I really want to numb the hell out this emotion right now! I just had a hard conversation on the phone and I feel overwhelmed and sad with a dash of angry.
This is vulnerability in action. I was at the end of a ‘pass the vulnerability on’-cycle. My dad is having surgery in 10 days, he is feeling something about it and instead of naming and dealing with it, he passes it on to my mam by starting an argument. Then my mam passes it on to me by starting a conversation about a topic she knows will trigger me. That’s how we have dealt with vulnerability in my family for as long as I can remember but here’s what has changed: the cycle stops with me because I know how to rumble with vulnerability!
Let’s talk about vulnerability!
Vulnerability is the emotion attached to risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure according to Dr. Brené Brown. We all feel it and most of us want to avoid it at all cost. That is why we armor up, pass it on and numb the hell out of it.
The annoying thing is that none of these strategies actually work. If you armor up to protect against emotion you not only block the ones you don’t want like fear and shame but also the ones you do want like love and joy. You cannot selectively armor like you also cannot selectively numb. If you numb, you numb all of it. Last but not least if you pass it on, it does not change anything about the fact that you feel the initial emotion and on top of that you will probably also have to deal with a lot more emotion once the ‘pass it on’-movement comes back to you.
That is why rumbling with vulnerability is so important.
Rumbling is leaning into vulnerability and finding a constructive way to deal with it. It can be a conversation about it with someone you trust and is able to give you empathy, a comfort strategy that works for you or feeling what you need to feel and go from there. Whatever strategy you pick will need the willingness to dig into vulnerability and how it feels to you and find ways to deal with it constructively.
Before I was trained in the work of Dr Brené Brown numbing was my favorite way of dealing with vulnerability. These days, after 4 years of practicing what I preach, it is a combination of feeling it, reaching out to someone I trust and wrapping words around the experience by writing about it.
What is your way of dealing with vulnerability?
Considering tomorrow a new school and work year start and a lot of us are going to be confronted with risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure it is an important conversation to have with your partner, your kids and your colleagues! How do you deal with vulnerability as an individual will have an impact on the people around you and on the system you work in! So let this be your invitation to start the conversation and to model to the people around you what rumbling with vulnerability looks like!
Not sure how to start rumbling with vulnerability? Join the Courage Challenge, the free ecourse on courage and start developing your rumbling skills this week. You can still register here.
I wish you a courageous start of your new school or work year!