Today, I am excited for you to hear from Brené Brown, a brave woman who fought a year-long scientific “slug-fest” with vulnerability. She has spent more than a decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.
I found it fascinating that, through her research on vulnerability, she sought to control and predict (the very definition of research) but instead her research showed that she needed to stop controlling and predicting…
Her work has helped me to think of vulnerability, connection, courage, shame, fear, worthiness and wholeheartedness in a much deeper and interconnected way. The reality is that vulnerability is not weakness, despite the fact that society or our own history teaches us that it is. Vulnerability is courage. It is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Check out this video. You will appreciate the twenty minutes of growth.
In a past blog post, I wrote about one of my favorite books. It opens with a very powerful quote by Anaïs Nin… And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
For me, many years ago, I also found myself in the midst of a “spiritual awakening” (aka: breakdown), it was a time in my life where it was more painful to stay the same than it was to change. Like Brené Brown, I found myself in a therapists chair declaring that I was “very goal-oriented” and that “I only wanted to talk about the future, not about the past”. Fortunately for me, my therapist also had a high meter for BS (and a lot of patience). She nodded her head and listened to this mindset…for about a year. Then one day, I got it. It was like a proverbial light bulb had turned on or a fog had lifted. I had to address my past and the feelings associated with it if I ever wanted to truly live in the present. In Buddhism for Mothers: A calm approach to caring for yourself and your children, Sarah Napthali eloquently wrote, “If you want an explanation for your present, look at your past; if you want to know your future look at your present.”
Each of us is on a journey. Some of us are locked in our past. Some of us are grounded in the present. Some of us are solely focused on the future. The best we can do is to work on ourselves and support others where they are at, which will ultimately help us all get to where we need to be.
Brené Brown suggests attempting the following on our journeys to wholeheartedness:
To let ourselves be deeply seen, vulnerably seen
To love with our whole hearts, even though there is no guarantee
To practice gratitude and lean into joy, even in moments of terror
To believe that we are enough, truly enough
She says that those who have mastered wholeheartedness tell their stories with their whole heart, that they have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to themselves and others, and that they foster connections as a result of authenticity-that they are willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they are. To me, this is ultimate vulnerability.
While vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and struggle for worthiness, it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love…
How can we be more vulnerable so that we are engaging in our lives from a place of authenticity?