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08 Sep Finding Power in Vulnerability

When Brene Brown’s TED talk was released in 2010, her message of wholehearted living struck a chord with millions of people around the world.

Speaker, author, and professor Brene Brown has spent years researching shame, courage, and vulnerability. Her research sheds a fascinating light on how we can improve our lives by reversing the fear and shame that holds us back, and instead embracing courage and vulnerability. She teaches people to show up, allow themselves to be seen, and live brave.

How Do You React to Vulnerability?

Research in the field of shame and connection points out that our society is losing our tolerance for vulnerability. We view it as weakness, when in actuality, it’s sheer courage.

Vulnerability is a vital part of our lives. We feel it every day, any time we’re taking a risk, admitting to wanting something, and showing our true selves. It can happen when initiating intimacy with a partner, applying for a new job, or sharing a song we wrote. Vulnerability is a scary thing because it opens us up to the possibility of rejection. In reaction, we often employ unhealthy coping techniques, or armor, that block our true potential.

A Few Common Types of Armor

  • Numbing: This might be the most common way that we cope with vulnerability. We block our feelings with artificial boosts, like food, drugs, social media, or sex. When we allow something dominant enough to crowd into our head, it can shove other things aside, like vulnerability.
  • Perfectionism: Perfectionism is a mindset wherein we believe that if we can control everything, we can also control the outcome. How can anything bad happen if you follow the formula the media tells you to? It’s important to note that there’s a big difference between perfectionism and healthy striving. In perfectionism, we’re all about controlling how others see us, whereas in healthy striving, we’re controlling personal actions and goals. We’re willing to compromise and adapt.
  • Foreboding Joy: This is that reaction when, right when we’re on the cusp of true joy and bliss, we start rehearsing disaster, bracing ourselves for something cataclysmic to take it all away.
  • Playing Cool: This can also be called “disappointment as a lifestyle.” It’s what we do when we downplay our hopes and wants, instead acting like nothing matters in the hopes that nothing will hurt us.

Learning to Manage Vulnerability and be Empowered by It

So if all those are the ways that we counter vulnerability, how can we actually learn to embrace it, and get the benefits that come from living wholeheartedly? There are many ways, but here are a few powerful ideas:

  • Turn foreboding joy into gratitude. Stay in the moment and be grateful for things as they come.
  • Honor what’s ordinary in our lives. Counter all the disaster images that we gather every day by gathering good images instead.
  • Lean into uncertainty and failure by recognizing your defense techniques and rejecting them.
  • Learn shame resilience by practicing empathy for yourself and for others.
  • Remember that although you risk hurt when you are vulnerable, invulnerability will cost you the greatest rewards you can have in life: creative expression, love and joy.

We’re Certified in The Daring Way

The Daring Way is an experiential methodology based on Brene Brown’s research. Through guided discussion, participants are taught shame resilience, and taught daily methods to live more wholeheartedly. Contact us for more information.

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