have already judged ourselves. We've already invited shame to obliterate our sense of worthiness and since we've done this, we expect no less from others.
Recently I was leading a workshop and I was talking about how to show up in your life and I said "If I want to play a role, I'll get on stage." This got quite a positive response from the attendees. Many of us are afraid to be transparent, to be ourselves and to not assimilate to the expectations of others. We're afraid to ask for what we want. We're afraid of expressing and sharing our emotions for fear of being rejected and hurt. At my core I believe and know that who I am is good and worthy of being accepted by others, essentially because I accept myself, flaws and all. Self acceptance and self love are not separate, one begets the other.
Self Acceptance is a pre-requisite to being able to use vulnerability as a source of power.
When you own and embrace the truth of your past and present, you reclaim your power. No one has the power to hurt you if you aren't clinging to shame, secretes, lies, self-judgment, self-betrayal and pretending you're someone that you're not. When you stop holding back and you're willing to move through the phases of expressing and experiencing emotion in a healthy way you are now using vulnerability as a rich source of power.
When you use vulnerability as a source of power for more truth, honest relationships and a connection of shared humanity, you open yourself up to the delicious opportunity to relate and to give and receive with others. When you become the example it can be an incredibly liberating experience for everyone in your presence. I invite you to give it a try.
Remember, life is precious. Do your happy dance. Enjoy Life!