I do not want to write this blog!
I have been planning to write a blog on Brené Brown, Ph.D., and her research on vulnerability for months now. Brené is amazing. She is a researcher studying shame and vulnerability. She has written a book on the topic, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, and has presented twice at TED conferences in 2010 and 2012. Brené’s research carries the message that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” This sounds beautiful, right? But how do I write about vulnerability without being vulnerable myself? Now you see the reason for procrastination.
Vulnerability, in Brené’s simplest of definitions, is allowing yourself to be seen. To be vulnerable would be to allow yourself an honest appraisal of who you are, right now. Vulnerability is essential for anyone looking to make a lasting lifestyle change. That is the difference between those who are in denial, and those who are ready to act. They open themselves up to scrutiny both internally and from others when beginning to seriously contemplate change.
Many will skip this contemplation step all together and avoid the discomfort of being vulnerable. They dive into action steps without much thought or planning – I want to lose 20 pounds. I’ll stop eating carbohydrates and dairy tomorrow. This approach is often met with short-term success or relapse back to old behavior.
The vulnerable approach requires further self-evaluation and strategizing – Why is it I feel I should lose 20 pounds? What does that say about me if I’ve tried to lose weight and have failed before? Why did I gain that weight in the first place? What is it about certain foods that make them so hard to eat in moderation? Why do I struggle with moderation? Why do my emotions sabotage my best intentions? What if all of this just sounds too bad and it’s not worth trying? Asking yourself difficult questions and being truthful with the answers helps prepare you to begin to overcome the obstacles in your change process.
I hear you; you may doubt the importance of contemplation. My own inner critic has been cross-examining what I’ve just suggested – do I really need all of this psychobabble to make a lifestyle change? Do I really need to be “vulnerable” when all I want to do is follow a budget? The answer is yes. To make this change, or any change, evaluating what has and hasn’t worked in the past is essential. Also, these smaller changes can be indicators of a larger problem you might be avoiding, in this example, debt. You need to be able to admit your flaws, otherwise why would change even matter?
For me, contributing to this blog has been an ongoing practice in vulnerability. One of my professional goals has been to get back to my roots as a writer, something I have studied and have always felt passionate about. I abandoned this career path because my perfectionist tendencies toward writing turned a passion into something that was stressful and I was inefficient at. Now that I am back at it, that inner critic has had a field day with doubts like, Do I not sound smart enough? Do I sound too therapisty and others just won’t get it? Do I sound like a financial phony? I’m five months in now, and I would like to say that vulnerability gets easier, but maybe I’m just getting a bit more comfortable with daring greatly.
Kate N., MS, CEAP, joined Empathia in 2005 as an EAP counselor, then became a performance specialist in 2012. Kate has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology. Kate is devoted to helping individuals determine how to make lasting changes. Prior to joining Empathia, she worked in the social work field as a case manager for Child Protective Services. Kate enjoys baking, yoga and escaping into the woods of Northern Wisconsin.