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!