Being Vulnerable, Part 1

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deep and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

—Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

I find opening up and sharing myself publicly very difficult. I used to stand up and deliver a sermon every week. That’s not the same as really being vulnerable.

I am currently reading Brené Brown on the subject of vulnerability. If you have never read her, I highly recommend it. I’m Daring Greatlylearning much on the subject of shame, and how we learn to protect ourselves from feeling it, talking about it, facing it. How we confuse it with embarrasment, humiliation, and guilt. How men and women experience it very differently. Ms. Brown has much to teach on the subject, and I would like to pass some of it on here.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love.” That’s really true, isn’t it? We can’t really experience connection until we open up to someone else, but opening up to someone else is risky. Other people, especially our closest family and friends, can sometimes be the most prone to judging our deepest fears, longings, and dreams. We can easily be trampled, and so we learn to protect ourselves by detaching, avoiding, getting busy with tasks, or numbing the pain somehow.

We all need connection. We are hardwired for it. And yet, we sabotage our own connection by judging ourselves (I shouldn’t need to ask for help) and judging others (he’s being weak right now).

I am taking a look at getting involved in my UU fellowship more this coming year, and more publicly. The prospect of doing this immediately brings fear, like a ball of lead in the pit of my stomach. The exposure will be uncomfortable. And yet, I know I have gifts to share with people, and the idea of sharing and connecting around art, music, and evolving spirituality really motivates me.

Even starting this blog was a big step of vulnerability for me, but I am finding out that it does bring the accountability and the authenticity that Ms. Brown talks about. I hope that I can bring that authenticity to the table in the coming year in my teaching, my involvement at the fellowship, and in my relationships.

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