Daring Greatly: Debunking Myth #1

This week we’re going to breakdown some of the myths of vulnerability. We’re going to define vulnerability, weakness, and a few other terms. And we’ll cover 4 of the major myths when it comes to vulnerability.

Myth #1: Vulnerability is Weakness

Let’s start by defining what vulnerability is. The dictionary definition of vulnerability is “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally” As Brene states “We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgment and criticism.”

Most of our culture has a perception that vulnerability is weakness. We spend most of our lives trying to live with a “suck it up and soldier on” or “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. Which, there is, in my opinion, a time and a place for that mind set. Sometimes life is hard and you have to push through the hard stuff, and dig through the messy stuff to get to the good stuff. We have to remember that “life is the messy bits” (Letters to Juliet). But there is also a level of being vulnerable, with the people close to you – close friends and family, about what’s going on.

Here’s an example – I recently started dating this guy who I’ve been friends with for a solid year before we decided to date. Now that we’re dating we’ve been working on sharing on a deeper level with each other. Over the last year we kept our friendship pretty superficial, so we have to learn to share more with each other, and choose to trust each other. This week I had a solid 48 hours where I was feeling pretty anxious. I was hoping it would go away, but it didn’t so I told him how I was feeling and was talking through the different things making me anxious. Making the decision to talk to tell him that I was anxious was I huge step for me. Sharing that, choosing to be vulnerable with him was an opportunity to build a deeper relationship.

However, in our culture, there is more superficial, short-term satisfaction than deeply rooted, supporting relationships. Part of the root of the problem of superficiality is the fear and avoidance of vulnerability, and the perception that vulnerability is weakness.

b158f967e2fb1449773c7a153c61214d“Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living….Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”

 

Despite the overwhelming cultural norm of vulnerability being a sign of weakness, vulnerability is what gives our lives meaning. It is what gives purpose to being alive. But it is also uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. There is fear that comes with being vulnerable.

Vulnerability has all kinds of faces. Here’s some of the ways it can look:

  • -standing up for yourself
  • -asking for help
  • -saying no
  • -sharing something you created (art in any form)
  • -falling in love
  • -trying new things
  • -bringing a significant other home to meet the family
  • -admitting that you’re afraid
  • -being accountable
  • -asking for forgiveness

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Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage -Brene Brown

Taking risks + braving uncertainty + openings ourselves up to emotional exposure = weakness.
This statement, this equation is false.

Taking risks + braving uncertainty + openings ourselves up to emotional exposure = strength, bravery, courage.
This statement is true, this equation is real life. And the fruit of vulnerability is powerful.

But, vulnerability is scary. It’s feels like those dreams where you’re naked on stage. You feel raw and exposed. You feel relief, and freedom. You learn you’re emotions aren’t as scary as you think you are. You learn how loved you are.

When talking about vulnerability, we have to take a look inside. When we know where we’re tender our risk of being hurt is less. It’s those moments when a weakness is uncovered unexpectedly because we don’t have any self-protective measures up. It hurts more, and we are less prepared.

Brown became most famous after her TED talk. In this chapter she talks about how in the weekend of the conference where her TED talk was recorded she watched multiple people go before her, as she was one of the last ones to speak of the weekend. She was watching these people go before her and wanting her talk to make the same impact. What she noticed is the people whose talks were the most profound were the people who were their genuine selfs.

The people who seem to have the greatest impact are often the people who are the most genuine selves. I love when people put up “unfiltered” posts on social media. It’s so easy for instagram and facebook to be a feeding ground for comparison because they are the “highlight reel” of people’s lives. But I love a messy living room picture of a mom with young kids, or a messy selfie. I love those candid, genuine moments in life. I love seeing the messy bits of people’s lives because those are the real moments, and those are the beautiful moments.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough…”

 

Love is not a victory march, love is a cold and broken hallelujah. Vulnerability is not a victory march, vulnerability is a cold and broken hallelujah. Vulnerability is life’s great dare.
Will you dare to let go of the myth that vulnerability is weakness, and choose to the vulnerable life?

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