Vulnerability is a 13 letter word. I counted twice. But the way we treat it, you would think it was a 4-letter word. I ask people in my office all the time to define vulnerability for me.
“Being a sucker.”
“Opened to being tricked.”
“Incapable of protecting yourself.”
They aren’t wrong, necessarily. But these definitions, these instincts are based largely on what culture has taught us, and let’s be honest, our culture isn’t the most healthy and balanced.
Brene Brown, whom I love (please find and read all of her books immediately) defined vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure,” which “we face everyday and are not optional.” I’ve written before about secrets and the prison they can lock us into. If that illustration was at all accurate, vulnerability is the key that unlocks the cell.
I’ll be honest, I was struck with wanting to write about this when I saw a friend’s blog about protecting ourselves from vulnerability. I understood their post and know where they were headed, but the idea bothered me deeply and for several days. Vulnerability is not the enemy. I’ll go one step further and just come out with this: pain is not the enemy either. Boy don’t we think so sometimes, though? Pain, whether it be physical or emotional must be kept far from us and we must do all we can to avoid it. Self medicate, isolate, restrict, discipline, shield..in short, bend over completely backward to prevent this awful thing from coming at us. It doesn’t work though, does it? Backbends can really hurt. Pain still finds us. Dammit Pain!
But why?! Why must pain find us? Why must we stay vulnerable to its possibility? Because without a willingness to feel life’s deepest pains, we absolutely cannot feel its deepest joy.
Stay Vulnerable, friends.