Brené Brown, is a research professor at the University of Houston. Brene’s big idea is that vulnerability is good for you, or as she puts it, ‘vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage’. We live in a culture where making yourself vulnerable – exposing your fears and uncertainties, taking emotional risks – is considered a form of weakness, and something most of us want to run away from. But I don’t agree and I have been working with my own vulnerability this year. It is an interesting ride and I’d like to share some of my experiences with you today.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning saying….”Did I really share that yesterday? What was I thinking?” As Brene, says, it’s like having a vulnerability hangover. It’s time for me to be real, to say what I feel and what I’m thinking. I don’t have all the language I’m looking for yet, but I have got a message to share and it’s beginning to show itself in many ways. Wikipedia states that vulnerability refers to the “inability to withstand the effects of a hostile environment.” I challenge that statement. (You can do that with wikipedia!). In becoming more vulnerable, I have actually gained the courage to stand within a hostile environment and hold my ground. A hostile environment, for me, is speaking with people who have minds and hearts that are not open to the fact that we are all one and we are all connected. See, I know deep in my soul that there is no place for fear. There is abundance everywhere. I have proven that you can change the way you think and choose happiness over sadness and once you have got that down, there really is NO going back. I’m beginning to find it easier not to start to stutter when I’m trying to explain what makes me full of joy and hope, even when people hear me speak and laugh, I mean right in my face.
We live in a ‘culture of scarcity’, according to Brené. But she’s not talking about material scarcity. How many times, EACH DAY, do we say to ourselves…”I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not skinny enough, I’m not smart enough?” ENOUGH, already!! My willingness to be vulnerable has brought me to one of my awakenings. Ihave been whining about my body for 45 years! Forty-five years. I have diminished my self-esteem, I have found myself lacking. And now…as I turn the corner to 60, I look back on my life and realize that I was always enough and more than enough. I am an amazing woman with much love and kindness to offer to anyone who comes my way. I am a light that shines on the darkness of souls. I am the human who yearns to learn more, share more and be more. Not because I need more to be fulfilled, but because I feel the joy of abundance and I want to bring more and more to my understanding and share what I now know to be true. Does my life need to extraordinary in a big way so that message can come across? No..my willingness to be vulnerable has opened my eyes to the daily joys of living…of being with family and friends….of the beautiful space in which I’m lucky to reside…to be able to walk with my husband around our property, cocktails in hand, (yes, I do) marveling at the space we have created to hold our bodies and souls…to the eyes of my dog and cat, those beautiful, loving pools of trust. This is the stuff of life. However, I wouldn’t mind some speaking gigs…just sayin’.
So, I pledge to continue to be vulnerable. It’s painful, sometimes confusing but always enlightening…this awareness that I come into each day with. I pledge to strive to achieve, continue to take risks and learn how to embrace failure. As I write the word failure, what comes to me is…I’ve got more thinking to do about failure. I’m not sure if it applies to my life anymore. Maybe failure is just the universe’s way of saying…time to take another road less traveled. See? That’s me being vulnerable again…
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech. Here are some of his words: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”