The upside of vulnerabilty . . .

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”  (Dr. Brené Brown,

This past Saturday I was talking to a group of Wishful Thinking Women about the topic of vulnerability, and today I was planning to post about Dr. Brené Brown’s interesting work on the topic, when I realized she will be talking about her work on Oprah’s Lifeclass this evening.

201206-orig-brene-brown-190x130“Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.  She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage,  authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her  decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that  work to explore a concept that she calls “wholeheartedness”. She poses the  questions:

How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so  that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and  worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection  that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of  love, belonging, and joy?” (

Vulnerability is about being open and honest. “When we numb [hard feelings], we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.” (Dr. Brené Brown,  It’s a key factor to living a wholehearted life, which can lead to lifelong happiness. (That’s the upside!)

Problem is, being vulnerable can be scary and may lead us to put on a thick layer of emotional armor and to limit the risks we take in life. Taking risks in the direction of our dreams is a good thing, and putting on our emotional armor might protect us in the short term – but in the long run, it can prevent us from being open to love and life, which can block us from truly connecting to others and opportunities.

So what do we do?

We can begin by hearing what Dr. Brown has to say on Oprah’s Lifeclass tonight, or by checking out some of the great links on the site, or by listening to Brené’s humorous and insightful TED talk, or by living our lives according to the 10 guideposts her research revealed. (Being vulnerable gives us lots of choices!)

10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living, from Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
2. Cultivating Self‐Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self‐Worth
8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self‐Doubt and “Supposed To”
10.Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

Let me know which ones work for you!

Next week we will be talking about Brown’ take on authenticity, which is another wonderful way to live!

Until then, remember . . .


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