What is vulnerability?
“Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability. Love is uncertain. It’s incredibly risky. And loving someone leaves us emotionally exposed. Yes, it’s scary, and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?”
What are the myths about vulnerability?
If vulnerability is a necessary aspect of feelings and enables you to feel emotions like joy and love, then why is there so much resistance around being vulnerable? What comes to mind when you think of vulnerability? Most people associate vulnerability with weakness, or they believe that they just don’t do the “vulnerability thing” – maybe you are one of those people.
Summarized below are the six myths of vulnerability that Brené Brown has identified in her research:
What is vulnerability armour?
Brené Brown uses the term “vulnerability armour” to describe the masks and armour that you wear to protect yourself from the discomfort of vulnerability. Although your masks and armour are as unique as the discomfort, pain, and emotions that you’re trying to minimize, there are three common pieces of armour that many people turn to:
What is Courage?
“The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant ‘to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting your life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting your vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.”
Where can I learn more?
Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
What will students learn?
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to…
- Effectively communicate the three elements of vulnerability and how these apply to their everyday life
- Debunk the vulnerability myths
- Recognize the presence of vulnerability armory and develop a willingness to take off their armor
- Understand the relationship between vulnerability and courage
Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Hazelden Publishing.
Brown, B. (2012). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. Avery.
Brown, B. (2018). Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Random House.
Cook, G. (2013, October 22). Why We Are Wired to Connect. Scientific American.
Dudley, D. (2010, September). Everyday leadership [Video]. TED.
Gottman, J. (2011). The Science of Trust: Emotional Attunement For Couples. WW Norton.
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Courage. Merriam-Webster.com dictionary.
Ontario Ministry of Education (2008). Finding Common Ground.
Restrepo, S. (Director). (2019, April 19). The Call to Courage [Video]. Netflix.