You’re at a cocktail party or talking to a new acquaintance. The response that person makes when they learn you are a creative, is someday I’m going to (insert your type of creativity) too. Most people never get around to it. Why? Because they are afraid to be vulnerable. But your creativity is born of your vulnerability. With apologies to Brené Brown, the only way to be creative is to go through your vulnerability.
What is Vulnerability?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines vulnerability as “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.” In this case, you need to go deeper. To be vulnerable is to expose yourself to physical or emotional wounds from your past or present or future. And it means to expose yourself to failure and fear and shame.
Vulnerability Sounds Scary
It is scary. It’s the thing many of you avoid as much as you can. You numb yourselves so you won’t feel the fear, the pain, or the shame of not being enough.
Some people numb themselves with drugs or alcohol or even food. Other people numb themselves with being too busy to be vulnerable. Some tell themselves that being vulnerable is weak, so they construct psychological and physical walls to appear strong. They are certain that they are right and everyone and everything that differs from that is wrong.
Our fear stops us from being great.Chrissy Levett
We’re scared someone will see that we’re not enough. Not good enough. Not talented enough. Or not brave enough. Not rich enough. Not worthy enough.
Honestly, it’s not about any of those things.
What Vulnerability Really Is
Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up, even when you can’t control the outcome.Brené Brown
Vulnerability is courage. You try, you fail. You get up and try again. And fail again. But you get up and try… again. That’s courage.
You admit you used the wrong word in that email because you’re dyslexic. That’s courage.
A friend is saying or doing things you believe to be inauthentic or harmful to others or even dangerous. You have a nonjudgmental, honest, and caring conversation. That’s courage.
Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.Unknown (often incorrectly attributed to Sigmund Freud)
Vulnerability is authentic. It’s being whole and imperfect. And believing that your imperfections are what make you beautiful and worthy. Vulnerability allows connections. Connections with yourself first, then other people. And vulnerabilty gives birth to creativity.
How to Be Vulnerable
Face What You Fear. You cannot be vulnerable until you face yourself with all your imperfections, your past shame, and your pain. Appreciate your past and your imperfections. Know you are worthy.
It isn’t easy. But you can do it.
Let Yourself Be Seen. Yes, your imperfections and all. Again, it is difficult. You might show yourself, then hide again. That’s okay. As long as you keep working to know you are enough, you’ll find your courage.
The moment that you feel that just possibly you’re walking down the street naked exposing too much of yourself… that’s the moment you might be starting to get it right.Neil Gaiman
Genuinely love yourself and others. Love when it’s difficult. Love when there’s no guarantee. For when you love yourself and others, you will be kinder and more gentle with yourself and others.
Practice gratitude. Every day. For the small and the big things. For the “good” and the “bad.” Help or repay others.
Practice joy. You’ll find it in the corners, in the people, in the environment, and in yourself.
Learn More About Vulnerability
It is with deep gratitude I acknowledge the influences of Brené Brown on this post. She speaks and writes from years of research into shame and vulnerability. And she walks the walk.
Watch Brené’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability. Her best-selling audiobook, The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage is available on Amazon. As for it from your favorite book seller.
Your Creativity is Born of Your Vulnerability
Have you numbed yourself? Are there pains and emotions you pretend don’t exist? No wonder you don’t feel creative.
Numbing isn’t something you can isolate. When you numb yourself to the bad or scary feelings, you’ve numbed yourself to the positive ones. And when you’re numb, you cannot be vulnerable.
Your creativity is born of your vulnerability—of your pain, your suffering, your joy, and your courage. If you aren’t vulnerable, your creativity isn’t as authentic as it could be. So, find your courage. Face your fear. You are creative. So be vulnerable. Be creative.