Vulnerability…that evil word.

Vulnerability has been on my mind lately. This summer I went through something that brought this right up into my face for me to see the light of the dark. It is no surprise to me (as this tends to be my MO) I got very sick after the fall out of it all. As I moved through the after math and worked on becoming well, which took FOREVER and cost me a bunch of beautiful beach days, I was in awe of how much vulnerability or lack thereof played a role in the said scenario.

As I slowly returned to my norm, I was taken aback by how much of my own crap/karma I was able to work through. It helped me to shift from a place for

“WTF Happened????”


“Thank god that happened because i feel SO much lighter and brighter because of it.”

This is often what happens when you have one of those “breakthroughs” they talk about in the yoga/meditation/spiritual circles. Through the pain and rain comes the proverbial rainbow.

My friend Fran used to tell me “you are like me. We are rough, tough cream puffs.” Yes we were. Most people who know me know that I am truly a very heartfelt mushy kind of emotional being but that discovery only comes after you get through the tough Bostonian exterior that was built up to protect me against perceived harm. As I tell my clients, the walls we build up to protect ourselves against hurt and pain are also keeping any positive opportunities from getting in as well.

Herein lies the lesson.

I must tell you, in my work with clients the path of vulnerability is one tough ass hard sell! I work with many young people, who much like my younger self, are very driven, intellectually defended, Type A and ALL ABOUT achievement and forward movement. They are so NOT about being with the mucky stuff of emotions which is what eventually gets them to walk through my office door. Try as we may, we (human beings) can not avoid the murky waters of our emotions.

All this reflection on my clients vulnerability issues and my own recent revelations, I decided to delve into some of the work of Brene Brown, PhD who is a social worker, researcher and leader in the academic field of looking at vulnerability.

Here is a look at her famous TED talk on the issue

There are many people that love, love, love Brown. I can’t say I am in that fan club; mostly because I prefer a more spiritual approach on the subject. That being said, there was one thing that resonated deeply with me. She shared that “connection is why we are here” and that “in order for connection to happen we have to really be seen.”


i totally agree and this is often what I share with my clients. Duh..she says as she’s writing…just another moment where the guide needs to take her own advice! LOL. It is so very true that we can’t have true authentic connections without being vulnerable. Being vulnerable does mean that we allow for the possibility that we could be hurt AND at the same time it also means that we are allowing ourselves to feel fully alive in the process.

When we play it safe, we do know what we are getting but at the same time we don’t really know what we could be missing out on if we took a chance.

Ooooo that’s so very true. And also kinda painful to recognize at the same time.

Those that play it safe, and I can fall victim to this at times, often are not fully happy because they are not allowing themselves to experience the risk of both succeeding and failing.

This is where the evil twin called Perfectionism enters the room. Oh boy is she/he an evil evil twin. I imagine that she looks a bit like this…..

Total bad ass Wonder Woman ready to take names and kick ass. This is unfortunately is my evil twin when I get caught up in playing self defense in my life. Although it’s so not cream puff like or my true self, it is the nitty gritty reality. My bad ass Wonder Woman evil twin does NOT like to make mistakes, be wrong or basically do anything half assed or imperfect.

She can be a bit of a Debbie Downer of sorts.

Why you say?

Well…. Brene Brown speaks about those that allow themselves to be vulnerable as being “whole hearted people.” She shares that these are the people who have the courage to be imperfect.

While I like to fashion my soft and squishy core as being “whole hearted, “ I can definitely see where Brown is coming from. While we are working on being perfect what we are not doing is being completely authentic. She further shares

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”

Awwwww yes, this is so true. I know that I am most at peace when I am allowing myself to be raw and unbridled; not burdened with my hard core exterior. This is truly when my authentic soul rises to the surface for all to see.

How often does this happen you may wonder?

Well I can honestly say WAY more often than it used to. It is much more likely that you will encounter soft and squishy Steph than bad ass Wonder Woman these days. And that experience this summer….it made become even squishier (If that is even a word LOL).

Pema Chodron is a American Buddhist meditation teacher and author of many books with the kind of titles that make you say to yourself “Oh yeah I SO need that!” On the subject of vulnerability Chodron shares

“Since there is nothing fundamentally broken in us, since our fundamental state is wide open, unbiased, extremely insightful, aware and awake, in order to relax into that we can’t just want pleasure and avoid pain.”

This is a core Buddhist teaching and one that I use in my practice quite often. We can’t turn away from pain and expect that we will find the light. In avoiding pain, imperfection, failure, we are inherently also avoiding growth, true passion and authentic happiness.

As the year quickly spirals towards an end, I am truly grateful for all the pain that I went through this year. It helped me grow in ways I would never have expected. As I mentioned in our last chat I shared a lot of the transitions that I have been through this year. Every last bit of it brought me to the very grateful place I am in my heart today. All the tears, the anger, the fears, the troubled, worried mind, all of my darkness brought me to see the tunnel of light that runs through me to shine outward. None of it was easy but it was necessary.

Vulnerability is a funny thing. It is the process of which we find our true selves; naked for all to see. Healing isn’t easy but it is necessary if you want to find true happiness.

So shine one, shine on, my friends. Life is a journey. You get to choose how you walk the path. Will it be light or heavy. Are taking kicking ass and taking names or opening yourself up to the love all around you? You get to choose.

Choose lightness. Choose happiness. Choose Love. Always.


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