It may not feel that way at first, but vulnerability is a good thing! You need some other things in place for it to work its magic, but once you have them vulnerability, empathy and compassion can be your guiding lights to living a wholehearted life.
I often find myself learning from animals. One thing I have observed in my dog is that her combination of confidence along with her willingness to present herself as vulnerable (for example, approach to the side or lie on her back when playing) is a winning combination in the dog run. Throw in a desire to connect with others and you have one happy, well-balanced pooch with a great social life! The recipe for humans may be different, but the result is a deeper connection to others.
Reflecting on my most treasured friendships I notice that with each of them I have experienced times of feeling vulnerable, and vice versa. Some of the more dramatic times that come to mind were not events that I, or they, welcomed or found remotely easy: going through a divorce, a pet’s palliative care, a parent’s illness, the heartbreaking passing of a child. There is something about it these times that cuts through the static to the very core of connection. But even the simple act of asking for help requires a certain level of vulnerability.
What are the Benefits?
The main benefit of vulnerability is that it facilitates deep connection, empathy and compassion. In addition, it goes hand-in-hand with successfully making changes.Brene Brown argues that meaningful change is only possible if you go through periods of vulnerability.
This resonates with many people who have gone through a big transition in their lives. Rather like the hermit crab who outgrows its shell – it gets so uncomfortable that the crab has to leave the shell and find a new one exposing itself to moments of intense vulnerability in the process. (If you have 2 mins check out this extraordinary BBC Earth video with David Attenborough – simply amazing).
So what does it mean to be vulnerable, how does it look, and how do we protect ourselves?
Three Things You Might Like to Try:
- Brene Brown is an expert on this subject. Her definition of being vulnerable goes something like this: you understand and accept that you are imperfect, will make mistakes, will struggle at times, and you are worthy of love all the same. Accept this for yourself, and for those around us and we will be gentler kinder people.
- Being vulnerable means being tender, courageous, whole-hearted. It means not numbing those times when we might wince, but embracing all of it and saying to yourself the mantra “I am deserving of love just the way I am. I am enough”.
- Remember when I mentioned my dog at the beginning and how she combined confidence with vulnerability. I believe the human version is a complete acceptance of self, a firm sense of one’s own worth combined with boundaries around what is OK with you and what isn’t OK.
With vulnerability comes authentic close relationships where you are able to be yourself and accept others for who they are. I for one think that is pretty awesome!
With warmest wishes for a happy day,