Vulnerability is not a Weakness

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” — Dr Brene Brown

If you would have asked me three years ago, “Would you ever see a therapist?” My answer would have been “absolutely not, why would I need to?” But looking back, there are many times in my life I would have benefited from one. My graduate school experience changed my life. It made me look at everything differently. It made me realize we are all hard wired for struggle. It made me realize that sometimes the only difference between you and the person without a home, food, and a job, is luck. A loss, a life change, a challenge can happen to anyone. Therefore, letting yourself heal from what life throws at you is so important. It also gave me hope that there are so many people out there who want to help you heal.

I didn’t have the courage to see a therapist until I finished graduate school. I chose to see one for many reasons. I saw the same therapist every other week for three months. My therapist gave me a very good first impression. Before my first session, I thought of cancelling and I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing for me. I arrived at the location for my session, after a lot of anticipation, only to find that we had a miscommunication about the meeting day. My mind was telling me “this is a sign.” I kept thinking, “I should not have decided on this.” However, she responded saying, “Just wait, I’ll be there in ten minutes.” In the end, it came down to my fear of being vulnerable. Even though I knew that it wouldn’t be easy for me, I knew that it would set me free.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word vulnerability comes from the latin word vulnerare, meaning “to wound.” This definition includes “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded” and “open to attack or damage.” Whereas, weakness is defined as the “lack of ability to confront an attack or wounding”. This shows the two have no connection. Brene Brown, a social worker and researcher, found studies where there was a link between our capability to accept our exposure and how positive our health regimen is. I find this to be true because therapy helped me break through walls that I was unable to. It helped me value who I am as a person. Before seeing a therapist, I completely avoided being vulnerable. I would ignore any feelings that I thought were a weakness and hide them. I wanted to be perfect and pretend I was perfect. The truth is, we can’t escape vulnerability. It often includes these two concepts:

Emotional Exposure

It can be hard to admit we are struggling or are unhappy with something. We can worry that people will judge us and consider us weak. Once I was able to be true to myself and show my true emotions, I realized that people don’t judge you as much as you think. People like seeing the rawest form of yourself. When I was working with clients in my internship, who were mainly older adults, I learned the most from those who were not scared to share their stories of struggle and I admired them for it. It’s pure bravery.

Taking Risks

Taking a risk also involves vulnerability. When you tell someone you love them for the first time, start a new job that you don’t have experience in, move to a new place with an unknown future, or allow yourself to share a huge mistake you made. These risks are challenging because they all feel like they could result in not being accepted. However, these risks are worth taking. These risks may involve fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the unknown. Instead of waiting for the fear to go away, we often have to take actions before the fear goes away. When I went to therapy for the first time, I was scared, but did it anyway.

​I’m so proud about my decision to attend therapy. It allowed me to see how clients I worked with felt when I was encouraging them to express how they were feeling when they were in such a vulnerable position. Now, I will promote therapy as much as I can, because I have personally benefitted greatly from it. I now also strive not only to shed light on mental health, but to consider myself as a wounded healer and practice what I preach.

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try. — Seth Godin

Originally published at brigidgeary.weebly.com.