I’m one of those oddballs that actually enjoys vulnerability.  When I live open, I feel a freedom I can’t express.  I’m not hiding behind armour of protection or working hard to maintain an exhausting image of perfection.  That being said, as much as living open and vulnerable can encourage others to feel freedom to do the same, it also attracts arrows.  When your armour is down, those arrows hurt.  It’s tempting to want to put the armour back on, make the walls of the heart even thicker, thus repeating the cycles of exhaustion of trying to keep up appearances to avoid the arrows.

It feels like one just can’t win, doesn’t it?

As of late I have once again had flying arrows challenge my love of vulnerability.  Arrows that have sought to destroy my courage to live out loud and free in who I am.  The woman-wall-building tendency pulls at my heart with a strong rope.  I can feel my spirit becoming weary from fighting against it.  I want to give in.  Pretension looks appealing.  Our culture seems to promote having an aloof disposition.  I confess you to you precious reader, that I’ve actually tried it once or twice.  It was the most awkward feeling I can honestly say I’ve ever felt.  I didn’t feel “true”, if that makes sense?  It felt cold and unnatural.

I’m presently reading the book, “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown who studies vulnerability and shame.  She describes vulnerability as “sounding like truth but feeling like courage”.  It takes heap loads of courage to step into the arena exposing your true self.  As courageous as it is, there’s nothing like the feeling of truth.  I’ve decided once again that I value the feeling of truth over the feeling of rejection.  I love what Brene writes; “Regardless of our willingness to do vulnerability, it does us.  When we pretend that we can avoid vulnerability we engage in behaviours that are often inconsistent with who we want to be”.  I’d rather take the hard road and achieve who I want to be through rough blows due to exposure than take a shallow road trying to be who others want me to be only to avoid rejection that is probably inevitable anyways.

Here’s the number one thing I’m learning about vulnerability that is helping me guard it and maintain it as a value in my life: “Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Vulnerability without boundaries leads to disconnection, distrust and disengagement.  Disengagement triggers shame and our greatest fears – the fears of being abandoned, unworthy and unlovable.  Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of people who are in the stands.” (Daring Greatly).  That’s right.  The people who are with me in the arena, fighting with me are the ones who have earned the right to the inner chambers of my heart.  The balance is learning what living “open” looks like to those who are outside that circle, without stepping over the boundary that leads to disconnection, distrust and disengagement.

Vulnerability is contagious.  It inspires and brings a feeling of safety to those who are around it.  What do you think about boundaries in vulnerability?  What does it look like to live with arms wide open, yet with boundaries?  I would love to hear your thoughts.