I learned this week that the word ‘vulnerable’ is derived from the Latin word vulnus which means ‘wound.’ I know what vulnerable is, don’t you? Do you have any response to knowing it means wound-able?
I was quite intrigued by this. It brought images of physical warfare, where someone would have no way to hide and maybe no way to fight back. And, honestly, no weapon and no armor in the wide-open during a battle or potential battle would also be described as ‘vulnerable.’ Yet, we describe the emotion of being vulnerable….and most of us immediately know exactly what I am talking about and might even have a visceral reaction to the thought of feeling vulnerable. I haven’t met anyone yet who likes or enjoys feeling vulnerable. Most of us work hard to avoid this feeling. We build up our armor and/or we hide, right?
Brené Brown teaches that the only way to be what she calls wholeheartedness is through being vulnerable. She defines wholeheartedness as “choosing to live and love with our whole hearts.” Being vulnerable deepens our connection with others. Deep, heavy sigh inserted here.
I’m going to run with the warfare, armor, vulnerability metaphor a little more. We do not like feeling vulnerable. If we were in the middle of warfare that we wanted to end, it JUST MIGHT start with one person, putting down their weapons, and taking off their armor. Who are we at warfare with unnecessarily? Our significant other? Family? Friends? Allowing ourselves to be wound-able might begin the process of ending that warfare. Besides ending the warfare, that deeper connection (what Brené Brown says we are wired for) is the potential reward.
Vulnerability is not going to come naturally. We have to set the intention over and over again. Where can you be vulnerable today? Look for places in conversations and interactions, maybe even on social media, to try it. See where it leads you. There are risks…..EVERY SINGLE TIME! Living in authenticity is worth it, regardless of how others respond. But if they respond with empathy, love, and compassion….
If you are hearing about Brené Brown for the first time here, I encourage you to check her out. She has a Netflix special, she has amazing books, she has TED Talks, and so much more!