I caught a television show last week during one of my lying-on-the-couch-feeling-sick-and-vulnerable days about the subject of vulnerability. It resonated with me so much because A) I’m a sucker for that feel-good, improve yourself stuff and B) I think I’ve spent much of my life showing that I’m vulnerable, sometimes to my demise.
Here’s the definition of vulnerable: Exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Doesn’t sound like a good thing to be and I used to think of this as a weakness but I’ve never known any other way to be. I’m one of those people who wears her heart on her sleeve and I suck at poker. I don’t know how to smoothly bullshit anyone (you know, there are people who are great at it); I only know how to be who I am.
I’ve shown my uncertainty and trusted people who have and haven’t deserved it. But I’ve gone through some amazingly wonderful and thrilling times and some dark, soul-wrenching painful ones — that’s what life is though, right?
Experiencing it all so that we can grow, learn, love, show compassion, give and receive love, trust.
From a Friend
One of my dear blogging buddies wrote this about me on one of her posts: She’s warm and vulnerable. I think that’s what I respond to the most, her vulnerability. She’s the real deal.
Thank you, Lisa! But truthfully, when I first read that, I thought to myself am I coming across as uncertain? Isn’t being uncertain a weakness? Do I seem like a wimp?
Being uncertain and imperfect isn’t very popular these days. Every image I see on television or in magazines of a successful woman depicts her as being strong, confident, gorgeous, perfect. Most certainly, not vulnerable.
Turns out allowing one’s self to be vulnerable is actually a very good thing. At least according to Brené Brown, a research professor who has spent the last decade studying those human attributes that we all share: vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame, which are all inextricably linked. We can’t selectively numb ourselves to emotions that aren’t comfortable. If we do, we don’t really experience those really joy-filled soul ones.
Being vulnerable means having the the willingness to say “I love you” first. To invest in a relationship or situation that may or may not work out. And to have the courage to be imperfect, compassionate for ourselves first (one I work on continuously), then others. We have to let go of “who we should be” in order to be who we are.
Through a decade of research, she said that people who were willing to be this way thought that what made them vulnerable is what made them beautiful. And, in believing and doing so, made those real connections with others. The real deal, not the shallow “I’ll-meet-you-at-5-for-martinis-and-we’ll-talk-about-someone-else-and-I’ll-make-sure-I’m-wearing-the-right-kind-of-clothes-so-I’ll-impress-you-connections. I’m horribly uncomfortable around that kind of thing
Vulnerability — So Attractive in Movies, But Would You Do That in “Real Life?”
Remember the movie, Say Anything? John Cusack drives up to the poor little rich girl’s house and despite them being totally wrong for each other, he holds that enormous boom-box up proclaiming his love for her with that make-my-heart-drop song, In Your Eyes blaring out of it. Didn’t even think about rejection. Totally vulnerable. Very attractive, but would a girl really want a guy to do that and would a guy really do that?
In The Departed, (one of my favorite movies), Vera Faramiga’s character (therapist) asks Leonardo DiCaprio’s character (undercover cop) — Is your vulnerability real? She liked it — a lot.
It all usually works out in fiction, boy gets girl, girl gets boy or girl gets girl, boy gets boy — whatever, but it’s when partners, friends or lovers show their real heart, the good stuff and open themselves to being loved or hurt, that a real connection is made.
Do you think we do this in our real lives — expose our vulnerability? Show our real selves? I think maybe we should do that more.
I’m leaving you with two GREAT songs to enjoy. Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes and Comfortably Numb by Roger Waters featuring Van Morrison and The Band.
Then scroll down after you’re feeling all lovely and in a good place from those tunes and watch Brené Brown on Ted Talks. I swear it’s worth the 20 minutes and she goes even deeper into this topic. Just listen while you’re doing something. It makes sense.
Enjoy and Happy Monday everyone.