You may have seen Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability – with 10.6 million views, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t at least heard of it. In it, the social work researcher describes her work, determining why some people are able to live “whole-hearted” lives while others struggle. The key, she says, is opening up to the possibility of bad news, disconnection, and rejection. It’s taking our fear and shame by the horns and saying yes, it’s there, and feeling it anyway – because we are worthy of love and connection.
On a scale of 1-10, how worthy do you feel of love, connection and acceptance? How much are you willing to be vulnerable? After some rough years where I didn’t feel worthy as a partner, a professional, or even a functioning grown-up, I am starting to open myself up to vulnerability. It’s a huge step forward. Maybe, like Brené says, it was a spiritual awakening. It means that whether I am applying for work, creating a career for myself, or opening myself up to new friendships (maybe new relationships), it matters much less than it used to if that connection doesn’t happen. Within myself, I am learning to be whole.
And now, here’s the new lesson for me – learning to be whole includes learning how to grow, how to be shaped and influenced by the people and things around me, while still feeling entirely myself. I don’t have to give up who I am to connect with others. I can have boundaries and relationships, and so can the people I care about. Occasionally for me, breathing through that (still scary) place of vulnerability, I imagine either myself or whoever I am interacting with wrapped in a big pink cloud. Try it – it’s surprisingly effective!