Dare To Be Vulnerable

“What makes you vulnerable is what makes you beautiful.” When I heard Brené Brown say this in her Ted Talk on vulnerability, I froze. The simplicity of it was astounding! Although it seems like really basic advice, Brené is shaking up the world of counseling, coaching and psychotherapy with a very simple theory for building relationships: be vulnerable! And, her work shows it. She’s not super polished. She doesn’t have glamorous clothing and perfect hair. She’s just an ordinary social worker who stumbled upon something that works for her — and it turns out, it works for others really, really well too.

I participate in lots of networking groups. Many of them are online, and several of them are in-person get-togethers. In a recent meeting, a small group of us were talking about why we went into mental health. We’ve all known each other for a while, so the answers weren’t totally superficial. However, most were playing it safe. That is, until one of my friends spoke up. He said, “You know, I went into mental health because I got diagnosed incorrectly when I was a kid. It really caused a lot of problems, especially when I got into adulthood. I never want anyone else to have to deal with an incorrect diagnosis again.”

What followed his admission was almost indescribable. We all had great affinity and respect for him before, no doubt! But after he shared with us, there was an intense connection and yes, love for him. He allowed himself to be vulnerable, and suddenly we all saw ourselves in him. You can imagine that since his willingness to be vulnerable, we all feel much freer in being ourselves. We share what’s really going on for us, and we support each other with no judgment and no competition.

When we are vulnerable, we allow others to see that we are perfectly imperfect. We show them that our individual circumstances aren’t so unique, that we aren’t alone, and that it’s safe to share with us. When we are vulnerable, we create a self-perpetuating cycle of sharing authentically, relating, creating warm and friendly feelings, and strengthening relationships.

The sheer act of being vulnerable, or open to attack, is what makes us likable. In reality, it doesn’t make us more open to attack at all. It creates the fertile soil for strong, healthy relationships to grow and flourish.

Perhaps the magic ingredient for healthy relationships is more than just communication, time together, or learning one another’s love language. It seems the language of vulnerability is understood by everyone — and works a lot faster, too.

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Jeremy Savage, MA, LPC

2727 Bryant St. #104
Denver, CO 80211


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