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?