“Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.“ -Brené Brown
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” -Brené Brown
Have you ever wondered why we pull back instead of going full force ahead when it comes to our biggest and wildest dreams? Could it be that joy is our most terrifying emotion? Dr. Brené Brown, who has written bestselling books and delivered a powerful TED talk on vulnerability, says it is.
According to Brown, when we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, we do not delight in our moments of joy because we are afraid that they will be taken away. In other words, to protect ourselves from the manufactured fear of being devastated, we do not fully embrace happiness.
It is not that we are afraid of doing that which leads to joy but of the emotions associated with things not working out. As a result of a fear of imagination, many people settle for a mediocre existence rather than live the BIG life they really want.
Avoidance of pain takes precedence over pleasure.
Don’t you find that fascinating? This was a huge A-HA for me. It begs the question: how do we overcome the imaginary self-imposed barriers and boldly move forward?
Brown says that the happiest people are those who instead of backing away because of anticipated terror are grateful for what they have and seize the opportunities. They, too, experience fear, but they recognize it for what it is and choose to practice gratitude in the moment.
Consider the following scenario. You have dreamt all your life of hosting your own cooking show on television. You get invited to do a segment on a local station. There is the initial excitement that you are going to be doing what you love most. Then, suddenly, you start to think of everything that could go wrong. Your tolerance for vulnerability goes way down, and you retreat.
In that moment, the better choice would be to remind yourself of all the reasons why this is an amazing opportunity: you’ll get to showcase your talent, you’ll share your gift of cooking, you get to practice with a smaller audience, you’re living your dreams, etc.
Do you see the powerful shift that happens when we choose to be grateful?
How are you foreboding joy in your life? What are some of the ways in which you can practice gratitude today and every day? Are you ready to raise your level of tolerance for vulnerability and pleasure?
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