The Power of Vulnerability
The Power of Vulnerability by Amanda Tuckerman
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” -Theodore Roosevelt (From the book ‘Daring Greatly’)
- Love. Brene Brown.
Love her. If you have never heard of this woman, I encourage you to immediately stop reading this and watch her TED Talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ (https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability) which at the time of this writing has had 31,318,214 views.
She has written numerous books, including the book ‘Daring Greatly’ which elaborates on the theme of vulnerability that you will find in the TED Talk noted above.
The blurb about her underneath the TED Talk sums up everything that she is about – ‘Brene Brown studies human connection – our ability to empathise, belong, love. ‘
I was first introduced to Brene’s work a couple of years ago and I can’t even remember how, all I know is that I bought the book and read it without fully understanding the significance of the message that it was trying to get across. Over the coming years I then found that this book and the concepts within it were popping up in my head at regular intervals.
The whole notion of vulnerability had previously been something that I really struggled with. I got better at it because I began to put some of Brene’s tips into practice however prior to doing this I viewed vulnerability as weak, powerless and NEVER something that I wanted to be. It made me feel completely raw (as it tends to do) and it was this rawness that I would run from in a second.
I thought for the longest time that it was just me – that other people were happy to be vulnerable and on one level I pitied these people for their openness due to my skewed view of vulnerability. I somehow thought that I was stronger and more in control of myself because of my superpower ability to stay inflexible to the ‘V’ word.
On another level I also looked at them with a sense of awe and wonder ‘How do they DO that????’ How do they continually open themselves up again and again for hurt, uncertainty and the potential of great pain?
What I didn’t realise was that a lot of others feel exactly the same way when it comes to being vulnerable. Furthermore, in shutting down all of these things that I perceived to be the negative aspects of vulnerability, I was also shutting down all of the things that I craved – love, intimacy, raw and authentic relationships (both plutonic and romantic).
Reading ‘Daring Greatly’ and following the work of Brene Brown has made me realise just how much strength and courage it actually takes to be vulnerable. To me, it just makes sense when you actually think about it.
As with most things (if not everything) that we struggle with, on some level, it all comes back to self worth and the opportunity for self-work. I realised one day that the only person I was hiding from was myself. I had put a huge wall up around my heart with the intention to ‘protect’ myself and eventually realised that not only had I kept the good out with the ‘bad’ (which isn’t actually so bad), I hadn’t even kept all of the bad out because it was actually true self that I was shutting myself off from.
I can’t honestly say that I made a conscious decision to go out into the world and start being vulnerable although I can say that I started noticing my behavior when it came to friendships, relationships and life in general.
I started noticing small things like my body language in certain situations – when I was tempted to shut down my shoulders would hunch and I would physically feel small. I would deliberately peel my shoulders open, lift my head and do my best to relax my face.
At other times I would notice that I would shy away from conversations if they were getting a bit personal and deep. Instead of shutting them down, I would let them happen. Sometimes I would walk away feeling like a fool who had over-shared and like a complete idiot for the occasional tear or two but you know what happened…. Nothing except deep, authentic, trusting, real and open relationships. What the?
Chances are that no one else really noticed these things as they were happening but it made a huge difference to me and the way I felt inside.
Perhaps the biggest thing that changed is that I released judgment of myself and therefore judgment of others. This allows me to be free as whoever I am but more importantly allows other to also be free around me which is essential when it comes to vulnerability.
If you are anything like I was at the beginning, the thought of all this openness and suggestion of complete authenticity may have your heart leaping into your throat and your blood pressure rising – please believe me when I say that it does get easier and becomes a complete new way of existing.
The benefits are immeasurable and there becomes an element of freedom in every aspect of life because you are no longer trapping yourself in your own world of fear and uncertainty.
Start with being vulnerable to yourself. How are you really feeling about any given situation or aspect of your life? How are you really and truly feeling about yourself? In what ways and what areas are you shutting yourself down?
It all starts with you.
Yes it may be uncomfortable, yes it may be scary, yes it may feel different and awkward but will it pay off? Absolutely!
Just get in the arena.Tags: brene brown, vulnerability