Brene Brown, a researcher out of University of Houston, has identified that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is crucial for deepening connection with others. For me, connection is central to living a meaningful life. So I want to talk a bit about what is holding us back from deeply connecting with those around us -whether they be our friends or classmates or even a stranger at the grocery store.
The thing is that we live in a culture that breeds isolation and only allows us to share parts of who we are. For example, the parts of us that are socially acceptable, the parts that appear successful and the parts of us that are economically valuable. So when we see eachother, we often only see the parts that are celebrated - and this can be beautiful, but so often this partial showing of ourselves hides things like struggle, emotion, need, and difference.
These pieces of who we are are deemed unacceptable and lead us to believe that there is something inherently wrong with us. Our inability to share them with others leads us to further believe that no one else is broken in the same way that we are. We judge ourselves for these shortcomings. We feel ashamed and unworthy and we live in fear of being found out. This not only leads to further silence around our humanity but it forces us into a constant need for improvement. We are not enough.... we need to be more... How often do we say things like "I just need to work harder... go to the gym even more... be a better mother... be a better partner... be more relaxed...". This is not to say that we shouldn't evolve, but these statements come from a place where we understand ourselves as never enough.
As a result, we become locked on a treadmill of sorts, where we strive to become more. This treadmill promises that with hard work success will come but it never relieves the need to be more because we are still not safe to show up in our entirety.
So here it is... it somehow feels dangerous and risky to show up- to be our authentic selves- the person who struggles, the one makes mistakes, raises their voice at their kids, the person who loves the wrong kind of music, clothes, and food... the person who plays singing bowls for a living.
And that's where the need for allowing ourselves to be vulnerable comes in - where we need to take the risk. We need to share the parts of ourself that push back against the rules or norms that force us to hide who we are. By allowing ourselves to open up and be vulnerable we aren't only creating a space that frees us but one that invites others to be authentic- to share the hidden parts of themselves. By being vulnerable we open up a space for really living, for more connection, more compassion, for more joy. We open up a space for others to really see us and for us to see them... We open up a space for empowering ourselves and others. That is the power of vulnerability.