Were you taught to feel vulnerable? Or just to be a superwoman?

Written by Noemi Martin of FEMME VEU as a contributing post for allWomen.

Our society appeals to courage, bravery, strength … But what happens when, in moments like the ones we are experiencing now, you start to feel vulnerable? Do you reject the feeling? Do you feel angry or sad? Or do you feel calm?

Vulnerability is not usually so well received in our society. However, courage and vulnerability go together, although at first glance it doesn’t seem so. American researcher René Brown has spent two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She defines vulnerability as: “The feeling we get when we feel uncertain, at risk, or emotionally exposed.” Throughout these years of study, she observed that a person’s courage can be scientifically measured by how vulnerable they are willing to feel. If you have a Netflix account, I invite you to watch the special “Be brave”, where the researcher talks about it in depth (you can see the official trailer, here).

According to the Law of Polarity, everything is dual. Everything has two poles that are usually labeled as positive or negative, and they are understood as opposites. Nevertheless, they’re actually on the same continuum, and you cannot have one without having the other. Often we need to experience each pole separately before we can achieve a balance between them. Therefore, if we want to experience courage, we must open ourselves to feeling vulnerable, since facing certain situations entails a feeling of risk, insecurity, or exposure.

Does this mean that we should put ourselves at risk voluntarily and continuously? Of course we shouldn’t. A clear example of this is the viral load we’re all listening to these days. Continuously putting myself at risk by exposing myself to COVID-19 does not mean that I am braver than someone who doesn’t. In my opinion, the courage is not about deciding to ignore that I feel vulnerable and expose myself to risk. It’s about embracing that vulnerability and still making the decision to stay home despite the impact this decision will have on my business, as an example.

But being superwoman of the century, seems to mean that we have to get away from our emotions so that we don’t feel small and believe that we can do everything on our own. And only the doll of the picture might survive this without paying a heavy price for it. Avoiding your emotions has consequences on your health and your mind. Read an article from Time Magazine here for more context.

Sometines, the more we try to avoid an emotion, the more it manifests itself. To be conscious about what this emotion has to tell us is important to our emotional wellbeing. There’s a simple exercise I like to practice to do so. I call it “personifying my emotion” and it consists of closing your eyes, connecting with the emotions you are feeling, and imagining that they turn into a person. Then put yourself in front of this person/emotion and talk to them. You can ask them: What do you need?, How can I help you? or Why do you express yourself in that way?… This exercise usually gives me the keys to approaching myself and comprehending the situation to be able to set the emotion free.

Right now, life is asking us to review all of our systems, including our beliefs. The lack of physical freedom by not being able to go outside, feeling insecure about the possibility of getting sick or losing our business / job, among many other situations we are experiencing today, makes us feel more vulnerable than we are willing to accept. Let us take this opportunity to review our beliefs regarding vulnerability. We can begin by stopping the association of it with weakness and start linking it with courage. 

Let’s also analyze what’s the worst that could happen? Why is this result so important to us? Is it aligned with our value system and/or priorities? Perhaps all of this will give us some clues to dismantle emotional traps and begin to connect with our calm.

We need to embrace our vulnerability and, from the feeling of trust, start seeing all of the opportunities that this moment is offering to us. Let’s make this situation positive and move towards the pole of courage. Because vulnerability is the place where courage is born. And, as an old legend says: “this too shall pass.” It is your decision to take advantage of learning from it or staying in your “comfort” zone.

Noemi Martin is an experienced specialist in Mobile Applications and Marketplaces. She has worked in the Product Area for most than 6 years. Trained in Wingwave® Coaching and other personal development techniques, now she melts both experiences at FEMME VEU helping other women to (re)connect and reinforce their personal power. You can see her Linkedin Profile here.

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