There are times when an act of vulnerability perfectly fits the moment. A wedding, a funeral, a long-awaited reunion, even a deeply meaningful apology are all considered socially acceptable places for showing openness. While these venues are well known for being safe havens— because of the important role vulnerability plays in them—there are countless others where vulnerability is just as easily dismissed and thought of as a show of weakness.
However, the core act for showing vulnerability is courage. The definition of vulnerability itself is “a state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally”. Having the courage to step outside of yourself to admit wrong, inability, and even self-doubt is what enables us to break down barriers, manage misunderstandings, and overcome hardship. To know courage is to witness vulnerability in action as a show of strength, not a sign of weakness.
As we enter a new phase on a global scale, we’re faced with mass acts of both courage and vulnerability. Collectively we’re challenging one another to change behaviors while simultaneously returning to a sense of normal so that life can continue. Whether you’re the first out the door with a mask in hand, or lingering longer at home to offset the potential impact in your area—you’re acting out of courage. Make no mistake, this is a venue where vulnerability is absolutely needed to understand the potential impact we have on one another.
Take today to think about what in your life takes courage. What about you at this moment needs a show of vulnerability? What do you need others to know about you and your willingness to be physically vulnerable? In turn, when others demonstrate their needs for safety and stability by either returning to public life or staying at home a while longer, how will you respond? Instead of anger, aggravation, or assertion; perhaps it’s a show of emotional vulnerability that will help others understand the future that you’re facing.
As the world starts to take a few steps forward towards its own vulnerability, don’t be afraid to ask others to act with courage based on your own susceptibility. When we open ourselves up for the potential of attack, we run a great risk not only to ourselves but to others who rely on us. However, it’s within that moment of vulnerability where we’re able to learn, adapt, grow stronger, and move forward—together.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
– Brené Brown
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