I haven't posted for a while, mostly because it has been a busy year supporting people through the wild and cruel storm of 2020. I wanted to write today as we stand on the edge of a new year and to pause for a moment to think about the power of vulnerability. I think vulnerability is something that will have touched so many of us this year. It is a difficult and scary place to be; powerless, exposed, fragile, uncomfortable and at risk of real emotional pain. It is no wonder that we try to avoid finding ourselves in that position as much as we can. Though what if I told you that vulnerability doesn't need to be scary and fearful; it can also be beautiful and courageous and lead to strength, trust, openness, hope, empathy, self-understanding and growth.
Brene Brown is an American research professor and writes prolifically about the subject of shame, courage and vulnerability. If you haven't come across her I highly recommend that you check out her wonderful Ted Talk on 'The Power of Vulnerability'
Brown believes that vulnerability is about turning up and being seen, which is terrifying when we start to think about what people around us may see or think. However when you shut down vulnerability, you also shut down opportunity! Vulnerability can lead to new doors opening and old doors closing; old doors that have caused so much pain and unhappiness and held us back in life. Vulnerability is also about challenging the quest for perfection that so many people seek. Perfection doesn't allow for vulnerability because perfection doesn't allow us to be flawed or make mistakes. Why is this not a helpful belief? Because we learn from our mistakes...that is how we grow and develop as human beings. We learn what we want, what works and what doesn't work and what we need. We learn where we want to go. We learn what and who we need to get there. We learn that being 'good enough' is what we seek; not perfection and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable helps us to get there.
What has vulnerability got to do with counselling? Seeking help from a complete stranger is the height of vulnerability. If therapy is going to be successful then you cannot avoid giving yourself permission to be vulnerable but vulnerable in the company of a trusted person who will respect, value and understand the fear you have worked through to take that leap of faith.
2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year but I hope that going into 2021 we can all be braver, bolder, more courageous, ready to make mistakes and feel the power of vulnerability!