Vulnerability. When you first read the word, immediately you associate it with weakness. It makes you feel small and useless and it stamps all over your self confidence – at least, that’s how I’ve felt. In this #YesSheCan blog, we will be looking at the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and how it discusses the power in being vulnerable and how we can reflect on that statement in our careers and personal life.
Many of us struggle with our mental health. Sometimes it can be difficult to open up to others about our experiences due to fear or worries about assumptions being made about us, especially in the workplace.
First of all, Brown highlights why we think that vulnerability is a bad thing. She links it to our modern-day culture of scarcity, which is essentially built up by three elements: shame, comparison and disengagement. You can certainly see where Brown is coming from when you look at the social media boom over the past ten years or so. We are reduced to how many likes our lives (or what we choose to represent our lives) is worth. It’s a show reel of fake, constructed slices of people’s lives that set up a space for continuous comparison, where people are either trying to keep up or one up their peers.
So it’s no wonder then that when we feel like we can’t live up to those standards, we don’t want to share our shame in fear of becoming an outcast. Social media and current society doesn’t allow for anything other than perfection, there’s no room for failure – take cancel culture for example, one wrong move and the internet will eat you alive!
With all this negativity surrounding us on a daily basis, how can we find a space to be vulnerable? Well, Brown suggests to feel is to be vulnerable, “to show up” and “be seen”. It’s calling a friend when they’re in need or starting that business you’ve dreamed of since you were little. But most of all, it’s about not going it alone. Society is driven by a neoliberal ideal that independence is the key to success, but that’s simply not the case! There’s a reason the saying ‘strength in numbers’ has stood the test of time – it’s because it’s true.
So, how can you use vulnerability in your everyday life to most benefit you? First, ask yourself what is it that you want to achieve? It can be anything from ordering something new from a restaurant to asking your boss for that promotion you know you’re more than qualified for. Ask yourself, what’s stopping me? Is it shame? A fear of rejection or judgement? Remove the “what if’s” and then you’re left with no argument. Vulnerability is courage. It’s bravery to overcome the fear and shame of the “never good enough” culture.
We all have the ability to be more vulnerable. Brown believes in the power of the imperfect in a world of invented flawlessness. It’s easy to hide in a crowd and to think being self-reliant is the definition of success. So allow yourself to fail, to get rejected, to actually feel what you’re feeling. Harness the power of vulnerability. Who knows who you’ll inspire?