A woman and a man meet at a party. After a few highly enjoyable dates, she takes a heart and says: “I love you.”
A young teacher finally receives the call she was urgently waiting for. She answers the phone full of joyful expectation: “I am sorry to inform you that we decided for a better-suited applicant.”
A father is getting older. His physical impairments bother him. After climbing a few stairs, he asks his son: “Can you help me?”
Do you know what these moments have in common?
They all describe vulnerability.
Whether we need help from others, share our deepest emotions or face rejection. People are vulnerable. We live in a world full of vulnerability, and we are faced with situations like this time and time again.
Nobody wants to be vulnerable. We try to prevent moments of vulnerability as good as we can. We wait for the other one to say “I love you”. Likewise, we avoid situations where we might get rejected.
We try not to show our weakness and do not ask for help unless we have to. If we can avoid these situations, we will. Because nobody of us wants to be disappointed or feel rejected. We feel safer when we try to avoid pain. Avoiding pain is a natural reaction.
Alternatively, we try to hide our vulnerability. We pretend something did not touch us. We play it cool.
Or we set out to control every uncertainty in our lives. To control and perfect it. And to not allow any more vulnerability into our life.
I recently watched a Ted talk of Brené Brown about vulnerability. She shared her findings from 10 years of research.
I came to an important realization (for life) that I would like to share with you:
Brené Brown interviews thousands of people and came to a surprising conclusion. The people she interviewed can be categorized like this:
What is surprising is that the main differentiator between the two groups is the level of vulnerability. The people who live a fulfilled life are far more willing to risk being hurt.
These people have the guts to say “I love you” first. They are not afraid to ask for help. They continue to write applications, knowing they might just get more refusals. Not only that, but they dare to present themselves just like they are: imperfect.
It's not that being hurt pains them less. They just accept it as a normal and necessary part of life. And they believe that what makes us vulnerable is also what makes life beautiful and precious.
To be brave, vulnerable, and imperfect. This way of life has another advantage: Others will perceive you as authentic. They feel they know who you really are, and that creates trust and connection. It makes it easy to connect with us.
Freely adapted from Brené Brown: Vulnerability is the source of fear and insecurity. But at the same time, it is seemingly the birthplace of love, connectedness, joy, creativity, and luck.
Avoiding vulnerability, therefore, is the wrong attempt if we want to live a fulfilled life.
Perhaps you ask yourself right now: “How do they do it?” “How do they deal with hurt and accept that they are imperfect and vulnerable?”
Brené Brown found an answer to that as well.
The main difference between the two groups is that the first group has a great feeling of self-worth. That is the secret sauce. They are confident that even though they are imperfect, they deserve to be loved.
That allows them to show their vulnerability and accept it as part of life. To be able to allow vulnerability, you obviously have to have a healthy amount of self-esteem. And the belief “I am enough.”
If you feel that could be a problem for you – do not worry. The feeling of self-worth can be (re)trained and (re)gained. Refer to this free extensive webinar (do not let the name fool you – it's just what you need to raise your confidence and feeling of self-worth).
It pays to allow vulnerability. Be brave and dare to show your imperfection.
Your reward will be love, joy, creativity and deeper connections with other people.
Being vulnerable, at the end of the day, just means that we are alive.