I am going to ask you guys to take some time to watch the video embedded below. In fact, maybe you can also take some time to pass it on. It’s an amazing TedTalk lecture by Brené Brown—a self-labeled “researcher-storyteller” whose background is social study—and she gives incredible food for thought in terms of how we shut ourselves off in order to avoid feelings of sadness, disappointment, loss, and fear. But, she says (and I don’t want this to be a spoiler for you to watching it because it is so worth watching), the main difference between those of us who feel an overall sense of worthiness, who have a strong sense of love and belonging, and those of us who don’t is that the “worthy” ones BELIEVE they are worthy. Only diff.
She goes on to talk about the essential ingredient at the core of this belief—which is that we need to embrace our vulnerability. To put ourselves out there despite possible rejection or dismay. “I love you”, not because I want you to know I love you, not because I hope if I say it you will love me back, but because I love YOU. Simple as that.
Of course, we’re very vulnerable with each other here. We’ve gotten used to telling each other our stories despite what people might say or think. To me this shows that vulnerability-practice “makes perfect”, or at the very least “makes adorably imperfect”. If you’ve read any of our earlier posts, you might remember that at first this concept of honest vulnerability was very hard for Deb and I. We came this close to blogging anonymously, or under pseudonyms, or making up stories to get a laugh or make a point. It took a huge leap of faith for us to put ourselves out there and speak openly and truthfully as ourselves and from the heart to people we didn’t know. If you ever read my very first post, you’ll remember that I talked about how hard it had been for me to really embrace female friendships in my life—because I didn’t know how to be vulnerable … and I didn’t really want to be. It wasn’t until I realized I HAD to be vulnerable (and utterly myself) in order to gain the kinds of friendships I yearned for, that the onus was on ME to take that plunge, that I forced myself to re-jig my approach to people. It was painful, like one of those bone-cracking, flesh-chlurping transformations you see on werewolf movies.
But it was worth every contortion, contusion, and muscle cramp. My vulnerability has made me a better, happier, more at peace person. That said, I will also take Ms. Brown’s advice and embrace my pain and loss and disappointment because these things remind me of my humanity.
So now I want to follow her Twitter-lead and ask her question: what makes you feel vulnerable?
I’ll start by answering: of all the fears that make me feel most vulnerable, it’s in the possibility of being rejected. Over the last several years, I have learned to embrace this vulnerability. Why? Because even if you don’t love me, I still love you. I love loving you. Because even if you don’t like my words, I still want to say them. I love saying them.
Deb: I will start my response by saying that I am in therapy. There. How’s that for vulnerable? But in my vulnerability I am strong enough to know it and use it. I have gone to therapy again recently to help me cope with the conflicting and painful feelings around the changes in our families’ lives. And I go because I am vulnerable and I embrace it and I talk through it. I also happen to have a warm, giving, and extremely bright therapist whom I adore. I look at her as my gift to myself. I go because I want to expose myself to the possibility of internal peace. I go because I want my life to be the very very best life it can be. I admit that it is not, but I also address the fact that I know it can be.
What makes me vulnerable is not trying to grow. Yet even when I only try to exact growth in myself, I am The Hulk.