Our intolerance for vulnerability

Vulnerability noun

The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

Vulnerability has been popping up in my thoughts for a wee while. I can trace this back to Easter when I was at the beach with my parents and I read 'The gifts of imperfection, let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are' by Brené Brown.

Brené Brown is a research professor and thought leader on vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. This book starts with "Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do", and in order to have the courage to do this, we must be vulnerable. We must believe that we are good enough, lovable, worthy, deserving, safe; whatever words resonate with you, in order to love ourselves, and unfortunately those beliefs are scarce in our current culture. 

Then our April workshop - Radical Acceptance; how to fall in love with yourself - facilitated vulnerability through the creation of a 'safe space' where there was no judgement, no fear, and only positive and loving thoughts toward each other. I know this sounds very touchy feely, but this was a beautiful afternoon and through embracing vulnerability we were able to remove our censors and be authentic.   

Then last week I attended a Seed Waikato event on Vulnerability. We were encouraged to share what we felt vulnerable about in that day/moment, and during the evening pondered and discussed a range of ideas around vulnerability and individuality. 

A Brené Brown TedTalk video was shown at that Seed Waikato event, and in it Brené states that we are losing our tolerance for vulnerability. Take a moment to think about what that means...

Vulnerability is seen as a weakness in our culture. If you show any crack in your emotional armour, it is seen as weak, as if we must be perfect human beings. This is an expectation we have created. We have created perceptions and definitions around vulnerability which are based in the negative - weakness, fear, pain, failure and anxiety to name a few. Just look at the definition of vulnerability at the start of this blog - negative, negative, negative. But as Brené states vulnerability can lead to joy, love, belonging, creativity, faith and more.

Some of the symptoms of this intolerance for vulnerability are:

  • joy becomes foreboding
  • disappointment as a lifestyle
  • low-grade disconnection 
  • perfection
  • extremism 
  • we numb

"We are the most addicted, medicated, obese and in debt adult cohort in history. We're numbing. And this doesn't even include busyness...we stay so busy that the truth of our lives can't catch up."

But you can't just numb the negative or bad emotions, so when we numb these we also numb the good emotions like joy, love, belonging etc. So we need to embrace and experience vulnerability. It exists for a reason. So embrace vulnerability through practicing gratitude, honouring the ordinary and fill your joy reservoir in the good times for the dark times. 

Do you step into vulnerability or shy away from it? Check out the full video from Brené below...

Check out Seed Waikato and their amazing Mahi.

Blessings x 


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