In her bestselling book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown explains that "you can't have true courage unless you open yourself up to vulnerability." Like many others, Dr. Brown was raised to believe that "vulnerability was weakness." Her social research of 18 years has debunked that myth and led her to discover the keys to understanding how to "show up and be seen. To ask for what you need, to talk about what you're feeling. To have the hard conversations."
In a clip from Super Soul Sunday, Oprah told Brown that her books have made her realize how vulnerability has been key to her own success. "What I realized, first of all, is I live in the space of vulnerability and that is what has made me so successful - my vulnerability with the audience." Oprah sees vulnerability as "sort of the cornerstone of confidence" because taking risks and being open helps you recognize that you're "just like everybody else. "
Brown and Oprah both support the notion that we need to practice patience with ourselves, be compassionate rather than critical and act supportively when curve balls get thrown our way. The path to courage requires that we speak to ourselves with an inner-coaching™ voice that refrains from harsh tones, explains rather than blames, resists personalizing situations, debunks the myth of perfection and rejects notions of being an imposter.
Recently I asked Sara Canuso, Founder of Women That Influence, about her own experience with courage and vulnerability. She shared that for most of her life she allowed others to decide who she was and what she was capable of achieving. "At some point I was empowered by the realization that all of my decisions may not be the right ones, and I became more fearful of allowing opportunities to pass me by because of self-doubt and fear. It was time for me to decide with faith and courage. Am I still vulnerable at times? Absolutely !!! Being vulnerable is what has opened my heart and mind to a life of freedom, purpose and abundance."
Most definitely, being with our vulnerability and staying on a courageous path is far easier said than done. It requires accepting our disappointments, our limitations, and our mess-ups. It involves tolerating our embarrassment and learning how to embody our skin rather than crawl out of it. And it entails appreciating our strengths and accepting that we can't be all things to all people.
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