The power of vulnerability

How a researcher discovered that people who chose to be more vulnerable experienced more happiness!

Brene Brown, a researcher, author, and public speaker, studies the power of vulnerability, empathy, and other relational issues. In her research, she found that those who chose to be more vulnerable experienced more happiness than those who opted to be more guarded. It seems counterintuitive, but this appears to be a pattern for most worthwhile things.

Ms. Brown also emphasizes the power of shame in our lives- such as how it drives us to make certain decisions versus others. In our American culture, we are bombarded with messages about ideal situations, and are expected to take that information and immediately know how to use it. We are supposed to care more about what we have left to do than how far we have come. We are expected to idolize perfection and reject imperfection for the sake of progression. Not only does it seem like the universe expects this from us, but we also expect it from ourselves. So, what happens when we inevitably fail to meet these unreasonable, unrealistic expectations? According to Brene Brown, what we then feel is shame.

Brown suggests that when we carry guilt, we believe our mistakes make us unlovable, unworthy to be a part of society, or unworthy of ultimate pleasure. So, what would happen if instead of trying to avoid vulnerability, we embraced it? Brown says that “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” It seems intriguing, doesn’t it? To allow ourselves to be vulnerable means that we have the courage to do so.

man in self examinationThere are countless moments every day that can facilitate vulnerability. However, if I could suggest one way to let go of shame and instead allow vulnerability, it would be simply to tell your story and own it.

• Why are you where you are, now?
• What have you experienced?
• What mistakes have you made?
• What challenges have you conquered?

Answering these questions honestly, openly, and without apology or sugar coating.

My experience and results from doing this have been phenomenal. Not only have I expanded my support system, but I have also connected deeply with many others. This connection is something that I never before understood, and I now understand how fulfilling these moments can be for me and my relationships.

Since starting to tell my story years ago, and my more recent efforts to be authentic and welcoming moments of vulnerability, I can see my progress happening almost effortlessly, and feel motivated to make the changes where I can. It seems risky, but so far, the reward has been greater peace and deeper relationships.

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