In 2010, Brené Brown gave a TedTalk revolving around the concept of the power of vulnerability. She discusses the importance of expanding one’s comfort zone, and the many positive effects doing so can have on a person. Despite being quite nervous about giving the talk herself, Brown accomplished her goal of proving the power of vulnerability not just by giving the speech, but also through the response the public has had to her video. The most important effects vulnerability has on people are:
1. Vulnerability allows advancement
Of course, trying something new is always scary. Whether you’re a kindergartner on your first day of school, or a recent college graduate wondering what to do with your life, you’re most likely going to feel some unease about taking the next step forward. It’s natural, and it’s totally okay to feel this way. However, what’s not okay is letting this fear stop you from forging ahead. Expanding your comfort zone is an important step, not just for your own life, but for humanity as a whole. The most important social reforms and technological advancements occurred because a single person stepped out of his comfort zone, and ended up changing the world.
2. Vulnerability leads to increased abilities
Those who embrace vulnerability are not scared of the unknown. In fact, they strive to learn and do everything they possibly can. Instead of their inner voice telling them “You can’t do this,” their voice says “You can’t do this…yet.” They view that which they cannot do as a challenge to be overcome, rather than an insurmountable obstacle. Of course, they know it won’t be easy, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. On the contrary, those who embrace vulnerability tend to welcome challenges, and get bored when life is too easy. By acknowledging their shortcomings, they always have goals to accomplish, and will continue to grow on a daily basis.
3. Vulnerability allows openness with others
People who accept their own vulnerability are incredibly open about their lives. This accomplishes two goals: For one, being open with others results in finding true compatibility. For those with high expectations of their own lives, it’s important for them to surround themselves with friends and family who support them, and continue to push them further. On the other hand, being open with superficial friends who might not be so receptive of such behavior is a good way to weed out the toxic relationships in one’s life. Although they might be considered friends, it’s important to realize that getting along with someone doesn’t necessarily make them good for you or your life goals. It’s important to known who will really be there for you in the long run, and who’s only around for the fun times.
4. Vulnerability allows openness to self
It seems counterintuitive, but embracing vulnerability can build self-confidence. By putting yourself on stage for all to see, physically or metaphorically, such as Brené did during her TedTalk, you’re inviting your audience to comment on your performance and abilities. Of course, this can be incredibly scary and intimidating, but it can also be truly rewarding. Especially in today’s connected world, in which billions of people could be reading this right now (I wish!), it’s a given that there will be a large percentage of people who disagree with what you’re saying. Aside from the trolls obviously looking to get a rise out of you, listen to those who disagree; they’ll teach you a lot about a variety of perspectives, and will help you grow. Of course, there will definitely be those who completely agree with you, and you can always fall back on their supportive comments when you feel discouraged.
5. Vulnerability makes discomfort comfortable
Again, just writing that makes it seem counterintuitive, but the more you embrace vulnerability and the state of being uncomfortable, the more comfortable you will be with expanding your comfort zone. Confused? Sorry about that. Maybe this anecdote will clear it up: I remember a year ago speaking with a colleague on a Monday about what we did over the weekend. At the time, my boring answer was “I did absolutely nothing and I loved it.” She responded with, “Oh man, I’m not like that at all. I have to keep moving or I feel worthless.” I then found out that not only is she a teacher, mother, and wife, but she also helps run a deli. Sure, she complained about being tired like we all do, but she finds being tired a worthy trade-off for all the other amazing things she has going in her life. To her, sleeping comfortably until noon would actually be uncomfortable. And it makes sense: Why waste the life you’ve been blessed with when you can take full advantage of all of your abilities, and change the world, and yourself, in the process?
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