Getting healthy is not an easy endeavor. You are not only changing physically but you are also changing mentally, emotionally, and many times spiritually, or at least that’s my story. One of the first changes I had to make in my health journey was developing an ability to be vulnerable. Vulnerable is what Brené Brown defines as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (Brown pg 34). In this article we will be looking at vulnerability and how it can help position us for long term success in our health journey.
When taking on any new challenge there is a point of vulnerability that everyone experiences. For instance, it is a risk to ask for help, look like a rookie, or expose your opinion. I remember in the beginning of my health journey there was a point where I had to take the emotional risk of telling my friends that I wasn’t going to eat the way I had before. It is scary even amongst people who love you. Many of us struggle during the holidays because we don’t want to risk any level of disapproval or rejection from our family when telling them you want to eat a certain way. I have some friends who are don’t go to the gym because the risk of exposure. I know that it is hard for me to be honest with my cycling coach and/or doctor because the risk of being seen as too weak. The struggle to be vulnerable is real and undeniable. When we are vulnerable, it feels like we are positioning ourselves to get hit in the gut socially and emotionally. But unfortunately, it is the risk we need to take in order to start the health journey.
“To be alive is to be vulnerable.” – Madeleine L’Engle
I think about this quote, and think about how Jesus is vulnerable with us. He opens himself up to be ridiculed and questioned all the time in order that I may be alive in him. Now some people question Jesus with legitimate question and for understanding, but others to ridicule and demean. It is interesting to see how Jesus handles each situation. For the honestly curious person, he takes the time to explain. There will be people in your life who are honestly curious about the choices you are making, and that’s ok. Take the time to invite them into your process. It is helpful for you to hear yourself explain what you are doing and why. It is also helpful and encouraging to others. You never know, you might be starting a trend within your social circle. For the people who approached Jesus with ill intent, he generally portrayed his values in the form of a parable. So if someone is giving you a hard time, it is ok to confidently say that you are doing this because you value ____. They might heckle you more, but just keep moving forward. They are not worth lessening your values and progress.
So what can we do about it? Here are some steps to help.
- Identify: I say this in every article, but it’s important to recognize what you are doing and the deeper reasons that are holding you back. You can’t fix anything if you don’t know the problem.
- Values: What do you value in trying to achieve your goal? Your values are going to help you push through the risks. It is harder to push through potential social pain without a larger value and purpose. So don’t make it hard on yourself, know your values and purpose for your goal.
- God Values You: There might be some vulnerability or risk, but know that God loves you regardless. He delights in you. Depending on you life story, truths like these might be hard to hear but they are important to hear and embody. It doesn’t matter what risk you are taking, at the end of the day God still loves you. You are still his creation. Jesus, was still sent to die as a sacrifice for your shortcomings.
- Social Foundations: It is really helpful to have a core group of people that you can depend on to encourage you when you are taking social, emotional, or physical risks. They can act as a safety net, and a helpful aid to keep moving forward through the risk.
I know being vulnerable and asking for help is hard and painful at times, but it is an important skill to develop throughout your health journey. It will help you spiritually in depending on God. It will help you socially to develop deeper relationships and encourage the people around you. Lastly it will help you in your physically try something new. In the long run, the risk of being vulnerable will be worth the hardship. So let us be vulnerable.
As always, it is a pleasure to write to you all.
Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. New York: Gotham Books, 2012.