Exposing our fears sets us free
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
Self-help author Brené Brown’s research on connection revealed that long-lasting relationships necessitate vulnerability.
Disconnection is ubiquitous within our modern-day culture. People keep to themselves as they embark on daily walks and run errands. The Vancouver Foundation surveyed 3,841 people found that 31 percent of Vancouverites find it arduous to develop meaningful friendships in this beautiful coastal city. As a culture we have become accustomed to superficial interactions and observing people’s highlight reels, i.e., the best version of themselves.
Healthy interpersonal relationships are integral to the survival of humanity, and this is precisely why we urgently need our culture to embrace vulnerability. You may be bewildered as to why exposing intimate parts of ourselves to others yields connections within the community. Frankly, many link vulnerability with fragility, a weakness rather than a strength that helps create meaningful connections. Dr. Brené Brown, author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” argues that vulnerability correlates with a higher sense of belonging and a wholehearted living.
Understandably, too often we shy away from a chance to expose our fears to friends. Instead, they hide tucked away in our thoughts. Even when we reveal our insecurities on Instagram, the post is curated to compliment a prophecy of self-love. Maybe we should log off; vulnerability happens offline.
Self-help author Brené Brown’s research on connection revealed that long-lasting relationships necessitate vulnerability. For many folks expressing that fragile side of ourselves evokes anxiety and discomfort. We take precautions to conceal atychiphobia (the fear of failure) which is more common than many of us know. We all have dreams we want to accomplish and make ourselves and others proud.
To overcome the fear of failure, we need to address it through empathy. By having these uncomfortable, emotionally mature conversations, we can expose the universality of shame. Through Brown’s research, she realized that the foreground of joy and belonging in those uncomfortable feelings of shame. “People who have a strong sense of belonging believe they’re worthy of belonging,” Brown shares in her TedTalk that reached audiences all over the world. Connection rests on authenticity.
Facilitating change starts with making the courageous choice of profound interactions where you share honestly and openly. Next time when a friend asks you how you’re doing, instead of responding with the automatic “good,” take a moment to check in with yourself. After giving yourself a moment to ponder, answer honestly within reason. Note that before emotionally dumping on your friend, ask if they have the space for this conversation. If they do, go ahead and share what is on your mind. Letting this out will establish stronger connections just with one vulnerable interaction each day.
Once you uncover the freeing power of speaking truthfully while sharing vulnerabilities, you may be unable to return to your old ways of an automated generic response. Through these conversations, we can shift to a culture that normalizes vulnerability, while also taking a chance to smile at a stranger. You never know they may be a newcomer who already feels jaded after hearing about the associated friendship enigma.