What if we admired vulnerable people as courageous people?

Vulnerability as a 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/adventure 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 rep 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 period in human history were civilization grew. The human race 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” as a result of attacks, deception, subjugation (class) and abuse. Vulnerability is 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 have to admit that as humans we create ingenious solutions to protect ourselves from what we fear the most.

But, no solution is ever enough. We are in an endless pursuit to alleviate anything that would make us vulnerable. We need a different paradigm. We need answers that more directly address our inherent needs for safety, security and belongingness. At the heart of this new paradigm has to be the courage to push past mind-made fears that paralyze us into a half-formed belief of vulnerability.

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 in order 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 power emerging today.

What if the very act of being wholeheartedly vulnerable was 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 so 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 mental-ized 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 is that we begin to understand the power of our heart capabilities.

Heart energy Field

Our energy field generated by the heart is larger and more powerful than most know. (See the Institute of Heartmath for their research and findings) We have the ability, through this energy field, to sense a great deal more than our five physical senses register. The 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.

What might wholehearted “vulnerability as strength” look like?

Pause to listen… for clarity, wisdom and understanding for intelligent choices
Connect heart and brain… coherence places us in our greatest potential
Knowing beliefs… and where to place our faith
Courage of convictions… leads to consistency, honesty and compassion in responses
Power of intentions… driving integrity across our thoughts, words and actions
Project love… vaporizing once paralyzing fear

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 the mind for solutions, is at hand. The opportunity open to us is to learn to live more fully with our available capabilities as human beings.

~ Coach Lane Michel