I’m reading Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” right now and for those of you who know of Brene Brown’s work you know she has extensively researched and writes about essentially vulnerability, a foundational component of what she calls living a Wholehearted Life. Vulnerability is something I’ve struggled with. The ask to be vulnerable can feel like the ask to strip your soul bare, put your heart on a platter and trust another human being not to rip it apart. It’s much easier to put up walls around your heart than to open up. After all, if your heart is protected, it can’t get hurt. However, you also won’t feel, you won’t truly be alive. To be fully alive is to dare greatly, to be vulnerable, to be wholehearted. Here are a few ways to start practicing being vulnerable and daring greatly in your life.
1) Soften your inner critic demons with a self-compassion angel. Perfectionism and our inner critics are the biggest enemy to vulnerability and daring greatly. They whisper in our ear that we’re not good enough. That we shouldn’t even bother trying because we’ll fail, we’ll get rejected. Put up that armor fast! It’s instinctive and primal driven by our animalistic part of our brain the amygdala driving our fight, flight or freeze response. The way to soften that inner critic voice is with self compassion. Say thank you inner critic I hear you but that’s often for now. I’m good. I’m enough just as a I am. A soothing touch anchor here like a hand on your heart can be especially powerful combined with a compassionate affirmation phrase. If saying “I am” feels too hard, you can start with “may I”, such as “May I be enough just as I am”, “May I be kind to myself”, “May I be brave and vulnerable”. Whisper those words to yourself a few times as you would to a dear friend. Treat yourself as you would a dear friend. After all, I bet you wouldn’t let your inner critic voice anywhere near a loved one (not intentionally anyway)!
2) Do something vulnerable that scares you. The only way to start being vulnerable is to practice. If you wait until the “big” moments to try it will be much harder than if you start small and practice in little ways in your daily life. What this will look like will vary from one person compared to the next. It is basically anything where you usually have your guard up and instead you open up and are vulnerable. This doesn’t mean of course telling your life story and dark secrets to every person on the street you see – in fact that’s actually a protective guard all by itself a “whatever, I’ll tell everyone everything” attitude. Instead it’s choosing to show up, open up and be vulnerable with those you are closest to. To share a struggle instead of hiding it. To be ok being imperfect and owning that.
3)Just be you. Most importantly, be yourself. Your true authentic self. This may be the self you’ve been hiding for years for fear your would be judged and shamed, not accepted. The inner child you’ve kept locked up behind a castle wall. Let him or her out. Pursue your dreams, even the ones people told you you shouldn’t do, or told you you wouldn’t be good enough. And remember dreams and passions don’t have to be big and bold like being the most successful entrepreneur (and if that’s your dream go for it), your dream might be more quiet like wanting to life a peaceful slower paced life away from the hustle and bustle. Your dream one Sunday morning might be saying no to the get together because you want a quiet day to yourself. Honor your wants and needs and share them and then in turn honor and support the wants and needs of others. Can you imagine what our neighborhoods, communities and societies would look like if we all lived vulnerable, wholehearted lives and dared greatly. If we lived with compassion for self and others and told our collective inner and outer critics to take a hike.
“Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.” Brene Brown