WHAT WOULD YOU ATTEMPT IF YOU KNEW YOU WOULD NOT FAIL? How many of you struggle to be vulnerable because you think of vulnerability as weakness? In her book Daring Greatly, Brenè Brown, says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. While truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, they are never weakness.”
These words have been a steady source of inspiration to me as an entrepreneur and as a women at mid-life. When we allow ourself to be vulnerable we take a huge emotional risk. Vulnerability is a core emotion defined by uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. I have learned that vulnerability is not for the weak but it is the way into the light. It is the path towards change and growth. Vulnerability is totally uncomfortable. Vulnerability is being ALL IN.
When we see someone get up in front of a room and expose their vulnerability, we think it’s courageous. We love seeing openness in other people but are afraid to let anyone see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough - that what we have to offer isn’t enough - without the bells and whistles, without editing and impressing. Our “Never Enough Problem” leads us to be afraid to bring our “kitchen-table” self into exposure because we feel it’s too messy and too imperfect. We don’t like to expose inadequacies in ourselves because it’s too risky.
We silently convince ourselves we’re only capable of making decisions about our lives that will produce a favorable result, spending our lives tra
pped by the fear and shame of what other’s think about us. When we worry about the opinions of others, we waste so much time stuck in indecision fearing risk and emotional exposure. But if the only decisions we are making in life are the ones that will produce a result in our favor then we are living with a scarcity mindset. This mindset holds us back from living life to the fullest and pursuing things we never thought possible ourselves.
A few years ago, with the transformational help of a coach and teacher, I rewired the way I thought about making decisions about my life. I dropped the rhetoric of worrying about how I would be perceived and did my best to let go of a disastrous situation a few uncivil and deceptive individuals were feverishly trying to expose me to. I went all in on myself. And while I still deal with the aftershock of the post-traumatic stress the situation and individuals brought on, I left these people who weren’t willing to expose their own truths, as far behind as I could.
If you begin any decision making with the thought that you are already enough no matter the result of any decision you make, you’ll experience freedom and liberation. I adopted this mindset in 2016 and started making hard decisions that most of the time, yielded only a 50/50 chance of favorable result. I decided I was no longer afraid to make tough decisions and fail. I decided I wasn’t afraid to show up in the arena and get my ass kicked. I decided the opinions and behaviors of other people were none of my business. I knew that no matter the results of any decision I would make from that point on, I was courageously showing up in the world and for myself in a way where no amount of winning, fan-fare or honorary awards could satisfy me.
I STOPPED ASKING myself, “What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail.” And STARTED ASKING myself, “WHAT’S WORTH DOING, EVEN IF I FAIL?”
What does any of this have to do with yoga you ask?
VULNERABILITY IS THE MOST POWERFUL YOGA. To live in a body that is fully connected to its capacity for feeling means opening to being vulnerable. Remaining open is a skill that involves increasing our threshold for both pleasant and unpleasant sensations. Staying open when we want to shut down, staying open when it’s easier to walk away, staying open when we feel panicky, threatened or when the possible result is failure. Embracing your vulnerability is the beginning of creating a very different world that we can all live in.
Can you value your own vulnerability as much as you value it in others? Nothing will transform your life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time trying to evaluate your own worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands. The people who love you, that will be there regardless of the outcome, are already in arm’s reach.
The willingness to show up in the arena changes us. Each time we show up, it makes us a little braver. In her book, Brown uses the Leonard Cohen song, “Hallelujah” to draw a parallel to her work on vulnerability. She replaces the word ‘love’ in, “Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah,” with ‘vulnerablity.’ From calling a friend whose experienced a terrible tragedy to starting and growing your own business, from feeling terrified about making decisions to experiencing liberation, VULNERABILITY IS LIFE’S GREAT DARE. It’s courage beyond measure.
It’s life asking, “Are you all in?”