The Astonishing power of Vulnerability

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What does it mean to be truly vulnerable?

This question has been on my mind a lot lately. Being vulnerable means letting your guard down and it means risk. By completely exposing yourself and expressing your thoughts and feelings, you risk being hurt, you risk being rejected, and you risk being s Understandably, many people find being vulnerable challenging and frightening, particularly men, at least in my experience. They often have a more difficult time showing or expressing emotion, having been told by society, their parents, or their friends that it’s not ‘manly’ to do so. It’s not uncommon for men to feel weak or effeminate when expressing emotion, so often they lock it all away and bear the burden of holding on to so much. But there is such power in being able to be absolutely vulnerable with someone, and deep connections are made in this way.

Dr. Brene Brown, a research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work and the author of the bestselling book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, has devoted nearly 15 years of her life studying the emotions of vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.Her Tedx Houston talk, “The Power Of Vulnerability,” is one of the top ten most viewed Ted Talks in the world. When it comes to vulnerability, I think it’s safe to say she’s an expert.

I absolutely love the part where she says: “They had connection …….. as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they were.”

And this line was pretty brilliant, too: “Being willing to be the one to say I love you first, and do something that doesn’t provide any guarantees, this is the way one could show vulnerability.”

As Dr. Brown mentions, people who feel shame are more likely to avoid vulnerability out of the fear of not being understood, or disliked, and therefore distance themselves from other people. It is a vicious cycle. It can be very challenging to be absolutely yourself and authentic with the ones you love, but it is so worth it in the end. Besides, don’t you want people to love you for who you are flaws and all? If you are constantly hiding these aspects of yourself, you may never truly connect with another person.

Being vulnerable means showing your authentic self to the ones that you love despite the fear that they may not accept you for who you are. This is a remarkable way to connect deeply with those who are important to you. I’m sure you may have met someone — or you may be like this yourself — who never lets their guard down and never reveals who they truly are. This can come in the form of what I like to call being a “chameleon for love.” These are people who always agree with what everyone says, and always seem to like the same things as everyone else, never sharing a different or controversial opinion. In order to be likeable, loved, and accepted, they do not show who they truly are or voice their own opinion, out of fear of being rejected. This is an example of someone who is afraid of being vulnerable and expressing themselves authentically. But how can you expect to truly connect with someone else if you can’t even be yourself around them? This is something to think about.

Being vulnerable also means having your defences down. Instead of being in defence mode and attacking what someone says about you, you can actually listen to what’s being said, accept it, and share your feelings in turn. If you can let your guard down, you may find it interesting to see how perceptive other people can be, and you may learn something about yourself that you were afraid to see or face.

By practicing vulnerability you allow yourself to feel:

  • A deeper degree of honesty
  • A greater degree of transparency
  • Less defensiveness
  • More courage
  • More authentically yourself
  • A higher level of understanding
  • A deeper sense of connectedness
  • Less lonely and isolated
  • Deeper, more loving relationships

At the end of the talk, she offers some fantastic advice worth practicing every day, for it really can have a more positive effect in your life than you might imagine. Here are the 4 evident
points:

  1. Let yourself be seen.
  2. Love with all your heart with no guarantee
  3. Practice Gratitude in joy, in moments of terror and fear, be grateful
  4. Believe that you are enough

This takes practice and yes, it can be difficult, especially starting out, but give it a shot and see how your world transforms. I guarantee you will feel more confident in who you are and more connected to those you love.

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Ginger Tea

The pounding on the kitchen slab was gentle and familiar. Every morning at 6’am is these cheerful moderate thuds made her smile while she was still in bed.Keshav liked to get up early and prepare ginger tea for her and a glass of milk for self. Beating the ginger pods with a stone was something he did without knowing how it made her feel.

He had taken her to Shimla on their tenth wedding anniversary. The recently released ‘Barfi’ had made it a popular destination. Her in-laws insisted they leave the children behind and take this much needed break.

She loved the place. It was cold and beautiful. After much coaxing, she agreed to cross small stream bare-feet. Scared and jittery she twinkle toed her dainty self away. He used to tease her that if it weren’t for her mangalsutra and over-flaunted sindoor, people would think she was still in school as her height deserted her in early childhood. She turned around to look at him from time to time to make sure he was right behind.

At one point when she looked back, he tossed something at her. She caught it but slipped in the bargain and sat with a splash in the middle of the shallow stream. What he tossed at her was this very stone. She sat in knee deep icy cold water holding it tight and watched him come near. She wanted to be angry with him but couldn’t be. He laughed with such joyous abandonment and picked her up in his arms that any heart would melt. She simply clung on. The rest of the crossing was one of the most beautiful moments of their trip.

This smooth white stone which looked like a shapeless potato had been with her since then.

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She was to marry her father’s business partner’s son when she was 16. As the business fell apart so did the marriage plans. No one said anything, no one heard anything. Everyone behaved as if the marriage plans never existed. But the young bride to be was crushed. In the next two years she finished her matriculation and left her home for making good of her future.

That is the time when Keshav and his innocence took over her. And suddenly their worlds went topsy-turvy leading to an exciting yet a journey of togetherness. The marriage was simple. She turned out to be a great wife and a daughter-in-law but for one handicap.

She could never get up early in the morning. Keshav got up early. Prepared tea. Poured them into tiny ceramic cups. Placed them on saucers and called out to her. She would place them on a tray, cover her head with the saree pallu and knock on the door of her in-laws.

Every family has secrets. This was theirs. It kept changing with time from being a tell-tale gossip to a funny story to a romantic legend. Now it was a tradition. The children had planned a grand get together for next year. Their sixtieth wedding anniversary.

Keshav walked in with cup of the same ginger tea. He propped the pillows and picked her frail body up to make her sit. She didn’t want a celebration. She didn’t want the world to wish her. All she wanted was to get her ginger tea in bed as long as she lived. She knew that the day the stone stopped pounding, her heart would too….

Magic of remembered moments…

Why is it that  many a time,  what we have been waiting for to happen, what we had been wishing for- when that moment finally dawns,  why does it feel so unreal, almost as if it was happening to someone else. Why does it feel so ordinary, so bland?

When the long awaited moment was in the present, I kept reminding myself , “Here is the moment you’ve been waiting for, watch it unfurl, be in it, hold on to it, savor it. Lock it away, for some day in the future, you will seek this moment in the casket of your memories, you’ll long to be back in it, relive it”…And then in some moment of the remote future, it becomes a miracle remembered, perhaps more magical than it had actually been when in the present.

Die Enormous!


May these 39 insights fuel your rise. And transform your game…‎ 

#1. ‎Dream up a vision so brave it makes all around you roll with laughter. Or reply with ridicule. 

#2. Care a lot more about how many people you help than how much recognition you receive. 

#3. Become the heavyweight champion of your craft. The undisputed titan of your field. And–quite simply–the best there ever was. 

#4. Protect your pristine reputation. It’s an asset of priceless value. And each day, make your good name worth even more by doing acts of excellence, work that astonishes and gestures that inspire. 

#5. When you fall, feel the pain. And then stand up. You were born for victory. And failure has no place in your world. 

#6. Offer great words. Your language forges your beliefs. And your beliefs drive your behaviors. Speak like a lion, never a sheep. Talk like a leader, never a victim. 

#7. Lean into your fears. Go out to your edges. Because the place where your greatest limits live is also the place where your greatest growth lies. 

#8. Become a walking, talking excuse-free zone, understanding that your excuses are nothing more than the lies your shadows have sold you. As of this moment, do what needs to get done. And remember, just because something was hard to do yesterday doesn’t ‎mean it won’t be easy to do today. 

#9. Silence your critics. Ignore your haters. Delete your cynics. The very act of playing at mastery and elevating the world is a massively disruptive act. Average people will become threatened by your brilliance. And so, try to stifle your genius. 

#10. Mentor a child. Inspire a kid. Raise a neighborhood. To be great is to be of use. And an instrument of service. 

#11. Most epic performers invested in 2.44 hours of daily training for ten straight years before the first signs of their greatness showed up (that’s ten years of anonymous). Most iconic companies took twenty years before they dominated their industries. World-class is a process. And legendary takes time. 

#12. To double your success, triple what you spend on personal development and professional learning. Because the person who knows the most becomes the best. This idea alone not only built my life–it saved it. 

#13. Forgive those who need to be forgiven. Each of us is doing the best we can, based on the information we know. No point in wasting too much time getting even. The Chinese proverb said it best: “before you go off to seek revenge, it is best to dig two graves.” 

#14. Be radically generous. Give your known ones 100X the value they expect (they’ll fall in love with you). Give your loved ones 100X more love than they demand (they’ll adore you). And do it without expectation of any return. Otherwise it’s not a real gift–it’s a trade. 

#15. Be an original. Copycats never become ubiquitous. And clones don’t become game-changers. 

#16. Spend time in solitude. Daily. As you rise into your heroism and construct a life that will make history, you’ll face the voices of dissent. Spending time alone will forge your conviction for your mission. And allow you to refuel. So you stay strong for your vision. 

#17. Be not afraid of heartbreak. The root of the word “passion” means “to suffer”.‎ And all masters suffer. They suffer the pain of stumbling their way to greatness. And the hurt of standing for their artistry. And the wound of being misunderstood. Along with the sacrifice of practicing their craft to extreme degrees. 

#18. When you witness injustice, speak up. And do something about it. If you don’t, you allow unfairness to rule our world. 

#19. Get fit like an athlete. Not just to look good and become lean. But to live long. So you can inspire, elevate and serve for many many more years. Staying in the game longer than anyone around you is a gorgeous strategy for becoming iconic. 

#20. Be real. Too many of us are so petrified to be ourselves that we invest our energy in becoming great pretenders. But few things are as powerful than a human being who’s comfortable in their own skin.‎ Authenticity is an element of mastery. Oscar Wilde said it perfectly: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” 

#21. Say sorry when you need to. Say thank you like you mean it. 

#22. Remember that gratitude is the antidote to misery. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and nor epinephrine get dumped into your brain. You’ll feel happier, stronger more alive and on fire to rise to remarkable.