“…The best place to start is with defining, recognizing, and understanding vulnerability.”
Dr. Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
A few days ago I started listening to Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown. I’ve had this book on hold with the library for over 30 weeks — that is how popular this book has become. It was published in 2012, but her research and discussion are timeless.
This book could not have shown up at a better time for me. I haven’t finished the entire thing yet, but her discussion on vulnerability really resonated. I found it so interesting that we perceive vulnerability in others as courageous, but as weakness in ourselves.
In Daring Greatly, towards the start of the discussion on vulnerability, Brené shares responses that people provided when given the prompt: “Vulnerability is ___.” Here are some of the responses she received:
- Sharing an unpopular opinion
- Standing up for myself
- Asking for help
- Saying “no”
- Starting my own business
- Signing my mom up for hospice care
- Saying, “I love you” first and not knowing if I’ll be loved back
- Going on a first date after a divorce
- Sharing a piece that I wrote or art that I made
As she continued to read (I’m listening to the audio book), I became more emotional. Even as I listen to it back now, I’m moved by each response. The courage that it takes to do any of these things.
To put yourself out there and not know what the response will be. The uncertainty and the discomfort that is required. The strength that it takes to step up again, after striking out-sometimes more than once. It’s easy to see why some people struggle with vulnerability.
Then I listened to her TED Talk from 2010 and learned even more about vulnerability and the role that shame plays (also discussed in Daring Greatly). Shame is a “fear of disconnection…”
“Is there something about me, that if other people know it or see it, I won’t be worthy of connection?”
Through her research, she found that what “underpinned” people’s shame, or their belief that they aren’t “good enough” stemmed from vulnerability. Or as Brené put it:
“This idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.”
To be seen. To be accepted and loved for being your authentic self. That is the ultimate payoff of vulnerability. That’s why we get back up and try again, and put ourselves out there.
Since I heard this prompt, I’ve been thinking about how I would fill-in the blank. This is what I’ve come up with:
“Vulnerability is ___”.
- Being 36 years old and single
- Dating again
- Starting a blog
- Writing honest posts and sharing pictures of myself that open me up to the judgement and criticism of others
- Wondering if I’m “good enough” for my job
As I sit here now, about to hit “Publish” on this post, I’m a little scared. I took my morning walk with my dogs and wondered if this is even something I should share? After a few minutes of trying to talk myself out of it, I ultimately decided that not that many people will read this anyway. 🙂
Being vulnerable is risky and uncertain — but, it’s how we connect. It’s what makes us human. It’s how we find true love, courage, and strength. This topic really got me thinking, and I’m excited to learn more from the great Dr. Brené Brown!
What is vulnerability to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Originally published at https://jamiepittman.com on July 21, 2020.