I talk to one of my very close friends who lives in Australia every single day and our conversations revolve around the usual topics: life in general, work, our struggles and of course, love.
A few months back we were talking about the concept of vulnerability and I said that I don’t like people to see me cry, nor do I like exposing my emotions freely. When she asked me why, my answer was simple:
I see vulnerability as a sign of weakness.
Or more specifically, I see my vulnerability as a weakness which people will judge me on. I don’t have a problem with anyone else being vulnerable and I certainly wouldn’t regard theirs as a sign of weakness. Hmm… interesting I know and very, very contradictory. It seems I have double standards when judging myself or when I compare myself to others.
To cut a long story short, my friend suggested a book she’d recently read called, ‘Daring Greatly,’ by Brené Brown. This book, she said would challenge me and most probably change my entire view on vulnerability.
She was right.
I had trouble finding the book in Japan, so when my mum came to visit recently she brought it with her. I started reading it straight away and am now more than halfway through it. I must have been focused so intently on what I was reading, I didn’t notice that I was “hmming” and “haaing” to myself. My mum said, “I haven’t seen you so interested or focused on a book in years. You’re really enjoying it!”
I posted on Facebook the other day just how much I loved it and many people commented that it had sparked their interest and they were now going to check it out and read it.
Here are just a few things I’ve discovered about myself since reading it and also, some quotes I’ve found particularly relevant to me and perhaps, life in general.
– In order to cultivate love, I need to show people my vulnerability. Rather than running away from it, research has shown that someone will love you not despite your vulnerability, but because of it!
– I can now see that I am attracted to people who are vulnerable. Interestingly enough, most of these people are ones who don’t show their emotions freely and I see myself as someone who can ‘crack’ their hard shell/armor to get to the ‘real’ person underneath.
– Connected to the point above, my friend suggested the ‘shadow’ possibility, meaning that I see my own self, mirrored in these people.
– “Fear and vulnerability are powerful emotions. You can’t just wish them away. You have to do something with them.” p.98.
– “Remembering that shame is the fear of disconnection- the fear that we’re unlovable and don’t belong- makes it easy to see why so many people in midlife overfocus on their children’s lives, work sixty hours a week, or turn to affairs, addiction…” p.109.
– “It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it that makes a difference.” p. 147. So when I go to do something that could ultimately be self destructive, I now ask myself: Does it nourish my spirit or is it a temporary ‘Band-Aid’ that stops me from thinking about difficult emotions that I don’t want to deal with right now?
What I like about the book best of all, is that despite being written by a research professor, she allows herself to be human and shares stories of her own vulnerability. She doesn’t sound ‘preachy’ and best of all she struggles with these things daily, just like the rest of us. It’s nice to know we’re not alone. 🙂