Posted by: Suzan | September 14, 2016

Vulnerability = Strength


What does it mean to be vulnerable? Various dictionary definitions from Webster’s to Wikipedia mention it as “being at risk; susceptible to attack.” Alternatively the website, Psych Central, suggests vulnerability is the level of openness we have with others which helps us form key relationships. It’s ultimately the level of trust we assign other people based on our shared experiences.

Brene Brown, a prominent researcher and author, has redefined vulnerability altogether. In her book, Daring Greatly, How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she states, “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.” She describes it as a natural outgrowth of being authentic even if at times it may seem outright scary. Brown refers to this “strength” as being the birthplace of joy, love, creativity and empathy. It’s the place within us where we are willing to try something new with no guarantees which could be a business, a relationship, a sport, travel, or many others. What is it for you?

Many years ago my husband, Jim, and I decided to take a year of retirement in our 40s. We wanted to travel the world, immerse in the cultures of foreign lands, and also climb some of the larger mountain peaks while we still could. This meant giving up our work situations; for him − a well-paid executive pharmaceutical position and for me – a coaching business I’d spent years building. People reminded us of the “risks.” We might spend most of our money and not find work when we returned; we could get parasites or some strange illness from the food; or be robbed or even killed by some uprising.

As Brown states, “Being vulnerable takes courage.” We had to let go of our comfortable lifestyle in exchange for the unknown adventures which called to us. We also had to feel the fear underneath being vulnerable and make a different response to pursue our dream.

By the way, after our 14 months of travels….Jim returned to the corporate world within 2 months; and I started a new business. Our willingness to be vulnerable led us to some of the best experiences of our lives.

The following are five tips to become stronger by being vulnerable. The Minister at The Unity Center, Wendy Craig-Purcell, shared these from the same book above at a recent service:

  • Don’t wait until you’re perfect or bullet proof to enter the arena (whatever that is for you).
  • Know whose opinions really matter and let go of the rest.
  • Show up and be willing to be seen (as in be genuine).
  • Healing requires vulnerability. Be open to doing healing work around any significant relationship you believe needs it.
  • Be willing to pay attention to where you judge others – it may point to where you have shame.

“Life is vulnerable,” Brown writes. She shares that it’s at the core of all of our emotions and it connects us to one another. If we can see vulnerability as a core strength, rather than a weakness, we can then give ourselves permission to be human.




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