The Courage to Be Vulnerable

By Rochelle Lloyd

Vulnerability—the ability to be vulnerable. It rears its’ head in many different forms and for the vast majority of the population we must work with it on some level and in some situations. Of course, that depends on the person. For some, it is a minor nuisance that comes up periodically and only in a few situations. For others it is a debilitating fear that controls nearly every aspect of their lives. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

What exactly does it mean to be vulnerable? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it’s defined as: 1) capable of being physically or emotionally wounded and 2) open to attack or damage. It’s no wonder that, even subconsciously, most will do all in their power to avoid being vulnerable. Most of us would say, “no thank you”. Yet, perhaps it is not only one of our greatest fears and avoidances but can also be one of our greatest assets in our ability to be human. As Brenѐ Brown puts it, “The definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage.”.

Yes, I know. At the moment there are those of you who are literally yelling WHAT!! YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!! or have inadvertently taken an emotional step back as if to distance yourself from any chance at being vulnerable. That’s safe, so says our subconscious. If we keep our guard up then we won’t be hurt, we won’t be wounded, we can put on our proverbial “armor” and let nothing penetrate the inner sanctuary of our heart and soul. That is sacred ground that no one, not even ourselves sometimes, be allowed to enter. However, as Einstein said, “A ship is always safe at shore, but that is not what it’s built for.”.

There are two sides to every coin, in essence it is the law of opposites or polarity. Whenever we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to something else and vice versa. If we choose the “safe” route of never allowing ourselves to feel, or to be vulnerable then we will keep ourselves out “harm’s” way. On the flip side, we will never know true joy, love, compassion, trust, mercy, forgiveness, gratitude, or peace. We will also never experience true freedom as we will always be kept in bondage to our fears. It’s what also keeps us “stuck” in our ability to create and innovate in our own lives and in society as a whole. Again, Brenѐ Brown stated, “…vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”. If we want things to be different, we must be vulnerable.

So, what were you “built” for and how is being vulnerable courageous? Excellent questions! As to what you were “built” for, that is for you to discover, for you are unique and have a unique purpose on this earth. However, I am certain that you were meant for greatness and success. How do I know this for certainty? We were all created by God and it is because of that fact that we have the seeds of creation and innovation encased in the very cells of our beings. He loves us, He wants us to be successful, He wants to help us, He wants to give us the blessings we desire and which bring us closer to Him. He is a good Father.

Now to the question of how vulnerability is courageous. When one is truly aware of the risks yet chooses instead to try and benefit others that is courageous. When we give of ourselves without any thought of what we receive in return that is courageous. When we choose to let people see that inner sanctuary, we can create a connection which touches another human soul. We can, perhaps, give them the hope they may desperately be looking for. That is courageous. When we are emotionally mature enough to take that vulnerability and turn it into something of true value, we are shedding our security blanket of fear and choosing to boldly reclaim our personal freedom. That is courageous.
In the end, when we choose that kind of freedom, it won’t matter what others say or do. We have the power of a beautiful self-assurance within us that we are becoming what we were “built” for and we are co-creating our lives with God. As our weaknesses can become our strengths, perhaps vulnerability can move from one of our greatest fears to becoming our greatest assets. The question only remains if we have courage enough to be courageous.

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Kayli Householder
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