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Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability is something I’ve never been comfortable with. But let’s face it; we are all vulnerable to circumstances and people in life, so what I really mean is showing vulnerability. Much of who I am or perhaps who I imagine myself to be is someone in control, strong and unfailing. It has been in the context of relationships and friendships where I’ve encountered the misgivings of this approach. 

Over the years my good friend John has often reminded me of Bruce Lee’s wise words: “Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

He would cite parts of this quote within the context of a situation where I was being unnecessarily “strong” or perhaps proud. We can get caught up in notions of being “strong”, “having opinions”, or being “independent” all of which are well and good if appropriately placed.

But, there is an equally important place for vulnerability. I remember what a revelation it was for me to consider that showing vulnerability could actually be a sign of strength…and I suppose that my difficulty being in that place is testament to the fact that strength is much of what it takes.

There is a wonderful TED talk by Brene Brown that discusses the power of vulnerability. I’ve watched it several times, and each time I’m more inspired to go to that place where there is admittedly no control, no certainty, and no guarantees…but only character and closeness to gain. In fact, Brown argues that "vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage." So as much as I dislike it, I'm working on embracing it.

How do you perceive vulnerability?


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