Making mistakes and being vulnerable–human and courageous
April 5, 2013
When I run, I listen to podcasts. One of my favorites is the TED Radio hour. TED Radio Hour compiles TED Talks into one podcast around a common theme. The talks are short and inspirational, and I always learn something to apply to life or work.
On yesterday’s run, I heard something that really resonated with me. The podcast was titled Making Mistakes, and it discusses shame and vulnerability.
Looking at the title of my post, you may not think that being vulnerable would be considered courageous, particularly in our society, which doesn’t value mistakes and risk-taking unless they become successes. Yes, to err is human, but vulnerability seems to equal weakness. Always living in the “safe zone” is just that–safe–but does it feel like living? “Dare greatly” is the last advice that Brene’ Brown gives her audience in this talk. She feels that it is important, and even necessary, to give those at home and work the arena for being vulnerable.
Brown’s talk on gaining strength from shame sees vulnerability as putting yourself out there, which encourages “intimacy, trust, and connection.” She says “vulnerability is not weakness. It is our most accurate measure of courage.” She also says that shame is the fear of being disconnected; not being worthy. Vulnerability is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” Denial of someone’s vulnerability results in that person feeling disconnected and hence shamed.
However, Brown also sees vulnerability as the “birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Putting an idea out there, coming up with something new, facing critics, and handling change all takes a level of human-ness and vulnerability. And courage. If you constantly deny or fear your inner self, and live “outside the arena”, you miss the good in life: gratitude, peace, love, the excitement from being creative, and more. And most importantly, she says you may always wonder “what if.”
Being vulnerable here: I have often felt that my vulnerability was a weakness; that I was a grown-up and should be able to handle everything myself. I have been shamed and have felt shame based upon others’ issues and not my own. I find at times that my decisions come from a place of fear, rather than from what I truly want. Being vulnerable and asking for support has not only helped me emotionally, but it has shown me that I need not be ashamed. Being allowed to show vulnerability has given me a greater sense of liberty and made me much less fearful.
Life is vulnerability. Some people will like you, some won’t. Some people just don’t care about you more than themselves. Some people are just unhappy and no amount of understanding or kindness will change that. Being vulnerable enough to be true to yourself frees you, and putting yourself out there is not just courageous, it underscores the commonness of our humanity. When you give yourself permission to have that courage, then you feel brave, and that opens up infinite possibilities.