The power of vulnerability

This week’s blog post stems from a recent TED Talk that I watched at my Group Facilitation Training through COPE Community Care Durham.  It was a talk by Brené Brown and it had the wheels turning in my head!  Brené addressed how vulnerability is at the core of creativity, innovation and change and without it, we are duped into thinking that our life has substance.  But are we really participating in our life?  Are we in the ‘arena’ and who have we invited to be in the audience?  How is it that the very people who care for us the most are the last to receive the invite?  So many questions and light bulb moments in my head went off that I found myself quite confused by the end of class. Hence the need to write and gain clarity!

We had just previously gone over the 4 types of fears F.A.I.R., fear of Failure, fear of abandonment, fear of inadequacy and fear of rejection.  Really at the root of all of our problems are one or more of these fears!  I find the word Abandonment to be a real trigger for me.  I know full well that I have issues around abandonment and I still struggle to sort it all out.  Then the video!  Okay, I have fears, and yet I am pushing through, showing my vulnerabilities and living my life.   So then why did I leave class last night feeling more fearful than when I first sat down?  Why do I still feel like what the hell am I doing here?  How can I of all people even be considered to facilitate a relationship group around conflict resolution when I have a slue of failed relationships behind me and continue to fail at them?!!

Fall 10,000 times, get up 10,001 times
— Master Steve Ruiz


Eternal Springtime just did it’s very first workshop around teens and the transition to high school through a parent reaching out grant in the local school board.  Showing parents and their teens how to come together in creative ways to open dialogue and lines of communication around emotional and mental readiness for high school.  I was pretty anxious about this one, our first big gig!  Could we deliver? How would we be received?  I had school staff, parents and teens all looking at me for the answers.  I was as vulnerable as I have ever been!!  I have never been good at public speaking, but I pushed through these fears and delivered a decent workshop.  You know what I noticed, amidst my mindset that these teens need us now more than ever?  I noticed that us parents need each other more than ever!  The teens were responsive, easy, comfortable and engaged.  The parents got technical talking about volunteer hours and such and not many participated in the interactive creative stations.  I had to get out there and pull them in.  Even when it came to panel, the adults wanted to talk about course selection, curriculum and agendas and although important, this was not the goal of this workshop.  We found ourselves bringing the questions back to parents and teens on strategies to best cope with stress, balance, and overwhelming feelings.  Again, the preteens and teens stepped up and there was a lot of great input and dialogue.  I did not expect for parents to be a challenge whatsoever.

Vulnerability is a very loaded word.  It means being honest, yes, but it also means being open, raw and exposed with a high risk of being hurt.  As adults, the armor is well-built!!  We’ve had plenty of years and difficult experiences to perfect and even master the ways in which we protect ourselves that there are times that we don’t even realize we are doing it.  Like the parents at the workshop, we believe wholeheartedly(oxymoron) that we are here to learn how to be emotionally and mentally ready for this big transition but how can we if we are not really participating??  How can we possibly be part of the paradigm shift if we are on the outer rim telling the players(our children) how to play?  For some, showing our vulnerability is showing our weakness.  We can never do that, especially to our kids!!  If only our children could see us as vulnerable, they would see themselves and know that they will be okay!  That we are all human and it’s in living and trying that we learn and grow.  That we can learn a thing or two or three from our teens!!  The world is ever evolving and the time is now to not only foster our children’s vulnerability in such a way that they have the courage to step into the arena but to join them and show them the way by doing it ourselves! How can they possibly know what failure and resiliency look like if we don’t show them how we ourselves don’t model these things?  How do we even know how to teach our children/teens to pick themselves up again after a fall or push through our discomfort if we ourselves are not doing it?

This workshop was far from perfect, but it was a great start!  It birthed something in me and for Eternal Springtime that will prove to evolve into something much more transformative.  Putting myself out there, being vulnerable, pushing through the fear and discomfort, has brought me to this very moment of clarity which would never have happened if I did not step into the arena!