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The Courage to Be Vulnerable

There are several messages that I preach in therapy and in presentations, and one is that vulnerability is a sign of strength and helps us feel connected to others.  That’s a tough sell in a culture where it’s all about cultivating the best image of ourselves as possible. 

Facebook is a good example of this.  We can post pictures just of our face so that no one can see how much weight we’ve gained.  We can even Photoshop the picture if we really want to look good.  We post happy family and friend pictures where we’re doing interesting things and visiting cool places.  We post Happy Anniversary or Happy Birthday messages to our wonderful husband/wife/daughter/son, who we are lucky to have in our lives, and they might not be able to read them because they’re not on FB.  Or aren’t yet able to read.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m guilty of all of these things, too.  I want people to see me in the best light.  I want to hide my mistakes, my flaws, my deep, dark secrets.

It has been my goal to write a book for a long time, but every time I start to write I am paralyzed by that voice in my head that says I suck.  Who do you think you are, thinking you can write?  Like you have anything worthwhile to say.  You’re family is going to be mad at you for talking about them.  People will lose respect for you once they see how crazy you are. 

I am beginning to appreciate how brave it is when writers put themselves out there–their work, their thoughts, their lives–knowing that the world will judge them. But I also have a better understanding of why they do it.  It’s because they want to speak the truth.  They want to be able to say, this is who I am, and I don’t have to apologize for it–even if they’re cringing as they write it.

I started this blog last week because it was time for me to let people read my writing.  At first I was going to write it but not publish it.  Then I decided to publish it but not put it on FB.  Then I decided I was only going to post the funny, light ones on FB.  But that would defeat the purpose of the blog. 

This blog is about learning how to accept all of myself, regardless of what other people might think of me as a result.  In doing so, hopefully it will help other people do the same.  So I’m going to publish this post, too, even though it’s the hardest one I’ve written so far.

P.S.  If you’re interested in the idea of sharing your vulnerability, check out Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly.”  She also has a TED talk on the subject.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

6 responses »

  1. Love all your posts, Christy, and think that much more (better) of you since reading them.

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  2. Ditto! Thanks for being open and vulnerable.

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  3. This one made me laugh out loud! I think we might be the same person.

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  4. That's good! I thought it was at least a little bit funny.

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  5. Being vulnerable & admitting/accepting it has got to be my biggest fear and struggle. I know I am vulnerable & very gullible, traits I've been trying to change for several years. Seeing someone-that nearly mirrors my own personal struggles-speak about, open up, admit & accept the very things that I cant stand about myself gives me a little bit more courage to do the very same.

    Thank you, again, for sharing. 🙂

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  6. Check out the book Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. She's the one who takes about vulnerability as courage.

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