Vulnerability was a concept I accepted as a great idea.... for other people--yet some part
of me said, don't try it!!
I read the books on all the benefits of being vulnerable and the value it had for setting us free. I was a big fan of Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability. However, to be honest with you I just never planned on really jumping all in with this concept. It was one of those things you'll totally click "Like it" on Facebook but won't do it in real life. I completely understood the value or theory of letting our guard down, being open to risk, finding the comfort in uncertainty, showing our real self to the world, being open to others and even allowing ourself to be emotionally vulnerable to all that may not agree. However, for me this just seem unreasonable and I would learn later that unconsciously I was really terrified of the idea.
All of that, "be brave, show your true self and go after your BIG dreams", sounds good and it sounds like the way we "should" live, I even preached it to others but unconsciously I didn't accept it to be true for me. WHY? Because the last thing I wanted was to put myself out in front of the world to be criticized, sized up, judged or take the chance I would fall flat on my face. I'd had enough of that in my life and my internal threats department said "Avoid Vulnerability....DANGER!!!". Everyone talks about "be brave and follow your dreams", but I was a big scaredy cat that had only about 1/4 of a tank of bravery left in me. I was the LION on the Wizard of Oz....seemed brave on the outside but scared to death on the inside. I could take the world on as long as it fit within what I was comfortable with.
So most of my life was about creating success and opportunities that fit within my "safe" idea of what I should do. Now I admit that allowed for quite a bit of success for me but it was mostly surface success. I worked for big companies, worked in industries I thought were safe (even though I didn't like them), worked with clients that seemed stable and safe, dipped my toes into starting my dream business but never really jumped full in. I knew in my heart that this wasn't what I should be doing. I knew that one day I'd have to risk it and "go explore my REAL dreams". It scared me to death.
Life has a way of forcing us to face our fears if we don't do it voluntarily.
All it takes is an event that feels like you just got hit in the stomach and knocked to the ground to make you realize no one's life is safe from uncertainty. The day I found my mom unresponsive on her kitchen floor and I spent 15 minutes doing CPR on her, yelling at her to not leave and watching the paramedics work on her....I realized in that moment I was vulnerable to anything and everything. When they told me, "I'm sorry there's nothing more we can do," all I could think was this can't be real!!! I was numb, shocked and completely confused because in my "master plan" of how things were going to BE in my life, my mom leaving like this was NOT written in. I had other people leaving sooner than her. All this time I was hiding in my well planned safe corner trying to avoid danger, uncertainty and pain and it still found me.
I don't tell you this to make you "feel" for me, I'm telling you this because I had avoided vulnerability most of my life and regardless of how well I thought I protected myself I realized Mr. VULNERABILITY just moved into my life and he wasn't going anywhere--and I had NO power over what was happening.
Losing power for someone who spent hours calculating how to control and anticipate her life, is like a super hero finding out they never had their powers in the first place. If I d NO power to control my life, how do I learn how to exist in my life without this safety net?
The revelation hit me--I can't guarantee that everything will be fine...no matter how I live my life. Somehow I thought I could before. It was frightening and presented a whole new world to me. It was like I was jolted awake from a very long and deep dream, as I grasped that for so many years I worked soooooo hard to keep myself safe, avoid risk, avoid conflict and how most of my decisions were filtered through the "is this safe" lens---instead of is this good for me.
The weeks, months and years following this event I began to chose a new normal for myself (I had no choice) because I FINALLY understood we don't have all the time in the world to become the person we know were meant to become. Slowly, I realized that anything new would always have risk and uncertainty but that's where opportunity lives. Opportunity to grow, evolve, learn and yes fail too. But that changed for me also....failing became another opportunity for learning instead of a pain trigger. Filling my bravery tank didn't just happen, I still struggle with this, but I began taking small steps and then bigger ones to fill my tank. I'm sure you could take big, huge wild steps and fast forward to your bravery but I wasn't a quick learner or a brave learner. It took me some time but I ignored the voice in me that said I had to do it a specific way.....I realized I just had to keep moving forward.
There's no ONE way to embrace your own vulnerability and sometimes it's a lifelong journey to learn how to do it for yourself. I'm far from being "all in" with mine but I will say I'm farther than where I was and moving towards being at peace with it.
If you avoid it like I did it's probably because you're hiding something, something you fear. Something that seems perfectly logical because frankly all we're trying to do is stay safe. Take the time to explore this because it becomes a barrier that keeps you from growing, evolving and really becoming who you were meant to be.
Resources to help you embrace vulnerability for yourself:
--- Journal and just keep asking the question WHY when you write down your beliefs or ideas on this concept. You have everything you need within you already.
---Watch Brene Brown's Vulnerability TEDtalk Below: