I have always been someone who was prone to being a little bit of a thinker and a little bit of a feeler. People who know me are going to read that and smirk. “A little bit of a” what? Okay, so it is a lot of thinking and a LOT of feeling. To find the elusive aha… I live for that. So it is no surprise that Brené Brown shook me with her wisdom like she did millions of others when she gave her infamous TEDx talk on “The Power of Vulnerability.”
Because unconsciously, I liked everything about vulnerability. I was already practicing the big risk-taking part of it without having reconciled with the fact that being vulnerable is being courageous.
Brené had challenged the biggest misconception about Vulnerability when her talk went viral: Vulnerability is weak. We have lived our whole lives hearing that and believing that so much that at the slightest sign of vulnerability within ourselves, we wanted to run in the opposite direction. Because we don’t want to be weak and useless. So what a relief it is to have Brene come with her measuring stick and show us that actually, there is power in being vulnerable. There is growth in it, joy in it as well as creativity in it. It is also what makes you authentic people!
The other thing I hadn’t consciously reconciled with before Brene Brown was the down side of vulnerability- I would need to allow myself to get hurt and be hurt. Hmm… I would need to consciously open myself to experiences that would be risky and painful.
Until that point, I was opening myself to such experiences anyway without being prepared for the heartbreak. I would constantly be surprised at just how much it freakin’ hurt! I’d think I am being such a fool! Why do I do such things again and again? (Obviously I am a thrill seeker. It seemed like such a great idea at the time!) Why do I feel like this? I don’t want to feel like this. I would do everything to talk myself out of feeling like it.
And onwards I would go to take on the next risk and to throw my whole heart into another project because that was my thing. It got to a point when I started to disengage with how I felt, to lie to myself and others about it, to put layers between myself and the truth- my truth. Layers and layers of it. Which made me dangerous. Fly into a rage at the drop of a hat. Do things to vent my anger without being consciously aware of it…
When I was losing it, the writers who came to my aid are Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert and Oriah Mountain Dreamer. They inspired me to stick my feelings out, to know it is okay – that there was no need for blaming and shaming myself and thinking something was wrong with me.
There is such profound freedom in knowing it is okay to go through what you are and to be where you are! For most of us, our biggest struggle is our struggle with what is, and not grasping the profound okay-ness of where we are.
I guess I understand how each of those things work… Smita and I, we both do. And so do many of the people we love and admire. Which is why our tag line is called “Wear Your Heart”. That’s vulnerability alright! That’s what we stand for.
Like any glorious thing, vulnerability is not easy and some of it hurts a lot and it requires a lot of work, but sticking with it is worth it. I am beginning to understand that vulnerability is our ability to be achingly honest with our self and others on an on-going basis; it is our ability to deal with our brokenness with gentleness. I think we are meant to be constantly broken in order to have that necessary amount of empathy with our fellow human beings.
“If you are strong enough to be weak enough, you are given a wound that never heals. It is a gift that keeps the heart open.” says Oriah Mountain Dreamer, one of my favorite authors.
You navigate that path and you learn what it takes to heal your self. Healing yourself is an on-going journey.Unless you are dead, there is no such as thing as being healed forever and being done with it all. The number of times I have been shaken from my high horse to realize this truth!
The possibility of being hurt is one that you’ve taken on as a living breathing human. What we are called to do is to lean in to every hurt, to heal our self and GROW into everything we are.
DISCLAIMER: There will be awkward moments, awkward conversations… awkward impasses. Disappointments and falling flat on our faces will happen. Moments of complete darkness and huge amounts of uncertainty are a part of it. Tantrums and emotional reactiveness will also happen occasionally. We are not always going to get vulnerability right. We just need to remember that it is okay. We’ll eventually figure it out if we feel it all. And it is all infinitely worth it.