The Value of Vulnerability

fear, emotion, anxiety-2083651.jpg

When’s the last time you’ve been scared. Like truly afraid. A colleague of mine’s daughter was just diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, at 22 years old; is that fear? I heard a story today at church about a police deputy pulling his gun and shooting; is that fear? Adjusting to a fixed income that comes once a month instead of weekly, then needing to put tires on the car, fix a broken furnace, and repair a snowblower within the same month; is that fear? What does fear look like for you? Is it sharing a diagnosis of PMDD? Or maybe anxiety or depression? Is it failing at something you’ve been working toward?
I’ve got many, but one of my greatest fears is showing weakness, of being truly vulnerable.

I stated in my first ever blog post, I want to always be authentic, real, and vulnerable in my blogs. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt more weak and out of control in all my life as I have these few weeks. There are so many reasons to allow fear to take control and allow it to steal our happiness, our sense of self, and our ability to connect to others. I allowed fear of seeming weak to control me and I lost myself these past few weeks because I am afraid to be truly vulnerable to those around me. I felt like a fake, a fraud, and like I was trying to convince myself and all those around me that I was put together, perfect, and in control when all I wanted to do was cry, allow myself the meltdown I was convinced I deserved. Boy was I wrong! I wasn’t allowing myself to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is allowing yourself to be exposed to the possibility of harm; physical or emotional. Vulnerability is a choice. Vulnerability is necessary to feel connection. Vulnerability starts with honesty. Vulnerability is courageous. Vulnerability is having compassion for yourself and others.Vulnerability isn’t weakness. Vulnerability isn’t shameful. Vulnerability shouldn’t be used as a weapon against us. (And if it is, you need new friends.) Vulnerability isn’t about spilling all your secrets. Vulnerability isn’t individual or exclusive.

According to author and self proclaimed “researcher-story teller” Brené Brown, we need to “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.” Watch her brilliant Ted Talk titled “The Power of Vulnerability” HERE. In her talk she discusses how vulnerability is at the core of what makes us feel shameful, fearful, and lack worthiness. Picture this. You’re grabbing a coffee, a beer, or a glass of wine with a friend, coworker, or your spouse. And they ask, “So, how are you?” How many of us freeze and say “Fine.”? Or maybe you divert and warmly say, “Oh, things are good. How about you?” to quickly change the subject back to them? Maybe you’re the one who tries to make everything seem perfect by telling how advanced your children are in school, how your husband does the dishes, and how much you’re loving your new car? (ummm…wait…that’s me….!)

Or are you brave enough to pause, assess how you are truly feeling at this moment and speak from the heart about what you are facing without the fear of judgement or shame because how the other person responds is a reflection of who they are, what they are going through, and has very little to do with you. Your expectations for the conversation are set. You are open to ideas, reflection and have a deep willingness to be heard. You have opened yourself up to make meaningful human connections! You are the person I admire most!
But in the world of social media how is it possible to be anything but perfect? We use filters to smooth our skin tone and make our features more attractive. We are constantly keeping up with the Joneses in an attempt to build ourselves up. We try to create perfect children by making excuses for them in this everyone gets a trophy society. How is that teaching our children to embrace our vulnerabilities and build grit? Is that why bullying has become such an epidemic? Are children really that different or are we creating “perfect” children who don’t have the skills to cope with failure and rejection? Where am I going with all this….??

We need to teach ourselves and our children that is it okay…wait not just okay…but it is a part of us as humans to be vulnerable. We need to allow ourselves the time and the space to feel worthy of our vulnerabilities. But how?

I literally just asked my husband, “Why does it always take me longer to write these than I anticipate”….his response, “because you want to make them perfect!” UGHGHGHGG!!!That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Why does this have to be perfect in my mind, because I don’t want anyone to expose me for being a poor speller, (which I am!), or for not doing my research, (which I spent almost an hour researching and posting on my pages for insight…) or maybe I’m afraid of really opening myself up to the possibility that people LOVE my blogs. They appreciate my directness, my ideas, and have started actively using the techniques I have discussed. WHAT?? CRAZINESS!!

I guess it’s time to bring this message home. I am so very guilty of diverting conversations, of vague answers, of boasting about how great teaching teenagers is. I am guilty of not telling my husband how I’m truly feeling because I’m afraid that he’s not ready to support me emotionally, and physically. I’m afraid of being vulnerable, but I’m also craving connection, knowing I have to have compassion for myself, and embracing the courage it takes to be imperfect.

So where does that leave me? Right alongside all of you, all of us needs to feel human connection and it all starts with being a little more vulnerable. I pledge to be more vulnerable with my husband. I will allow myself the space and time to open up about how I’m truly feeling. The next time I’m in a situation when someone genuinely asks me, “How are you?” I’m not going to sugar coat, or hesitate. I’m going to be honest and tell them my struggles because I owe it to myself and not one else. What are you going to do this week to be more open and vulnerable?

I’d love to hear from you about this blog. Send me a message below or through Facebook. Also, what are some topics you’d be interested in learning more about? I can’t wait to share these ideas on my Facebook Live on Thursday!
Have a great week! Jen