The Courage of Vulnerability


What does it mean to be vulnerable? Is it something we feel if we think we are not good enough or not worthy? Or is there something much more profound going on?

Someone who is seen to be vulnerable is often perceived as someone who is afraid of life and living, someone who avoids challenges and hides themselves away from the world. They just can’t cut it like the rest of the the tough guys in school, or college or the workplace. They appear to have chosen to be vulnerable like they are somehow pathetic or weak and have no courage. It’s interesting to note that we don’t think this of babies or children, they are all vulnerable and this is their key to exploring, learning and living life at full throttle.

Many people run from vulnerability because they fear what if might say about them, to their peers and the people they want to be respected by and even what they might think of themselves. This fear of being seen as fragile causes the ego to strengthen it’s resolve, to harden its armour to deflect failure, pain and loss.

In fact vulnerability is the very essence of our nature or our natural state, we have this as children but lose it along the way because we’ve grown up and had to toughen up.  But being vulnerable gives us the openness to allow ourselves to love, to forgive, to trust, to let go, to fail, to move towards uncertainty, towards the unknown.

Being vulnerable allows us to live bigger more courageous and compassionate lives because we are not so fixated with our imagined in-vulnerable self that we shut out the suffering and pain of others. By accepting our natural vulnerability we are alert and present in our conversations with ourselves, with others and with the world.  It’s the open pathway to connection.

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage”

Dr Brené Brown

I’m not suggesting anyone actually tries wingsuit flying but the psychology of these guys is one of absolute vulnerability, they fully accept it and this allows them the courage to jump off mountains and out of helicopters. Every time I watch a video of them I am reminded of this truth. But we are all courageous when we are vulnerable.