Vulnerability Key In Connecting With Others

By Jeremy Brown

We have started a new birthday tradition here at Youth Resources after being encouraged by Laura Heister’s recent column that provided tips for making birthdays more meaningful.

The exercise that includes asking a series of reflective questions and concludes with positive affirmation has been powerful for our staff. We have celebrated three birthdays within the past month and last week’s birthday girl was clearly uncomfortable with receiving so much of the love that she is used to giving others. Her reaction had me digging into the question, “Why are we more comfortable giving verbal affirmation than receiving it?”

I believe the answer is that we aren’t verbally affirming our family, friends, significant others and co-workers enough. We live in a society that tends to overvalue tough, even-keel, non-emotional actions and words. When you combine that mentality with a culture that’s becoming so digital and social media driven, you start lacking in personal interactions and vulnerable conversations that lead to true connection with people.

Our affirmation exercise we’ve held during birthday celebrations recently? It has resulted in some raw, beautiful emotion that has connected our staff at a deeper level. There has been significant laughter, thoughtfulness and tears in these conversations, and as the late Jim Valvano would say, “That’s a full day.”

Dr. Brene Brown is one of the world’s leading researchers on vulnerability and she says courage and vulnerability start with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. That means wearing our emotions on our sleeve from time to time. That means telling others how we feel. That means letting people in and not hiding behind the invisible barriers we tend to build.

Reflecting on some of the most full moments in my life, there is one common denominator: vulnerability. Those moments have included meaningful conversation infused with love and transparency. Sitting in a circle and being real with people I care about is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

This notion of vulnerability terrifies many. I promise you there is no more powerful tool in connecting with others.

“I found that vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the magic sauce.” – Dr. Brene Brown

Jeremy Brown is the TEENPOWER, Communications and Special Events Coordinator at Youth Resources.