Wait. What? What’s so beautiful about vulnerability, you might ask?
Believe me, you’re not alone. I ask myself that question almost daily because, honestly, being vulnerable can feel really, really scary. And… well… vulnerable.
Like… oh… similar to walking into class on the first day of school naked. You know that dream (nightmare, actually) where everyone else seems to have it all together and here you come walking into the meeting/class/group/etc. unprepared and wearing, um...
Or maybe some days vulnerability feels more like an aching in the pit of your stomach with the attached thoughts: “If so-and-so knew X, Y, & Z about me they probably wouldn't want anything to do with me.”
I feel most vulnerable when my mind tells me that my reputation/friendships/relationships are on the line- regardless of whether that’s the reality. Honestly, I feel a little vulnerable right now writing this blog post about vulnerability!
And that’s where courage steps in to save the day (or at least to offer some support!).
Courage is vulnerability’s companion and it seems you will rarely find one without the other. I love the way Brene Brown defines courage as “telling your story with all of your heart.”
What happens when I tell my story with all of my heart? This is what I’ve experienced time and time again. When I allow myself to be vulnerable, I create space for others to be authentic and honest. Vulnerability creates space for heartfelt connection. And I don’t know about you, but I prefer deep connection over superficial story-time any day.
If I can be brave enough to be utterly and completely myself, even in situations where I’d rather put on the appropriate social mask and fake it, I’m more connected to my values and that usually feels a lot better than faking it to fit in.
Authenticity, deeper relationships, a greater sense of connection to others… sounds nice, huh? You might be thinking, “Of course it sounds nice, but I don’t know if I have the courage to do/say _____________.” I’m totally with you. I’ve found that developing courage is like strengthening a muscle. I start with a small weight- barely 1lb- and practice with this for a while. I only increase to 1.5 lbs when my body feels ready.
It will be different for everyone, but it might look something like…
You write, uncensored, in your journal, knowing no one will ever see it.
You share something relatively minor with your best friend knowing that she will not judge you.
Even though you're embarrassed to sing in front of others, you quietly join in as a group of your friends sing a song on the radio.
You speak up in a meeting about something you feel passionately about.
You’ve always wanted to draw, but have been too scared to try it. You take a drawing class at the local community college.
You want to make some bigger changes in your life and need support. You begin seeing a trusted therapist every week.
Okay, you get the idea.
What’s been super helpful for me as I continue to develop my courage muscle, is to surround myself with support- support from encouraging friends, blogs, groups on social media, online resources, books, etc. As I continue to surround myself with people who are on a similar journey of self-love and authenticity, I feel more empowered to be myself (ALL of myself, not just the "socially acceptable" and “worthy” parts). This leads to even more heartfelt connections with others… which leads to a deeper sense of connection to myself… which inspires me to be even more courageous with the choices I make… which inspires others… who then, in return, inspire me…
And that’s the beauty of vulnerability.
Angela Marino is a trauma-informed therapist who views mental health + therapy through a holistic lens. Her approach to therapy is both collaborative and holistic, centering around her values of mindfulness, connection, embodied presence, and deep listening. She's also an artist, writer, and Kripalu-certified yoga teacher in Asheville, NC. Please visit her
at www.angelamarinolcsw.com, Etsy, YouTube,
facebook, & instagram.