Vulnerability and Connection Go Hand In Hand
I’m writing yet another piece about vulnerability, mainly because I was inspired to do so after listening to a very inspirational talk about vulnerability on Ted.com that was given by Brene Brown. If you feel inspired to do so you can listen to it here.
Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability and much of her discussion on TED correlates with what I would like to talk about in this blog.
Namely, being vulnerable and our inherent need to connect with each other.
Brene’s research showed that people fear, even hate being vulnerable. Yet, those who had the most successful relationships, who felt the most inner peace, who seemed to be the happiest, all attributed it to the fact that they were open to being vulnerable.
Fearing vulnerability in relationships and yet knowing that a certain degree of vulnerability is needed to have successful relationships…. I couldn’t help but ponder this.
These findings were slightly troublesome to Brene, who in her talk she admits to her own struggle with vulnerability. I’ve had my struggles too, haven’t we all? I know that whenever I start to feel vulnerable it is NOT a pleasant feeling, it’s almost like automatic pilot: my stomach gets this sinking sensation in it, and suddenly I feel as if I’m naked in front of a crowd. I want to duck for cover! Not very fun.
In a society where men are taught to be courageous, and women are trained to be strong, vulnerability is often seen as a weakness. It is not socially acceptable to appear weak. Just think about the way people feel about crying in public.
It is no wonder people want to avoid being vulnerable. I know I did. I wanted everyone to see me as a confident, strong woman. I worked in the advertising field for years, and I simply had to appear that way.
My dad ( an avid card player) always told me, “ Patty never show your hand in poker.” That was his way of showing me how to be guarded with other people, and in his words, his way of helping me to not be taken advantage of. “ Bluff, Patty…you always have the bluff, use it!” These were words I grew up by. I tried to bluff my emotions.
Yes, I held back, I stayed strong, I didn’t show my cards or my vulnerability in many situations. At some point however, I came to realize that suppressing my vulnerability, and the beliefs I had around it, was neither helping or working in my life. Actually they was suppressing me from living so many of the things I wanted.
Namely, having those connections with people.
I believe we all want to feel connected with others, and that the desire for that connection is strong. I’m not only referring to that one on one love connection with someone, but simply that common desire to share our lives and connect with people. I don’t believe we want to walk on this earth alone.
As much as we don’t want to walk alone, it can really be a deterrent to feel afraid and vulnerable.
This brings me back to the quandry: vulnerability and connection go hand in hand. To have these connections with each other that many of us desire requires a level of vulnerability, we simply don’t have one without the other. Scientifically Brene Brown has confirmed this.
And so I ask you, What is your relationship with vulnerability? It is something to think about. What are some of your beliefs around the subject.
I’m sure there are many experts out there who talk about the origins of vulnerability, reasons we feel vulnerable, and even ways for us to overcome being vulnerable.
Actually, I’m not so concerned whether my vulnerability is due to nature or nuture or perhaps a bit of both, and I am really not here to talk about ways to over come vulnerability either.
What I am here to do is to share how it is I deal with or should I say live with my own vulnerability. Vulnerability is a part of me, just as my strength is. I’m here to share my relationship with vulnerability and the freedom I continue to discover around it. It’s evolving.
I’m a vulnerable woman. There I said it. Whew!
It’s taken some practice not to cringe saying it, and yes a little release of judgment too to let go of an old belief that to be vulnerable is to be weak. I know I am a strong woman too. A lion doesn’t always have to bear her claws, sometimes she rolls over on her belly.
I won’t say that I don’t still get butterflies when I start to feel vulnerable. In fact, I have them now as I share another slice of myself with you through this blog. Consider me rolled over, belly up.
When I write, vulnerability comes with the territory, it’s like getting naked on the page each time I write. But I simply love expressing myself way too much to let my fear of being vulnerable silence me. So here I am, shining a spotlight on the subject. Talking about it does help. I’ve learned it doesn’t work to ignore it!
When it comes the subject of vulnerability, there is so much more to talk about. Definitely more than one blog’s worth…so I will simply close this one by asking you this:
Are you a vulnerable man or woman? See for yourself how it feels to say it out loud. Do you cringe?? You can be sure that I will revisit this subject.