Updated: Sep 27, 2021
My recent audio book The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown left a powerful impact on me. In my previous post, I have talked deeply about How to deal with failure using vulnerability. Read the article here. In this post, I will talk about how to be more vulnerable. According to Brene, Vulnerability leads to more whole-hearted living. Following are the ways you can achieve it-
1. Cultivate authenticity and let go of what people think
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are.
Choosing authenticity means to cultivate the courage to be imperfect, setting boundaries, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.
The Authenticity Mantra that the author recommends is - "Choose discomfort over Resentment".
2. Cultivating Self compassion and letting go of perfectionism
Self Compassion is Self Kindness which means telling things to yourself that you would say to others. Brene points out that the shame you are experiencing is something someone else may also be experiencing on this planet. So always remember you are not alone. For this, practicing mindfulness will be of immense help. Mindfulness is allowing yourself to feel what you are feeling but not to overly identify with it. Brene stresses to let go of perfectionism as beneath the striving of the need to be perfect lies shame and fear of criticism. In order to shield ourselves from shame, criticism & judgement we try to be perfect. And when despite being quite there, the perfectionism thing doesn't work, instead of it breaking our illusion, we try to be more perfect.
3. Cultivating gratitude and joy and letting go of scarcity & fear of the dark
The author compares Gratitude with the Yoga Attitude. You may have an attitude towards Yoga but only when you practice it will make all the difference. Similarly, you may intellectually believe that Gratitude is important for living well but practicing it only will make the difference. The more grateful you are, the more abundance you will attract which will help in letting go Scarcity mindset and fear.
4. Cultivating intuition and trusting faith. Letting go of the need to have certainty
Intuition is the gut instinct and also experience. We develop intuition the more we are experienced. Hence trusting our inner instinct comes from having faith in ourselves and the workings of the Universe. Also she highlights our obsession with certainty. But the reality is, everything in life is uncertain. The more we are accepting of that, the more easier it becomes to live whole-heartedly. She says, intuition is a combination of Experience, faith and instinct. Faith is the place where we believe what we cannot see and we let go of the fear of uncertainty.
5. Cultivating a resilient spirit and letting go of numbing and powerlessness
Resilient people know who they are and don't try to be someone else. They don't shield themselves from pain.
Numbing is the shield we use to avoid pain, to escape from the present moment, it can be beyond the traditional addictions, like drugs, alcohol, money, sex, shopping, video games, social media etc
Numbing gives no pleasure, when it's done you feel guilty & you don't feel replenished.
Comfort on the other hand can be taking a break for pleasure, you feel replenished after that and don't feel guilty.
6. Cultivating Creativity and letting go of comparison
Creativity is something that gives everyone joy. When we compare ourselves and our journey with others, we limit our creative ability. Hence to live more joyfully, one should take out time for creativity and focus on our own journey rather than comparing it with others'.
7. Cultivating play & rest & letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol
Common data of violent offenders and criminals is restricted play. The opposite of play is depression.
Properties of play
A. Time spent without purpose
B. Something you don't want to end or you lose track of time
C. You lose your hyper sense of self consciousness
Brene talks about the importance of having rest and sleep of 7 hours. The lack of which can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer etc. We do not rest because of the scarcity mindset. We are a culture obsessed with how exhausted we are. It adds to our status that the more busier we are , the better we are doing in our lives. But one should pause and reflect on these scientific studies of how detrimental these practices could be. We can sense our obsession with the kind of questions we ask people. Most of the time it starts with What do you do? Instead of asking "what do you do?", one should ask "what do you Love?". Read my previous article on living a slow life.
8. Cultivating calm & stillness & letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
As per author's research, Anxiety is a group function. It is contagious. Two types- anxiety - over functioning and under functioning. Anxiety is a shame trigger
Calm people do following
2. Ask questions
3. Ask - do we have enough data to freak out , if yes, then would freaking out help?
Calm is creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity. You are responsible for the energy you are bringing in the room.
9. Cultivating meaningful work, letting go of self doubt and supposed to.
All wholehearted people are involved in some sort of meaningful work. The idea is to figure out those activities in which you do not realise the time passing by and it creates a difference in the world or is meaningful for you. If you can convert it into your profession then it would be great. But even if it's not your profession, figure out a way to incorporate it in your daily routine. She also emphasized the importance of letting go of self doubt and believing in yourself. I have written about something similar in my article on Ikigai.
10. Cultivating laughter song and dance and letting go of being cool and controlling ourselves
As per her research on people who live whole hearted lives, Brene emphasised the importance of laughter, song and dance in everyone's lives. Laughing, singing and dancing requires vulnerability as you have to let go of what people think. As we become adults, we think we have to remain cool and control ourselves in public environment. For this, letting go of these attributes will help you to incorporate more of the laughter, song and dance in your lives which in turn will help you live more whole-heartedly.
These 10 points are guidelines for wholehearted living. You may not be able to follow all of them but that is okay. We all are on a journey and you must do as much as you could. These guideposts help you to be more vulnerable, deepen your connections and live life more intentionally. What are your thoughts regarding these? Comment below and share your knowledge.