What if we admired vulnerable people as courageous people?
We are continually in pursuit to alleviate anything that would make us vulnerable. The result has been endless conquering. Dominating our competition. Dominating our fears. It has never been enough and never will be.
Through this mostly unconscious drive, inherent human powers that appear now to be our bigger super powers have been neglected. It is time for a different paradigm that more directly addresses our deeply motivating needs for safety, security and belongingness. At the heart of this new paradigm is growing intuition, emotional intelligence, intentional choice, connected empathy and… don’t panic… love. The opener is vulnerability.
Vulnerability as Strength
People love acts of courage. We hold up courageous people as examples to become, whether they are real life or fictional characters. Acts of courage strike awe within us. They cause our minds to race to understand how these people were so brave. We enjoy the stories of feats of strength. Just look at revenues for action films and you’ll see that “acts of courage” is big business. When people feel powerless, witnessing courage can spark us to regain, renew or source our own power. Whether a lifetime of courage or an act of courage, we honor and embrace the power harnessed by courageous people. Role models for courage that might come to mind rarely include someone who was so deeply vulnerable that they appeared invincible.
Vulnerability got a bad rap right from the beginning.
The word “vulnerable” first appeared long ago in old Latin. As you might think it meant wounded, weak or at risk. This was also the time in human history were civilization grew. Humans began to be increasingly co-dependent not just for living, but for life. Initially, the definition was addressing physical and mental states but then over time a person’s emotional state and even spirit have been included. Often, at the center of a developing world, being vulnerable meant experiencing both real and perceived scarcity. No matter which continent your ancestors came from, all have experienced varying degrees of scarcity as civilization grew. People have been “vulnerable” because of attacks, deception, subjugation (class) and abuse. Vulnerability was associated with powerlessness, shame and grave uncertainty. It has elicited emotions of defeat and resignation, depression and guilt, shame and loss.
Each of us in our lifetime will experience these seemingly powerless situations. They are fearful times in our lives. Our self-defense mechanisms are highly tuned to react when we are wounded, weakened or at risk. Our reactions are deeply encoded from our ancestors and human experiences. To protect ourselves, we create complex emotional, mental and even physical shields to ward off and handle being “vulnerable”.
We must admit that as humans we create ingenious solutions to protect ourselves from what we fear the most. But, none of these solutions is ever enough.
Acts of Vulnerability are Courageous
The courage to make a choice where there is no right answer is being vulnerable. Staying connected to your heart when all about you are in their mind is accessing the power of your vulnerability. Preventing your ego self-defense mechanisms from taking over your thoughts, words and actions is living vulnerability. When experiencing intense heavy or negative emotions and still pausing reactions to more consciously choose a response is accessing your strength to be vulnerable. Rewarding, praising, honoring another person who is searching for heartfelt answers to their woes is recognizing a new human super power emerging today.
What if the very act of being wholeheartedly vulnerable is the solution?
Brene Brown has researched human connections for over a decade. If you have not seen her TED Talk on vulnerability, please make that personal investment. You will gain understanding to much of what is leading to a very significant shift in human potential. In Brown’s work, she has coined “wholeheartedly” as the word used to describe people who are able to live and thrive from a place of vulnerability.
We have mentalized vulnerability. As a result, we half-heartedly walk through our daily adventures. We ignore the immense power we have to fully utilize our ability to unify, trust, believe and commit to what we know in our heart is right and true.
What is so very important right now is that we harness the power of our heart capabilities. Our energy field generated by our heart is larger and more powerful than most know. Each of us generates an electromagnetic field of more than three feet (more than a meter) all around us.
Extensive peer reviewed research led by the Institute of Heartmath over the last 25 years has demonstrated and uncovered tools we inherently have as humans through this energy field to sense a great deal more than our five physical senses register. Our heart field provides earlier and faster detection of events that could be a threat. We feel through our heart (i.e. “heartfelt”). These feelings are taken by our brain and turned into reactions and emotions. Our mind at its most basic level works very hard to protect us from perceived threats, while pursuing our human needs ranging from safety to love and esteem. It turns out that our mind is much more effective at that job when in coherence with our heart. Science has demonstrated the foundation that being wholehearted is an optimum state of performance as a human being.
What might wholehearted “vulnerability as strength” look like?
- Pause to listen… for clarity, wisdom and understanding to make intelligent choices
- Connect heart and brain… because coherence places us in our greatest potential
- Know beliefs… to source what drives us and where to place our faith
- Courage of convictions… leads to consistency, honesty and compassion in responses
- Power of intentions… for driving integrity across our thoughts, words and actions
- Project appreciation… to harness our real super power vaporizing once paralyzing fear
Do we have the collective courage to push past a history of mind-made fears that paralyzed us into a half-formed belief about vulnerability? Perhaps we weren’t ready to move beyond reactions to fear until now. Increasing education, more time available to explore our consciousness, and growing dissatisfaction with living powerless are all driving a new vulnerability paradigm. The time to live first from our heart, then harness our connected mind for solutions, is at hand. The opportunity open to us is to learn to live more fully with our inherent ignored but available capabilities as human beings. Vulnerability turns out to be a much better and bigger capability than we thought. The powers we truly need now are within our reach.
Elevating vulnerability as a courageous act will produce best practices and capture imagination. You can bet that early adopters of the vulnerability super power are already advancing. Look for role models of this new courage. You’ll find them in people not afraid to embrace their masculine and feminine sides openly. You’ll find vulnerability in moments of heartfelt truth and in acts of faith, love and appreciation. You’ll find it in the new era of leadership that embraces coaching over managing. Just look. Be curious. Then muster up your own brand of vulnerable courage.
Who have you witnessed harnessing vulnerability as a strength?