Why vulnerability is the new awesome

Let’s see those puppy bellys!

Five Reasons You Should Embrace Vulnerability

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In her best-selling book Daring Greatly (read an excerpt here) Brene Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. She also acknowledges what you might have already guessed: Our culture does not do a great job of teaching people how be vulnerable. Part of the reason for this is that vulnerability often brings up feelings that we don't like and may have no idea how to cope with.

Fortunately Brown’s research also shows that learning how to get more comfortable with being vulnerable is the best way to reach our full potential, the surest route to self worth and happiness, and that vulnerability is a springboard for developing courage, compassion, and true connection with ourselves and others.

So let's roll over onto our backs and get to know vulnerability a little better.

5 ways to better understand vulnerability

1. Vulnerability is a rejection of black and white thinking.

The converse is also true. A space without vulnerability is usually chock-full of extreme thinking lacking in nuance. Fox News and fundamentalist religions come to mind. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable acknowledges that there are so many points of view, ways of being, and options in the world…many of which you haven't considered yet. At first acknowledging all these options can feel overwhelming and anxiety producing, but if you settle in and wait it out you just might see a rainbow kaleidoscope of possibility (mine includes unicorns).

2. Vulnerability shows us what is important to us.

Fear is nature’s primordial way of reminding us what really matters. Noticing and acknowledging what scares the bejesus out of you is the first step to getting comfortable with vulnerability. Don't feel like you have to do anything right away about all these fears that have been sitting in your psychic waiting room. Just be like, “Hey Fear-of-Rejection, I see you there and I know you've been waiting a long time. I have a really busy week so do you mind waiting a little longer?” It's amazing how much just acknowledging your fears can calm them down. Nobody likes to be ignored!

3. Vulnerability teaches us compassion for other people.

When you allow yourself to experience the highs and lows of the roller coaster ride of human emotion you can't help but notice all the other people screaming and white knuckling right along with you. Your hearts are pounding together, your stomachs are dropping as one, you all feel a simultaneous sigh of relief when the ride is over. There are no true strangers, just people on different roller coasters with whom you haven't yet ridden.

4. Vulnerability changes our relationships with our to-do lists.

One of the best ways to avoid feeling vulnerable is to stay busy and do all the things we think should make us happy and successful. Climbing this mountain of “should’s” keeps us exhausted and too tired to look at what is really important. When we allow ourselves to slow down and begin to figure out what our true priorities are (hint: the ones that scare us the most) your to-do list will get shorter, more powerful, and more profound.  Here’s mine: Write and publish stuff that helps people laugh and live better.

5. Vulnerability allows us to reach our full potential including training and participating in the Emotional Olympics (aka life).

Events include love, creativity, joy, trust, and connection. In the Emotional Olympics  we all get to take turns being nervous competitors, supportive coaches, and foam-finger-wearing fans. You can’t help but be inspired by cheering for someone else working on their profound to-do list and competing in the arena of their greatest fears. It might get you wondering, “What am I training for?”