What does the word vulnerable conjur up for you? Is it something positive or negative?
I had a brilliant coach once give me the assignment to PAUSE and PONDER “What is the power of vulnerability?” There were many things I learned from this contemplation, but the bottom line is that vulnerability = truth. When I am vulnerable, I am in touch with my feelings and what my body is telling me. The truth lives in your body, and it will set you free if you embrace it.
Dr. Brene Brown, professor of social work at the University of Houston, has studied vulnerability and shame for 10 years. She did a very famous TED talk on the power of vulnerability and it is well worth the 20 minutes to listen. Some of her findings are that when we embrace vulnerability:
1) we have the compassion to be kind to ourselves
2) our connections are a result of authenticity, and
3) it is the birthplace of true joy.
This is great wisdom, AND what made the biggest impact on me was her thesis that we live in a vulnerable world, and what we do when we don’t want to feel vulnerable is numb ourselves. The problem with this is that we can not selectively numb certain emotions, so we end up numbing everything. This is a set up for misery. When we embrace vulnerability, our aliveness meter goes way up, we believe in ourselves and have the courage to be imperfect.
Brene Brown studies vulnerability, and I study pleasure. What I have learned is that there is a very close connection between vulnerability and pleasure. My experience of living in a state of inner pleasure comes from living with a chronic pain condition for almost 30 years. I know that pleasure and pain live right next to each other within us. I also know that if I do not allow myself to feel emotions and vulnerability, it is impossible to achieve a true state of pleasure. I can fake it, just like women fake orgasms, but the result is that I am the one who loses out. It is no fun to fake it.
If you are still reading this blog, it means that I have your attention. Let me give you an easy and effective way to experiment with vulnerability and pleasure.
As Dr. Brown said in her TED talk, we live in a vulnerable world. Vulnerability happens to all of us, and when it does, your emotions are closer to the surface. This is a good thing because it means that you are feeling instead of thinking. However, what we often do in this situation is resist the emotion and feeling. What happens when we resist is that the feeling will persist. Instead of resisting, I invite you to follow this 3 step strategy.
- When you feel an emotion rising, recognize it as a feeling of vulnerability.
- Don’t resist. Instead, lean into the feeling.
- As you are feeling, become aware of your sensuality (5 senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), and smile.
I could write many words for how this creates a mini pleasure cycle in your life, but it is much better if you experience it. All 3 steps take no more than 30 seconds so you can do it whenever a moment of vulnerability arises.
When we embrace our vulnerability, we embrace our perfectly imperfect humanness.
Don’t forget to smile! It is the finishing touch!!
Betty Louise, CPCC
Author, Pleasure Medicine Coach, Master Trainer, Radio Host
Betty Louise has been teaching and interviewing progressive thinking experts, artists and innovators from all over the world for over 20 years. She has written about her experiences in a book titled “Healing with Pleasure Medicine: Unearthing the Beautiful, Sensual, and Sexual You.”
She is an expert coach who works with receptive and broad minded people. She helps them rediscover their inner beauty, sensuality, and sexuality so that they fall in love with themselves every time they look in the mirror. Her 30 minute skype or phone sessions are powerful and insightful prompting her clients to say things like “What a wonderful addition to my life…you are.”