Being vulnerable sucks and I struggle with it on a daily basis. I have opened up and been vulnerable to people whom I trusted, and it backfired (badly). Instead of feeling brave and free, I felt shame. I believe that being vulnerable has the ability to be great, but it can also go inconceivably wrong in many ways. The disappointment can be brutal; the personal rejection of who you are, and what you stand for, is soul-crushing. Trust is broken, and that is difficult to overcome.
Brené Brown (2010) speaks (and writes) about the courage of being vulnerable: “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage”. But being vulnerable is painstakingly uncomfortable; it’s not “safe” to share your thoughts (good and bad), feelings, opinions, and especially one’s heart, when there is no guarantee that we won’t face rejection in some way or form, as a result. For those of you who know me well, you know that I put up a fierce wall around my heart years ago. It protected me from experiencing (yet another) ending that inevitably would disappoint, and hurt like hell. So I numbed myself to even the possibility of what could be. Brown (2010) affirms that when you numb vulnerability, you are basically trying to take the pain away from your emotions (i.e. grief, shame, disappointment). Unfortunately, by being numb, you also miss out on the potential to feel joy, and be hopeful about what the future may hold. But having hope can be just as scary as allowing yourself to be vulnerable… maybe even more so, because without hope, you have nothing.
When I “share” my life and (occassionally… well, maybe more than occassionally) my opinions on my blog or other forms of social media, I open myself up to critique and judgement. It happens all the time; there is always that angry text, or DM meme, that soon follows, insulting my opinion and telling me that I am “wrong”. When it comes to politics (especially lately), people don’t usually budge from their “I’m right and you’re wrong, so shut up” opinion. I just want to know one thing…when did it become acceptable to experience anger and rage because someone has a different viewpoint than you? The “facts” become skewed, and the uncertain, becomes certain, whether it is true or not. Blame is thrown around as if my opinion started a war. Anger erupts, and manners are thrown out the window.
We pretend that what we do, or say, doesn’t have an impact on others; but it does. For every “effect”, there is a “cause”. “If you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have done this…”. It is all very predictable. Widely known are the words from Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. It’s all about the choices we make; be it “safe and comfortable” (what we already know), or take another route, for better or worse, and make it an adventure. As for me, I haven’t always made the best choices, and I don’t have any words of wisdom to give you about sharing varying degrees of vulnerability with others in a less awkward, and more comfortable, manner… but if I figure it out, I will share it with you. I promise.
Brown, B. (2010). The power of vulnerability; TED talks. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability