“You’re the captain of this ship. You have no right to be vulnerable.” Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock on the TV Series Star Trek (1966-1969).
Being vulnerable means admitting we have fear and shame. Admitting we have fear and shame make us feel vulnerable. The cycle drives us to pretend, to put up a facade and to act like something we are not.
According to Brene Brown (researcher and storyteller), there are several reactions we have to the fear and shame of vulnerability…**
“We make the uncertain, certain”: rigid ritual (instead of relationship), which says, “I’m right, you’re wrong, shut up, that’s it.”
“We blame others for why we feel the way we feel.” When we blame others, it is a way to discharge our own shame, vulnerability and discomfort. If we highlight the fault in others, we believe it will take the focus off of our own faults.
“We perfect. We try to look perfect, act perfect, and teach perfect.” But what we NEED to do is understand we are IMPERFECT, and teach others and ourselves that even though we are imperfect, we are worthy of love and belonging because we are human.
“We pretend that what we do does not have an affect or impact on people.” We do this in our jobs, our families and our friendships. Sometimes all we need to do is be vulnerable and say we are sorry – to help build connection with others. Every action has an affect on someone else.
The fear of vulnerability separates us in relationship from others. Embracing vulnerability strengthens our relationship with others, when done in a trusting setting. In order to create a trusting setting, each person needs to prove they are “trustworthy.”
According to Brown,** with my thoughts added to her instructions from her research, there are ways we can build connection with others. This will deepen your relationship with those you choose to build it with.
“Let yourself be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen.”
This requires confession. You cannot hide who you really are if you desire a deep meaningful connection with someone else. Confessing to each other requires vulnerability. Vulnerability may even eradicate hypocrisy. Wouldn’t that be something!
Vulnerability is necessary when building relationships others. Everyone has issues. When you let someone see you, vulnerably, you become more accessible emotionally.
“Love with our whole hearts, even if there is NO guarantee. This is hard, even excruciatingly difficult.”
Loving another person requires that we come to a place of loving ourselves, forgiving ourselves, caring for ourselves, and understanding we are worthy of love and belonging.
“Practice gratitude and lean on joy.”
Gratitude is another lost art. The human condition has turned inward and we expect gratitude without freely giving it to others. It’s the thank you provided for a small random act of kindness. It is the tip you give because you see your waiter or waitress has gone out of their way to help you.
When you practice gratitude, you actually begin to feel more joyful. The constant intentional focus on gratitude will eventually guide your thoughts away from the negative and allow you to be more vulnerable.
How? If you are grateful for what you have, you become content in whatever state you find yourself in, because it could always be worse.
“Understand that we are enough.”
It is a dangerous place to find yourself when you are constantly thinking you don’t have what it takes to make a difference.
Who you are NOW, what you have learned up to NOW, has given you everything you need to make a difference, NOW. It doesn’t mean you stop learning and growing. It does mean you don’t have to wait to build meaningful relationships with others.
Let your actions be a catalyst for LIFE CHANGE in someone else’s life.
What we do DOES have an impact on those around us. If we hide our vulnerability, we will only develop surface relationships. If we embrace our vulnerability, we might be surprised at the strength we feel in relationship with others who are trustworthy and develop much more meaningful friendships.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How has embracing vulnerability been a strength for you? Have you experienced a negative experience when you were vulnerable with someone you could NOT trust?
Leave a comment, and let’s start a discussion.
**YouTube. (2010, June). Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability#t-19066