Somewhere along the road of our life journeys we must face feeling vulnerable…that uncomfortable exposure that feels like we are suddenly walking an emotional tightrope without any safety net. We can choose a safe haven of denial and hiding or risk exposing our true selves in a search for love, connection, creativity, authenticity and fulfillment.
This month I began my own exploration into vulnerability by deciding to sign up for an on-line course taught by shame researcher and author Brene Brown. This learning and feeling experience is based on her two most recent books; “Daring Greatly” and “Rising Strong”. I have just complete Week 2 of my “Living Brave” semester.
I wanted to make my entrance into 2016 a new year of inner exploration that would help me grow and share my discoveries through my work with women in transition. True to what I had been hoping for, I have lots to tell you!
Life transitions very often transport us to our most vulnerable places. Old hurts, unresolved feelings and how we allow or close off honesty and openness in our relationships and in ourselves get tested. For example, just imagine what these three women are going through. Can you relate to their vulnerability?
Wendy never thought that her husband would betray her by having an affair. She trusted him. It was unimaginable! Their love, their marriage was the forever kind…until the day she discovered his infidelity.
Jenny’s job was safe and secure. She was good at it and had been with the company for years. The certainty and security she felt vanished in the time it took to read her pink slip and register that she had been laid off.
Sofia thought the joy and happiness she shared with her husband would always be there, even as she knew they were both getting older. Then, one day he suffered a heart attack and died.
Adultery, job loss and bereavement have rocked the worlds of Wendy, Jenny and Sofia. What they had always counted on, the certainty in their lives suddenly disappeared.. The fears we hold about losing these constants in our living, is what fuels us to protect ourselves against the hurt and pain of having that security taken away and replaced with uncertainty and fear.
In our desire to protect ourselves or hide from the pain of facing such vulnerabilities, we want to turn ourselves off to the risks and pain of such emotional exposure. But… in that process, what else do we close ourselves off to?
Wendy might decide that she can never be open and trusting of a new relationship after the betrayal of her husband. She will hide from any possible meaningful relationships instead of risking being hurt again.
Jenny fears the risk of rejection in job search. Her mind is constantly running through “what ifs” to prove that an interview will certainly end in failure. Even if she was to get the job there would be no guarantees…so why bother?
Sofia isolates herself and wraps herself in her grief. She is afraid to embrace living now that her husband is not at her side. Her happiness and love ended with her husband’s death.
Sadly, the more we try to protect and shield ourselves from being vulnerable, the more we disengage from others and disengage from feeling and experiencing the full range of life’s joys, laughter, love, learning, creativity and adaptability. This is where we need to summon our courage and make our way through the hard times to find our new beginnings.
Being vulnerable is opening ourselves up and sharing who we really are to others with no guarantee that they will see us. That doesn’t mean we just “let it all hang out” indiscriminantly. “Living Brave”, as Brene Brown describes it, includes thoughtful and necessary boundaries.
Yes, living into vulnerability is an arduous journey that can hold much promise. If we dig into the journey as a path of self-discovery, meaning, hope and faith, we can open up in ways we never thought possible.
Brene Brown calls this choice to allow ourselves to be vulnerable rather than closing ourselves off, “Daring Greatly”. Think of some of your tough times. Can you remember how vulnerable you felt? Can you also remember whether you hid or stood your ground? What did you learn about yourself?
Have you taken the chance to discover your strength and courage! Have you risked vulnerability to find your”birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability and authenticity”? I hope you have! If not, perhaps I can help you find your way.
What do you think? Join our discussion on my website!
Women and Money
The transition to retirement for some is so stressful that they become almost paralyzed with fear.