I recently heard Brene Brown speaking to Oprah Winfrey on OWN radio as I was driving to pick up my children one Sunday evening. Brene is a renowned researcher who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Brene was talking about being vulnerable and how the courage to be vulnerable can change the way we live, love, parent and partner. So, later that night I Googled her and discovered a Ted Talk she had done a few years ago....and it had 17 million hits. What that tells me is that many people are interested in being vulnerable, but what does that really mean?
After watching her Ted Talks on vulnerability and shame, I bought two of her books. I am working my way through "Daring Greatly," and while I am not even finished with the book, I have to say it may be the most important psychology book I have ever read when I think about how to help people live their best lives. And when I think about how to live my own best life. The book is not just about vulnerability, it's about how we shame ourselves and others out of our own fears, how we numb ourselves and how we actually try to keep joy out of our lives through foreboding its presence. It's an incredible read, but I have to admit, on some level it is terrifying, because what she is asking of us --based upon her research of those living lives filled with what she calls "Wholeheartedness," -- is to be courageous, with no real promise that our courage will pay off. I use the word "terrifying," because that is exactly what life can be.....terrifying that we could lose the people we love most in less than a second, terrifying because everything we have worked for in our lives could be taken away in a shooting, an accident, a fire..... terrifying because we could discover an incurable illness has suddenly ravaged our bodies, terrifying because someone we love could say to us "I don't love you anymore," and terrifying because we could say to someone we once loved "I don't love you anymore."
The reality of our lives is that we dance upon the edges of our cliffs every single day - even though we don't realize how close we come to the precipice, minute after minute and hour after hour. If the truth of our lives is that we are destined to someday come face to face with our mortality, that none of us has the secret potion to live forever, then why would we choose anything less than insane courage to just be who we are without our masks, without our shame, without our fear? I want to chose vulnerability and the courage it takes to be myself, to forgive myself and to love as myself -- even if I have to fight my way through it every single day. I want to be on the cliffs without the fear of falling and knowing that if I do, I danced along the edges with my whole heart and embraced joy, love and peace. If vulnerability makes me vulnerable, then love makes me lovable, forgiveness makes me forgivable and joy makes me joyful. Where in your life do you need to dance?