Vulnerability – the Call to Courage | Brené Brown

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I remember thinking of my ongoing struggle to bond with people and feel genuinely connected during my early years. This happened so rarely that I started doubting that this was possible. A couple of times, I thought I had found someone with whom I felt a connection could be possible, but then I lost them. I started thinking I scared people off and showed too much of my true self, revealing too much of myself, so they had to run away.

This started with my parents when I was a little kid, though I wished I could have run away from them. As long as I can remember, I was always afraid to show my true self. I was always scared to be vulnerable and to allow people to hurt me. Then, I decided I wanted to avoid being susceptible somewhere on the path. I hated being weak, and I decided that I had to be the strong one. As a consequence, I started to look down on helpless people. I preferred to be strong, the one that can’t be hurt. I wanted to armour up. I wanted to stay protected. So as a kid and then as a teenager, I practised not to appear vulnerable, and later I became perfectly unapproachable, inaccessible by any other person:

They call me “The iceberg”.


… and somehow, I was even proud of it.
But I felt lonely. I was all by myself, even when I was in company.

In this mood of searching for SOCIAL in my life a couple of years ago, I saw this show on Netflix, which just hit me on the spot:

“How can you let yourself be loved if you can’t be seen? Vulnerability is the path back to each other, but we’re so afraid to get on it. We want it so bad, but we are so afraid to be seen and we are so afraid to see people. But again, it is the only way back to each other.”

Brené Brown

I knew this was true, but when I decided to open up, to be vulnerable, I got scared. It got too much, too fast. I thought about the chosen person: “Do I know if when I love you, you will always love me back? Will you never leave? What if you get sick? What if you will die? If I love you, then you will die ….”

“Love is to be vulnerable. Love is to know this can hurt so bad but I am willing be vulnerable and to love you.”

Brené Brown

I was not willing to take that risk. I was inclined not to know love more than to know hurt or grief, and that is a huge price to pay. But always, when I decided to go on and take that risk, I got shattered one way or the other, so it kept happening that I closed up again. I thought that I would be all alone again anyway. I was sure I didn’t deserve to be loved; this was impossible for me.


We all crave belonging. Brené Brown quotes that “fitting in” is the opposite of belonging.

“Belonging is belonging to yourself first. Speaking your truth, telling your story and never betraying yourself for other people. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are. It requires you to be who you are, and that is vulnerable.”

Brené Brown


And then she said something terrifying:

“Joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions. We are terrified to feel joy. We are so afraid that if we let ourselves feel joy, something will come along and rip it away from us, and we will get sucker punched by pain and trauma and loss. So that, in the midst of great things, we literally dress rehearse tragedy. Foreboding joy.”

Brené Brown

This was so true for me that it scared me off. Anyway, it was true. One day I wrote down that I am searching for the true ecstasy in life, the feeling of everything vibrating around and inside me, fully alive. The step ahead is joy – so how should I get to ecstasy when fighting joy? This way, I would never get there. I had to leap, jumping into that scary river of joy.


After that comes gratitude, and again, there is fear. Do you know the feeling of being grateful, and then you get afraid to be thankful because someone could listen and take it away from you? It is even scary to be grateful because the magnitude of what you could lose gets magnificent when you are thankful for what you have. So this perception of allowing yourself to be grateful despite understanding the greatness of the fear behind it is scary.

Why vulnerability?

Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. But why do we need vulnerability?

“It is so much easier to cause pain than feel pain. And people are taking their pain and they’re working it out on other people. And when you don’t acknowledge your own vulnerability, you work your shit out on other people. Stop working your shit out on other people. Don’t offload your hard stuff on other people. Stop it!”

Brené Brown

Sadly this is also true. Watching myself, I caught myself in situations when I was mean to people, and I only hid my weakness when I treated people not the way I should. It was often just a way to distract myself. When I was calm and accepted being tired, weak and not perfect, there was no reason to be angry at somebody else who mirrors these qualities.

You measure vulnerability by the amount of courage to show up and be seen when you can’t control the outcome. I wanted to go alone. But in the absence of connection, love, and belonging there is always suffering. Vulnerability is hard, and it’s scary, and it feels dangerous, but it’s not as hard, scary, or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves, “What if I would have shown up? What if I would have said I love you? What if I would have come off the blocks?”

Brené Brown

This touched me.

I often wondered if I should have decided in various situations to be myself and if I should have jumped from the rock of loneliness into the vast openness of life itself.

Ok, Brené, I got it.

What do I have to lose anyway?
I take you by the word, willing to be vulnerable. Here I am.

And here you can watch

Brené Brown: the Call to Courage
on Netflix:

Show up, be seen, answer the call to courage and come off the blocks, cause you’re worth it.
You’re worth being brave.”

Brené Brown

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