What is Your Relationship to Vulnerability?

I recently watched a TED Talk by Dr. Brene′ Brown, who has studied human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love – for many years. (Link to TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html) She was most interested in the people in her studies who easily experienced connection and intimacy with others. What she discovered is that they have an underlying sense of worthiness based on a strong sense of love and belonging. She found them to be wholehearted and to have the following qualities:

  1. The courage to be imperfect.
  2. The compassion to be kind to themselves first then others.
  3. An authenticity that helped them connect to others.
  4. The vulnerability to say “I love you” first or to do something with no guarantee of success.

So, I asked myself, what is my current relationship to vulnerability, as this has always been a sticking point with me. Maybe you can relate to this. I reflected on the fact that for a good part of my life almost anytime I wanted to say something in a group, I would imagine being ridiculed (a common experience for me as a child) and not say a word. Just imagining being ridiculed was enough to trigger my shame and keep me silent. I wanted to avoid even the possibility of someone ridiculing me in any way. As a result, I “edited myself out of existence”. For me, and for most people, being vulnerable was paired with shame.

Fortunately, I have experienced a lot of healing in the past 20 years and now can more fully speak up and show up. I’m not so afraid of someone not agreeing with me, and I’m even less afraid of being ridiculed (not that either of those fears have completely gone away). I now have the strength and support of my spine, pelvis, legs and feet to help me stand up and speak up for myself, especially when I’m nervous or uncertain. Shame can still crop up from time to time, and I more easily recognize and name it, which helps to diffuse it’s power. Now, I trust that I will be okay, no matter what the outcome. The result is that I have more connection, love and success in my life, as I now show up in a very different way than I did before.

What is your relationship to vulnerability? How does this affect your ability to connect to others and to be successful in your life? Are you living the life you really want or just playing it safe and small?

Here’s a tip for increasing your comfort with vulnerability. The next time the situation calls for vulnerability – perhaps you want to tell your boss you deserve a raise or you’re going to  speak in front of a group or you want to tell your partner something important about you– ask your heart and gut for guidance. Feel your feet firmly planted on the ground. Allow your breath to easily move in and out of your body. Know that your body  is fully supporting you in taking this important step. Remember, be compassionate with yourself as you take this courageous step.

I’d love to hear about your relationship with vulnerability – where it’s easy and where it’s hard. As always, share as much or as little as you like.

In the meantime, know that your body is ready and willing to help you navigate your life.


Joan Brooks, Certified Rubenfeld Synergist

DBA Healing Hands Healing Heart

Practitioner and Teacher of the Rubenfeld Synergy Method – www.rubenfeldsynergy.com