Guest blog written by Bethan Davies, The Bravest Path
Last Saturday over 60 members of the DevelopHer community joined us at Qubit in Covent Garden to explore Dr Brené Brown’s research into vulnerability and to consider this question – where do I want to show up, be seen and live brave?
The content was taken from our workshops The Daring WayTM and Rising StrongTM and focused on vulnerability, defined as risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure. The media bombards us daily with messages that suggest that vulnerability is something to avoid – even to be ashamed of – but I’m yet to meet anyone who lives a life without these three aspects.
The paradox is that when we see vulnerability in others, we are often inspired. Yet we feel ashamed when we recognise it in ourselves. It is also one of the first things we will look for when we meet someone, yet the last thing we want anyone to identify in ourselves.
Brené’s research includes over 13,000 individual examples of vulnerability, and each one is an act of courage, not weakness – such as starting your own business, expressing an unpopular opinion, falling in love, saying no, or having a difficult conversation.
Vulnerability is courage, not weakness. And on Saturday, members of the DevelopHer community courageously leant into the discomfort of uncertainty and explored what living brave means to them.
We looked at the 4 commonly held myths of vulnerability;
Myth #1: Vulnerability is a weakness.
Dr Brené Brown’s research includes over 13,000 examples of vulnerability and not one was an act of weakness. Every example of vulnerability was an act of courage.
Myth #2: I can opt out of vulnerability.
To be alive is to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure – and these are present in our lives whether we like it or not.
Myth #3: Vulnerability is oversharing.
Boundaries are key! Vulnerability is sharing with those who have earned the right to hear your story. It’s not blurting personal details across social media, or “floodlighting”, which means sharing intimate details with someone who you have just met to hotwire connection.
Myth #4: I can go it alone.
We romanticise the idea of individualism, and the fact remains that if we are going to be brave enough to step into the unknown without guarantees, then we will sometimes get knocked down. Vulnerability is about being able to ask for the help to get back up and go again, building resilience. We are neurobiologically hardwired for connection.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.” – Dr Brené Brown
The second half of the workshop focused on how we often hold back from doing something because of a fear of judgment from others. We used the metaphor of an arena, and a seating plan to understand whose opinions really matter to us. What the critics (internal) and people in the cheap seats (external) have to say shouldn’t count. Instead, it’s those sat in our support seats, who know something of what it is to be in our arena and are willing to offer empathy rather than judgement, who really matter. The focus should be on listening to feedback from people who we trust and respect, rather than those who share criticism without being brave themselves.
We finished by looking at the three ways we ‘armour up’ in an effort to protect ourselves from being brave and feeling vulnerable when we are in our arenas.
Perfectionism – Attempting to both be and do things perfectly in the hope of avoiding the judgement of others and feeling not enough in some way.
The difference between perfectionism and healthy striving comes down to one question – who are you doing this for? When driven by what will others think rather than striving for excellence, it can be paralysing and stop us from moving forward.
Foreboding Joy – Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience.
How often do we miss the opportunity to dance in the moment and celebrate success because we are already catastrophising about the future? We shared findings that people who had the most profound capacity for joy were those who practiced gratitude and leaning into the vulnerability of being in the moment.
Numbing – Trying to take the edge off the feeling of discomfort from risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure.
We frequently try to numb through eating, working, sex, drugs, alcohol, so we can avoid leaning into the feelings of discomfort to move forward.
The day also helped raise awareness of the coaching and development programme The Bravest Path are running in partnership with DevelopHer. The successful applicants will be going far deeper into these concepts and the wider research as part of their group work and individual coaching. The program culminates in a Courage Speakeasy in July where participants will share their journey, their brave actions and what they have learnt with the rest of the DevelopHer community.
There are only 15 spaces and applications end this Thursday 1st March 2018 – if you are interested please fill out the application form here and attach your application documents! Application deadline is Thursday, 1st March 2018.
This programme will help you:
- take steps to realise your aspirations and make changes in your life
- feel braver and more confident
- have greater clarity on your purpose and areas that make your life meaningful
- act authentically in a way that’s consistent with your values
- understand whose opinion really matters to you, and let go of pleasing others
- have a greater self-awareness of what holds you back and what moves you forward
- feel more connected to a network of other brave women within DevelopHer
Read more about the coaching programme in detail here.
A huge thank you to DevelopHer for welcoming us so warmly to your community, Qubit for their generous hosting, and all the participants, it was a pleasure and privilege to work with you.
Bethan is the co-founder of The Bravest Path, a coaching and facilitation organisation helping individuals, teams and organisations develop greater courage, compassion and connection. www.thebravestpath.com
Photo credit: Lauren Walsh.