Brene Brown caused a big stir when she stood up and started talking about her own vulnerability. As she candidly put it in her TED talk, she did not think that she was supposed to feel vulnerable. Only to discover, that she actually was missing out on some of the best of life—namely intimacy—by being unwilling to surrender to being vulnerable. I am so grateful for her efforts to make the world a little more real and a little more humane.
It takes a lot of discipline to open up when you feel threatened but that is just what vulnerability asks us to do. It asks us to let go of our pride –our need to be right—and open to the greater truth of ourselves, the other, and the situation. When we are vulnerable we loose the stranglehold of our lesser selves. Vulnerability requires that we are able rely on a much deeper and stronger part of our self –one that is not caught up in our ego.
Let me describe the process:
It happens all the time! I get myself into a situation where I can feel myself armoring up. I feel judged, disrespected, misunderstood. It does not matter what the specific situation is, really. Just that I can feel it coming on. This intense desire to protect myself -sometimes, at all cost. My heartbeat goes up, my muscles tense, my thoughts start running away, taking my rational self with them.
I know that nothing good can come with this approach but, it is so automatic sometimes. Can you relate?
It takes everything I’ve got to remember that my reaction is causing the problem not protecting me from it. I remember I have nothing to lose but my pride and I let go. My breath deepens. My muscles soften. I can feel my heart open up. NOW, I can make something good happen.
Now let’s break it down step by step:
Why is this important?
I am going to give you two reasons why this is so critical to our overall fulfillment in life. First, we are unable to develop real relationships that are deeply caring and intimate if we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Second, if we need to pretend that we are not vulnerable then our whole life becomes a charade. We have to work all the time to keep up appearances and in short that makes us miserable.
Short and sweet summary: If you want to be happy, learn how to be vulnerable.
Tune into this weeks Real Answers Radio for more on how to create meaningful relationships through vulnerability. The show is always live and your questions are always welcome!
Plain and simple, the reason that we put up a defense is because we have been hurt by something similar to it before. In fact, research is showing that these past hurts stay lodged in our genetics and even get passed down the family line. Knowing what is safe and what is not safe is essential to our survival.
Unfortunately, it is also often in the way of our happiness.
I actually don’t recommend that anyone tear down all their walls. However, I think it is very important that we learn how to dismantle them or at very least build a door in them. So, what does this look like?
The number one way that you can create more intimacy is to foster an attitude of curiosity. It is so easy to assume that we know exactly what is going on, what someone’s intention or motivation is, what they were thinking, how it is supposed to affect us. As soon as we do this, we have left the present moment and we are making decisions out of all of our past experience.
To cultivate curiosity in your life and with others it is also important to cultivate trust. We need to be able to trust ourselves in order to be curious in our lives in general and we also need to establish trust with others in order to be able to be curious rather than guarded with them.