To Dare Greatly You Must Embrace Vulnerability

In what situations do you feel vulnerable?

In Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brene Brown shares the responses she got to a similar statment she asked people to finish. She asked people to finish the sentence stem: “Vulnerability is _______”  and a few of the responses included “Sharing an unpopular opinion,” “Standing up for myself,” “Asking for help,” “Saying, ‘I love you,' first and not knowing if I’m going to be loved back.” and “Presenting my product to the world and getting no response.”

You may know what vulnerability feels like, but may not know how to express a definition of it. In the book, Brown states, “I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure." In the book Brown also illustrates the importance of embracing vulnerability using her own research. Through sharing both personal strories and those stories heard from resondents during her research she keeps the reader engaged and convinces him/her that possesing this trait can add value to one's life. 

At the start of the book Brown lays out the questions she answers in the book. They include “What drives our fear of being vulnerable?” “How are we protecting ourselves from vulnerability?” “What price are we paying when we shut down and disengage? “How much do we own and engage with vulnerability so we start transforming the way we live, love, parent and lead?” One pattern she found among those who she interviewed was that there was a link between vulnerability and living a Wholehearted life. In short, those who Brown classifies as "Wholehearted" are those who are resilient to shame and believe in their worthiness.

Brown begins by discussing the four main myths of vulnerability and two of what I thought to be the most important points from that discussion are below.

1)  Vulnerability is not weakness

Many see those as vulnerable as too emotional and therefore weak and also associate vulnerability with emotions such as fear, shame, grief, sadness and disappointment. While vulnerability is related to these emotions it can also be the “birthplace” of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. This is why people must learn to embrace it. She also states, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

2)  You can’t go it alone

Participants in Brown’s research that lived a Wholehearted life noted that they needed support, encouragement and in some instances professional help as they “reengaged with vulnerability and their emotional lives.” Love and support can help you to make more risks, take more chances and try new things.

I found a lot of the information in the book to be valuable, but below is just one my main takeaways from the book.

1)  In order to embrace vulnerability you must become shame resilient.

Brown explained shame as the fear of not being enough. A key to being vulnerable is the ability to "show up" but if you are afraid of what other people may think, embracing vulnerability will be near impossible.

If you want to learn more or get a greater understanding of what Brown discusses in her book, check out this TEDTalk. Want to know even more? Pick up this great book after finals are over!

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Sources: 1(Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead),  2