About six months ago I watched a TED Talk on shame and vulnerability by Brené Brown. It really hit home. So much so that a few days later I went in search of her book on the same topic. I devoured it.
Up until this point I hadn’t put a name to the yucky feeling I so often felt. But after watching that video, I knew it was called shame.
I’ve harboured a lot of shame over the years: over my family situation, my relationships with men, my level of life success. It was like having a wet blanket over me all the time. And it made me afraid. Afraid to put myself out there and open myself up to disappointment and embarrassment and failure. Afraid to be vulnerable.
So I stopped. I stopped being vulnerable, because I thought that if I protected myself from disappointment and embarrassment and failure that I would be happy. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true. And this finally clicked while watching Brown’s video.
In fact, the only true way to be happy, as she discovered in her research, is to live wholeheartedly. What does that mean to me? It means telling someone that I miss them if I miss them, even if I might not get the desired result. It means leaving that comfortable and glamorous job that I just couldn’t find meaning in anymore. It means going on awkward first dates. And it means taking pride in doing all of these things with an open mind and an open heart, because being vulnerable is a hard thing to do, and it should be celebrated rather than looked down upon.
See, it’s important to not confuse vulnerability with weakness. Vulnerability is actually a great strength, because it allows us to live a life without regrets. And exercising our vulnerability builds other positive qualities within us, such as resilience.
Every time I put myself out there, no matter what the outcome, I build a little more resilience. See, when the result is positive it’s like “Ya, I did that!” And when it’s, err let’s say not so positive, I’m like “Ya, I’m not dead!” What I mean to say, is that I know I will survive. And I know that the payoff of putting myself out there is far greater than the life debt I incur from playing it safe.