Every time you share vulnerably

Today I feel so grateful for those of us, and those in the world, who are “normalizing” vulnerability.

It takes courage.

I like to imagine that we’re cultivating a new Hero’s Journey.

For most of my life the hero’s journey has been based on “and they lived happily every after.” The stories I grew up with had the arc of introducing a character, something bad happens, they struggle, they find a way, and ta-da! Happily Ever After!

I’m bored with that story formula as a snapshot of a life journey that minimizes what comes next:

  • The next hour.
  • The next day.
  • The next segment of life with all its challenges.

After two days of pretty intense lower back pain and splinting, two visits to the chiro, it’s healing. And as is the way my body seems to work, the tensions and emotions unwinding in my lower spine often end up in my skull to be unwound further there. Ouch. 4am headache wake-up. 7-8-9.

There’s a Hero’s Journey story of mine, from long ago, where I had a headache unrelenting for 6 months and “incurable” disease. The lifestyle changes and new practices I adopted then “cured” the headache and the disease (ulcerative colitis). Happily Every After.

And yeah, it has been. In so many ways. Overall I continue to live a thriving life. I don’t want to even consider trying to cast my life as struggle. I’m not looking for sympathy or (ugh) pity.

This morning I’m appreciating that in my “happily ever after” period I’ve been blessed by people who, each and every day, live as a…

Human Being Human.

Getting beyond the social response of “I’m fine” that we culturally seem to encourage as a reflex answer to “how are you doing?” – I’ve gotten to know people as humans.

We get constipated sometimes. We have a crappy night’s sleep – or no restful sleep for a week or even years. Headaches – physical and emotional – abound. We feel heartbreak, losses, and yearnings galore. We can be proud of ourselves on day and ashamed the next.

We can make sense… and we can make no sense whatsoever.

It’s changing who I know as heroes. Real people. Some struggling in their Now. Some thriving. Some parts healed, some parts wounded. And showing up, for ourselves… and for others.

My hope – and one I’m putting my heart into – is that each of us will be able to embrace the Hero Within and the Hero in Community that we are when we are vulnerable and real. When we normalize that we can be thriving AND have a pain in our ass (or head… or heart).

We can be scared about a diagnosis and simultaneously (or tomorrow) grateful for a daffodil. It can be storming in one aspect of our emotional world and utterly calm in another.

Wild & Free Creatures We Shall Be :heavy_heart_exclamation:

Love to you all ways. @Rick


Thanks Rick…lots of great thoughts and observations expressed.

Vulnerability is a difficult road to walk for me…much more so in the past than currently though. Even now still the very idea of vulnerability as a positive character trait still gets a HUGE unconscious negative response from me…all sorts of unpleasant bodily sensations occur…and even confusion. I can reason it out intellectually and from that intellectual viewpoint see that vulnerability is not only positive but necessary in many cases. But there’s this incompatibility between ‘the idea of it’ and ‘the living of it’. In fact I can actually feel a confusion and slight dissociation come over me as I feel into it while I type this. It’s very strange and it’s obviously a very old and deeply wired reaction…a reflex.

My stronger impulse is to stay safe inside a protective layer of a created persona…a guy who is unflappable…inscrutable. From within that persona my ‘fight, flight, freeze’ responses are like vestigial organs…I don’t use or need them anymore. That’s the idea that feels safer, instinctual and more ‘right’ to me than the embracing of vulnerability.

But the fundamental experience of that persona is feeling very lonely and isolated. I know that from many years of experience being inside that persona and looking out through those eyes at the world outside. And of course I know that what that ‘imagined version of me’ wants me and others to believe is a lie. I am not that perfectly calm and fully self-realized guy I want to project…and protect. My nervous system tells me that very clearly.

And I have found that it is true, as you point out, that the more I express my feelings of vulnerability the more others are inclined to soften and open to expressing and feeling that very fundamental human experience. And when that happens I’ve noticed something that at first glance seems a bit paradoxical. The more I connect with my vulnerability and accept those feelings the more I actually can settle my nervous system and have some of those experiences my manufactured persona had desired through being insular and detached.

It’s a strange journey we are on…lol.


It was deeply helpful to me to differentiate between vulnerable and susceptible. Even though the dictionary does not.

They say for systems, people, fortresses: vulnerable to attack.

Brene Brown (amongst others) is actively seeking to embrace vulnerability in a human as being co-present with courage and strength. Daring.

And yes, it’s true that when we’re vulnerable we’re more open, and when we’re more open, we might be attacked. Probably will on some level. Personal criticism is a form of attack.

For me the question is how “susceptible” I am to harm. That goes to my skill level at being calm and confident combined with the spaces where I choose to share.

I feel less susceptible to overwhelming attack here than on Facebook for example, and definitely a lot more resilient being vulnerable here than say, Twitter (or the op-ed of the local paper). I know I can be vulnerable with @Jem and @Cathy – even around areas where my resilience is lower… because they are trustworthy with my heart. Others have proven that, too.

Sure, no one is perfect. People can say things that hurt. My hope is that we can cultivate a strong enough circle that people who invest some of their heartistry and vulnerability will feel our support for their realness… in ways the median person on the planet doesn’t get to experience… yet.

Appreciate you, @Glenn, for modeling what I was sharing in your reply. Courageous of you! And not a surprise. :heart_decoration:


I can also make an important distinction for me between the notion of seeking or desiring to be vulnerable vs noticing feelings of vulnerability. For me that may just be taking baby steps toward it…I’m not sure. There’s a part of me that still rebels and rejects the soundness of the idea of seeking to be vulnerable. That, to my mind. contradicts and violates VERY primal and basic mammalian needs. However, noticing when I am feeling vulnerable and accepting those feelings and sharing them is a very different experience. Everything that lives will experience vulnerability without any need for seeking or desiring the experience. The squirrel in my front yard NEVER seeks or desires to be vulnerable but he/she engages in necessary behaviours of survival that includes placing themselves in vulnerable situations.

Which brings up another question for me. Is vulnerability a feeling or is it a set of circumstances?..or both? And is it useful to make that distinction?

And more questions:
Is experiencing/feeling vulnerability an aspect of the ‘fight/flight’ nervous system? Can we experience vulnerability and be calm and centered at the same time?

Thank you Rick… :slight_smile:


Yes, that’s been my experience.

Yes, I can also be quite anxious and act in ways that are vulnerable.

Virtually everything I desire as part of a thriving lifestyle requires vulnerability.

Go For It, Squirrel! :wink:


I’ve had that experience as well…