The other day my friend, Doug called when I was working on my post for Pointless Overthinking. When I responded to his question to tell him what I was doing, he said, “Oh, that’s awesome. Send me the link to that blog.”

I did and then….<nothing.>

Did he not like my latest post? Did he not like any post? Maybe he didn’t read it? But he asked for it? <Gulp>

Vulnerability is hard.

When I applied to be a writer for Pointless Overthinking, I didn’t tell anyone in my in-person life. I was excited that I might have the opportunity to be a writer for a blog I very much admired but telling someone seemed too scary — I didn’t have the guts to admit it out loud.

Six weeks went by. Because it was well within the window of expected response from Troy, I didn’t think about it much one way or the other.

Then from deep inside, my courage to follow-up won over the vulnerability of confessing that it mattered. I sent a follow-up email to Troy pointing out how well I can pointlessly overthink. And he wrote me back within the day.

This internal struggle reminds me how much I’ve learned about vulnerability in recent years, primarily from Dr. Brené Brown’s research. She defines vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” It is where we go when things matter and yet they are out of our control. Which I believe is the heart of life.

But she has researched extensively the connection between vulnerability and courage.  “In my most recent research on courage and leadership, the ability to embrace vulnerability emerged as the prerequisite for all of the daring leadership behavior.” Or said more succinctly in one of her most oft repeated quotes, “I believe that we have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage.

Whether it is leadership, creativity or intimacy, we have to risk emotional exposure in order to show up. If something matters, it will hurt if not met with success, acclaim or acceptance. But I’ve learned that showing up always results in SOMETHING that keeps moving me forward on my journey. I’ll never be able to say that I don’t consider what this potential audience of 27,275 Pointless Overthinking subscribers might think as I write this – but I get closer to knowing what it is that I think of my effort.

And what about what my friend Doug thinks? Something I read in a book published by blogger, Julia Preston’s “Voices: Who’s In Charge of the Committee In My Head?” about her life and blogging experience gave me insight into the reactions, or lack thereof, of my non-blogging friend.

“One of the most valuable lessons that I ever learned about vulnerability is that the more willing I am to tell the truth about myself to a trusted listener – someone who will not judge me for whatever heinous crime that I believe I may have committed, the more of me there is to love. The more others trust me enough to share from within the depths of their being, the more that I realize that we’re all struggling with the same human foibles.”

Voices: Who’s in Charge of the Committee In My Head? by Julia Preston

My mountain climbing friend and former IT work colleague, Doug, isn’t a blogger or writing in any format that I know of to share his authentic life. If I took up knitting, I certainly wouldn’t expect any insightful commentary from him on that pursuit. So why do I expect it about writing?

Because to speak to anyone else, writing has to be vulnerable and authentic. Sometimes opening that vein to pour onto the page takes a lot of guts but it’s the only way to reach to others who are willing to walk through vulnerability to get to courage.

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(featured photo from Pexels)

38 thoughts on “Vulnerability

  1. I’m on my blog every day for me. It’s my outlet. That’s what I do it for. I learned long ago that you wouldn’t worry what others thought of you if you just stop and realize how often they don’t. Sounds depressing, but it’s very freeing.

  2. People pleasers like you and I Wynne have a heightened vulnerability to allow others opinions influence the perception of our own worth. I’ve learned that what matters most is not what others may think who I am (if indeed they’re thinking about me at all), but Whose I am . . . and He thinks you’re worth dying for lady.
    Keep Looking Up

  3. Hello Wynne,
    Thank you for treating us to your wonderfully rich post about vulnerability, and our fears, thereof. You share very openly; and at one time, I could defintiely relate to what you related about desiring to be appreciated–for writing, or whatever. That is so true of most of us, even when we don’t admit it. I know that I certainly felt vulnerable that way.
    During the last couple of years, I’ve experienced what you mentioned with regard to Doug and one of your articles, with the publication of my book. There was lack of interest by family and friends–but you know what? This time all was fine with me, unlike in the old days of old when I would have craved attention.
    This transformation occurred because of a deep change in “my” sense of identity. Having practiced self-inquiry (knowingly and unknowingly) for the many years, I finally arrived at the point where I knew true Self, beyond name and form. In short, I’m liberated from many of the pains and pleasures that “Art’ once thrived on–including fear of rejection. That “knowing” has made all the difference
    I’ll be looking forward to your next post. I not only liked it; I loved it! 🙏

      1. Thank you, Wynne. The lady was so generous and kind; and I did use that nickel to remind me to stay present for the rest of the trip. Thank you so much! 🙏🧡

  4. Beautifully written, Wynne. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable and hence be prepared for the consequences is not a sign of weakness but the greatest display of strength. One can only move forward if one whole-heartedly accepts that come success or failure – I’m not afraid to put myself out there. And vulnerability applies to every aspect of life. True love can only flourish when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with our partners, and rise above the fear of judgment. Those who embrace vulnerability embrace themselves in totality. And as you say understanding is often limited to a person’s knowledge and experience. Can’t expect more from them than they can give. Great post! 🙂

    1. Wow – powerfully said, Terveen! I love how you extend this to true love and say “True love can only flourish when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with our partners, and rise above the fear of judgment. Those who embrace vulnerability embrace themselves in totality.”

      Such wonderful wisdom. Thank you so much for this great comment!

  5. What a beautiful article. Like you wrote one ought to walk through vulnerability to be courageous and I believe by doing that we are in fact embracing courage every minute since it also requires courage to admit that we are vulnerable. Most of us, and I am guilty of doing it, imagine that vulnerability is a sign of weakness and will only paint is in shades that we rather not accept. But embracing vulnerability is so liberating right. It is work in progress but I’d be there someday. Thank you for this reminder.

    1. Thank you, parikhit for emphasizing how liberating vulnerability is. And that it’s ongoing work that we need to be reminded of (at least I do) over and over again! What a great comment – thank you!

    1. I love this comment, Rhonda. It’s so affirming that when we dare to be vulnerable by admitting we are vulnerable, we reach someone right where they need it! Lovely! Sending my best! <3

  6. I struggled with this for years, along with the “I’m too busy to look at…(insert creative thing I made here). My therapist explained to me, that it is the way neurotypicals say indirectly that they don’t like it, however they don’t want to hurt our feelings by telling us. That explanations has been a life-changer for me, now understanding that all these folx whom I thought were gaslighting me into trying to say I am not busy also, were actually putting my feelings first. being a person on the autism spectrum, I take things literally, and am slowly decoding NT behaviour over time. i wish someone would write a dictionary.

    1. Such an interesting comment, Jen! What if we had a Google-translate dictionary for behavior as well as language?

      Thank you for sharing the insightful decoding you did with your therapist about what others were communicating. Yes, so often we say things indirectly by not saying and it leaves a lot up to interpretation. Wonderful lesson!

  7. It is still a work in progress for me. I have a long way to go. As I blogged all January I was feeling sensitive posting on my whatsapp status every day. By day 31 I felt ai had come a long way. 😀

  8. This wonderful, insightful blog is a refresher course in vulnerability. It reminds me that another thing that I am learning is that the courage it takes to be vulnerable results in a strength and power that brings freedom from the tyranny of an ego. Vulnerability = courage = power to be who we, free of the fear of what others might think! Thank you for the reminder.

    1. That is a powerful lesson – thank you for sharing it and your other work with us, Julia!

      Funny thing – I just had lunch with my friend, Doug, the impetus for this blog. He read it, liked it and just forgot to say anything. Sometimes we are vulnerable, speak our truths and tell other people what we need — and then they can respond accordingly! 🙂 <3

  9. Vulnerability takes such courage and strength, honesty and self-awareness. It’s a journey for me, and I’m much better at it on a screen than I am in personal relationships. Baby steps…

    1. What an interesting comment to differentiate in what situations we are better at being vulnerable. I hadn’t thought of that. I’m probably better at writing about it than expressing it verbally. Fascinating! Thanks for adding this to the discussion!

  10. When I was a child my parents did not want me to cry. I did not really understand why, I think it was because they wanted me to be strong, not to show my vulnerability. As a result, I grew up and decided to cry when I feel I need to cry, as well as I laugh when I feel like laughing. Great topic and post Wynne!

    1. I love how you flipped your childhood experience around so that it informs you rather than holds you back. And that you cry and laugh when moved to – such a great example of genuine expression that you give us!

  11. I believe the ones that feel the most vulnerability are the ones who dig the deepest into themselves to find the betterment in their own lives and are able to express it the best for others to learn from. Great post

    1. Ah, what memories those phrases bring, Cheryl! I’m so glad you added that to this conversation! Yes, let’s hope those days are gone. Sending my best!

  12. I have trouble sharing my writing with others for the exact same reason. It’s hard to put yourself out there and it stings when someone says that they didn’t like it. Luckily for me I’ve been a professional photographer for a number of years and it’s helped me grow a thicker skin. Yet why do I still have a hard time sharing? I’m not really sure. Maybe because the stuff in my head is more sensitive. I’m trying to over come it either way.

  13. I really loved this post. I so agree with the growth and acceptance that comes from allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. It is also a great gift to others because it allows them to be authentic and vulnerable as well. As I grow older and with so much more I want to express and share, I realise I don’t have the luxury of time to worry about what others may think or not think of my work. My focus should be on me and my own well being and to those who respond to my work whatever it may be.

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