Vulnerability and grace as the path towards wholehearted living


Image Diana Simumpande

Vulnerability is big these days. It is perceived and discussed by many as a place where good stuff originates. Instead of being viewed as a weakness, it is pointed out as a core strength. It is a quality that cultivates centredness and wholeheartedness.

Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown is one of the first people who thoroughly researched vulnerability and brought it out into the open. In her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she defines it as such:

“Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the centre, of meaningful human experiences.”

She continues on with the statement:

“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 deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

Dr. Brown also draws a connection between vulnerability and wholehearted living, describing it as:

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

By all means, vulnerability seems to pop out from the shadows of negativity and be regarded as a key to living a wholehearted, centred life. A life where despite your actions or non-actions, you feel content, full and enough.

I also stumbled upon an article by the psychologist Ken Page where he portrays our deepest insecurities as our core gifts. He shares his insight:

“Over the years, I realised that the characteristics of my clients which I found most inspiring, most essentially them, were the ones which frequently caused them the most suffering.”

He illustrates his theory:

“Core gifts are not the same as talents or skills. In fact, until we understand them, they often feel like shameful weaknesses, or as parts of ourselves too vulnerable to expose. Yet they are where our soul lives. They are like the bone marrow of our psyche, generating a living stream of impulses toward intimacy and authentic self-expression.”

Again we come across the conception that what we often describe as a vulnerability or a shameful quality, is often the core of our true self and our greatest gifts. The qualities we are trying to suppress are often the ones that could lead us towards a happy and content life and relationships.

So how do we bring out our perceived “weaknesses” and start regarding them as our greatest gifts?

How do we eliminate the stigma of shame and embrace our being as it is, for what it is?

One way to do that, I read about in another article, is through therapy. In his essay Dr. Kelly Flanagan explains what professional psychotherapy provides. He beautifully describes the world of therapy as:

“The therapy room is a pocket of grace in a condemning world.”

And he hits onto a gold stone – grace doesn’t want to change us, grace gives us “permission to be our fullest selves: that complicated amalgam of mess and beauty, shame and glory.”

Grace will listen to you and welcome you with all your “flaws”. And it will reply to you with love.

When we are allowed to be ourselves, when we embrace our darkness, healing instantly occurs. Moreover, we get to see those hidden in the shadow gems that we possess. And magical things happen:

“We quit dead end jobs and start working on a teaching degree. We stop drinking and we start coaching. We quit living at the office and we invest in the life of our family. We trade in fear for boldness. We quit hiding in our homes and we start risking in the world by uncaging our ideas and our creativity. We stop waiting on perfection and we start wading into the mess.”

We are sensitive beings and for certain reasons we have become very cautious and suspicious. We’ve been hurt, we’ve been overlooked, we’ve been outrun – by parents, peers, co-workers. We have buried down our feelings.

Each one of us.

When we let the light of vulnerability and acceptance shine through the darkness of shame we encounter treasures.

Picture this treasure chest locked away for years, sometimes decades, hidden somewhere in the dark. When you present the golden key of grace and love to unlock it, the sun rays shine in and fill the chest with light. You get to see all the riches and beauty inside.

You get to see the real you.

Do you think of vulnerability as a strength or a weakness? Are you willing to accept those qualities you’re ashamed of as your core gifts? And do you believe that grace can help in doing so?

Posted by

I'm Vilina Christoph and I share my journey of healing and transformation. My awakening was triggered by the death of my mother and sister of cancer. When the feelings became too much to handle, I started documenting my experiences of dealing with depression and anxiety, coping with the loss and grief, and the general lack of motivation and joy in life.  Since the beginning of this journey of transformation I've learned compassion, acceptance and love for myself and others. My mission is to encourage others to look into their pain and take on the path of self-love. By accepting who you are with all your imperfections, by loving yourself fully with all your wounds, you find the strength to be your most authentic self and you unlock your unique gifts in the world.

7 thoughts on “Vulnerability and grace as the path towards wholehearted living

  1. I just sat down to catch up on posts in my reader and was so thrilled to find yours right at the top! As you know I’m studying another of Brené’s books and I can so relate to all you’ve shared. Brené writes in ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ that “Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment. When something shaming happens and we keep it locked up, it festers and grows. It consumes us. We need to share our experience. Shame happens between people, and it heals between people. If we can find someone who has earned the right to hear our story, we need to tell it. Shame loses it’s power when it is spoken.” This has been so true in my life. I had held onto shame for years and when I sought therapy and was able to safely share my stories I found I was able to let go of the pain that surrounded those stories. In fact, I’ve just been accepted onto a counselling course so that I can be a therapist! 😀 It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for years and this year my journey of personal development has brought me to a place of having the courage to step into what I want. I am choosing the life I want to live, who I want to be. Blessings on your journey, like-minded soul! So happy to have met you. Will share your post on mine tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your heart-warming words, Elizabeth! And thank you for sharing those articles that got me inspired to write this post. This is so true about shame – when we keep it locked up, it festers and grows. Tricky part is that this happens so automatically and unconsciously sometimes, we’re not even aware of the feelings we suppress or have suppressed. And often it happens in childhood, yes, so therapy is a good bet. I’ve never did it myself but have been thinking about it and waiting for the right moment/place/person. And well done for getting into a counselling course 😀 And well done for finally stepping into the true you, the life that you want! Blessing to you too, like-minded soul, and thanks for sharing the post, Vilina x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Playing pretend will likely put you in a life far from yourself. Unfortunately, our true selves are not always very acceptable with most of society. Getting away from what the tribe wants is still so difficult. One really has to let go and embrace their vulnerabilities for better or for worse if they want to live a life with less misery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Society has always bogged me down. I think people and humankind are one thing. Then the life and world we live in has been carefully and purposefully built by others, that small amount of people, that would like to live carefree lives on the back of most of us. Consumerism, careerism, competition, division and indebtedness are part of this current world, but perhaps admitting to each other that we are weak and are struggling will make us stronger and more connected.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like you are describing capitalism gone mad.

        Unrelated topic. When I click on your name on this blog or on my blog it takes me to your old site address which is now something else. Thought you’d might want to know. Also your Gravatar profile page doesn’t appear to list this new blog.


  3. Perhaps capitalism sums it all up. My point is we’ve been enslaved by false values and ideals, and shame and perfectionism are their babies – only breaking their chains and embracing our vulnerability with grace will set us free.
    Thanks for letting me know about blogs/gravatars, I’ll have a look at that.


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