13 small ways to embrace vulnerability

It's easy to shun the idea of vulnerability. But what if it's the key to a more meaningful life?

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  • We live in a vulnerable world. We all have vulnerabilities that we are afraid to show because they may appear as weaknesses. We all shrink from these vulnerabilities in our own ways, but Dr. Brene' Brown invites us to embrace that vulnerability as the thing that defines us.

  • She has spent much of her career researching vulnerability because she says it is essential to wholehearted living. She says, "I lost the fight with vulnerability, but won my life back." Here are 13 simple ways Dr. Brown gives to embrace vulnerability and win your life back:

  • 1. Make connections

  • "One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on 'going it alone.' Somehow we've come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we're very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It's as if we've divided the world into 'those who offer help' and 'those who need help.' The truth is that we are both."

  • "I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship."

  • 2. Don't dwell on shame

  • "Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change."

  • 3. Believe you are worthy of love and belonging

  • "Here's what is truly at the heart of wholeheartedness: Worthy now, not if, not when, we're worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is."

  • "When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible."

  • "You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging."

  • 4. Have compassion

  • "To become fully human means learning to turn my gratitude for being alive into some concrete common good. It means growing gentler toward human weakness. It means practicing forgiveness of my and everyone else's hourly failures to live up to divine standards. It means learning to forget myself on a regular basis in order to attend to the other selves in my vicinity. It means living so that 'I'm only human' does not become an excuse for anything. It means receiving the human condition as blessing and not curse, in all its achingly frail and redemptive reality."

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  • "We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time."

  • 5. Be authentic

  • "Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen."

  • 6. Do things with no guarantee

  • "To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn't come with guarantees - these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I'm learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace."

  • 7. Have courage

  • "Courage is like-it's a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It's like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging."

  • "Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen."

  • 8. Don't numb emotion

  • "We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions."

  • 9. Stop trying to be perfect

  • "Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame."

  • 10. Believe you are enough

  • "Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance."

  • "Sufficiency isn't two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn't a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn't an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough."

  • 11. Love with your whole heart

  • "We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection."

  • "Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them - we can only love others as much as we love ourselves."

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  • 12. Embrace the ordinary

  • "When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose."

  • 13. Don't be afraid to fail

  • "The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows."

  • "Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty."

  • "What would you be glad you did, even if you failed?"

  • "Talk about your failures without apologizing."

  • Vulnerability is a necessity. It is not weakness, it is strength. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable.

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Kelsey is a student studying to broaden her horizons through the written word. She loves the outdoors, family, car washes and punny witticisms.

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