“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brené Brown
Two words that have held me, crushed me, and almost destroyed me.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines them as:
Shame – a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety
Fear – an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
They don’t sound good, do they? The shame of mental illness and of admitting our weaknesses holds us in fear of exposing who we really are. I don’t want to be seen as weak, unstable, inadequate. I don’t like to be vulnerable. Vulnerable…now there’s a scary word! Yet, being vulnerable is what opens us up to a world of possibilities. Definition of vulnerable:
Vulnerable – capable of being physically or emotionally wounded: open to attack or damage
That really does sound scary, doesn’t it? Yet, when we can be vulnerable, only then can we move beyond shame and fear to find courage and compassion.
Courage – mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
Compassion – sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it
It was after I became vulnerable and started to share my weaknesses, did I find the courage inside to share openly and compassionately with others who are struggling. Being vulnerable does not mean weak. It’s breaking down the walls of shame and fear.
Vulnerability is also the route to finding joy. Look at Jesus. Only by emptying himself and taking on human form, could he understand the struggles of humanity, and be able to embrace people on their level. In this he found ultimate joy, which he gives to us freely. When we become vulnerable, we find courage and compassion. Shame and fear then lose their power. This leads to joy.
JOY – the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: the expression or exhibition of such emotion: a state of happiness or felicity: a source or cause of delight
What are you going to choose today? Shame and fear or vulnerability and joy?