The Power of Vulnerability


The other day, someone I love shared with me that they thought I was making myself vulnerable by being so open about my shortcomings in my blog. Perhaps people would use it against me?

This perspective didn’t feel right to me. It feels important to be authentically me—even if other people see that as weakness. Allowing myself to be vulnerable and trusting that everything is always working out for me feels like the best way I can connect with you fabulous readers and share how to learn and grow anyway.

But it was a feeling. There was nothing concrete that I could point to.

How awesome that the next day, I received this TEDxHouston presentation by Brene’ Brown, who studies the human connection—our ability to empathize, belong, and love. In this poignant, funny talk, Brown shares a deep insight from her research that expanded her personal perception and changed the way she lives, loves, works, and parents.

According to Brown’s research, connection is why we’re here. Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be fully and truly seen. We have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

She says this is the most important thing she has learned in a decade of doing research. Vulnerability is opening ourselves up to shame, fear, and the struggle for worthiness, but it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.

And it is shame that is at the root of being unwilling to be vulnerable. Research defines shame as “the fear of disconnection.” It is that feeling that there is something about you and if other people see it, they won’t love and accept you.

The feeling of vulnerability is so painful, that people do everything they can to “numb” themselves. Brown believes this is one reason we are the “most in debt, most obese, most addicted, and most medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.”

The problem is you cannot selectively numb emotion. If you numb fear, embarrassment, and shame then you also numb joy, gratitude, and happiness. That sets up a cycle where you just keep reaching for another doughnut.

When Brown interviewed what she termed “Whole-Hearted” people who were willing to be vulnerable, the common denominator was a sense of worthiness. Those people had a strong sense of being worthy of love and belonging.

What it all boils down to is believing you are worthy.

Other elements that “Whole-Hearted” people had in common were a sense of courage, meaning they tell the story of Who they are with their whole heart. They have the courage to be imperfect. They are willing to let go of who they should be and be Who they truly are. They fully embrace vulnerability, believing that’s what makes them beautiful.

And they have the compassion to be kind to themselves first. Brown notes that you cannot act with compassion towards others if don’t have compassion for yourself.

The great news is that I am proof that a belief in worthiness can be learned. You don’t have to be born with it. You don’t have to have a tribe of close relatives and flawless family relationships. You can grow up excruciatingly insecure, suffer through years of depression and anxiety, and be perpetually aware of your flaws and imperfections—and still come to realize that you are worthy of love and belonging.

For me, that sense of worthiness comes from my connection with All-That-Is (God, the Universe, Source Energy, Higher Coach—whatever works for you.) Somehow I “got” that no matter what I do, say, or how I show up in this life, I am loved beyond my ability to comprehend love.

And so are you!

So my message today is simple. You are loved. You are adored. You belong. No matter what, you are worthy.

What can you do today to show up as more of Who you really are? How does being honest about who you are—the good, the bad, and the ugly—help you connect with others? How does that help you find your purpose?

Together we can do it!

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25 thoughts on “The Power of Vulnerability

  1. Great blog post Hanna! I think vulnerability is a beautiful beautiful thing!

    I have seen this Ted Talk and it has inspired me to allow myself to feel and be a part of both ends of the spectrum!

    Thank you for being authentically you!

    • Thanks, Jenn! I really appreciate your commenting. I am grateful you are authentically you, too! You are an amazing example to me of being Who you truly are, and how valuable and important that is. Thank you for being you!

  2. Hanna, Just an amazing post! Thank you for sharing the film clip and for always sharing you, the way that you authentically are. As a fan and a follower of your blog, the reason that I come back and read is because you keep it real. Just a lovely, lovely post. Thanks for being you! Hugs.

    • Thanks so much, Stephanie! I really appreciate your comments. I do my best to keep it real and authentic, and I’m glad that not only comes across, but is what makes you come back. I can’t ask for a better compliment than that! Hugs to you!

  3. What an incredibly timely post for me! As you know I launched my own blog last week….and just last night I was debating whether or not to “expose myself” by linking it to facebook, telling my friends, and telling my family. The only people who currently know it exists are you, my sister and my partner. This post, and video, is exactly what I needed to understand the “pull” I’ve been feeling towards publicizing my blog. What this talked has pointed out to me that is OK to seek an audience, that in doing so, and sharing “whole heartedly” of myself, it will surely benefit me and hopefully others. It’s time for me to embrace “excruciating vulnerability”! Thank you for sharing this post/video!

    • Woo hoo! It is absolutely time! The fabulously unique perspective that you bring to the world is your gift that you are meant to share. I love that you are going to let your light shine!

  4. Why hello! Your post is my synchronistic moment of the day!! I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability today and even searched for the actual definition of it on google half an hour ago. And then I see your post! I’ve seen this video before and it really resonates with me. Thanks again…this just reaffirms that all is good! 🙂 x

  5. Superific (new word that I made up.)

    There are so many great truths in this article. We do feel exposed when we do not present our perfectness to the world, but the world is much more endeared to us when we expose our flaws. It is scary, though.

    I never really thought about numbing our negative feelings is also numbing our positive ones, but again you have opened my eyes.

    This article will be revisited by me many more times because there are so many layers of complexity that my head is spinning in thought.

    Great stuff.

  6. Hanna, great post! I believe that the process of coming to terms with vulnerability requires you to face the darkest and most negative things or people in your life- things that have caused you pain, anger or unpleasant feelings.

    How many of us can do that? Easier for me to write, ponder than do, I guess.

    Cheers

    Shakti

  7. I agree with the argument for vulnerability…as I wrote before in a blog post: The depth of the risk depends upon a certain situation; and therefore, a certain amount of “letting your guard down”, meaning a certain vulnerability. Now let us look at the definition of that word, “vulnerability”. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives three options:
    1.Capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.
    2.Open to attack or damage.
    3.Liable to increased penalties, but entitled to increased bonuses after winning a game in contract bridge.

    ….and #3 is very important to remember when being vulnerable. The link to the post:
    http://francescannotwrite.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/risk-regret-and-fairy-tales/

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