Written by Amber Fuller, LMFT, Clinic Director, and owner of Fuller Living
Wait?! What?! Why in the world would you put those two words together? Vulnerability and resolutions? What in heaven’s name do those things have in common?!
I’m so excited to share! If a person knows me and pays any attention to the things I say, how I live my life, or what I say to others, they will quickly see that I’m a strong advocate of being vulnerable and the power that comes with it. I believe that healing happens through vulnerability. In terms of resolutions, the other thing that can happen through vulnerability, is GROWTH! Isn’t that what resolutions are all about? Growth? I want to get better at some thing=I want to grow in this area. I believe that one of the best things you can do for yourself this holiday season is to find that area that you would feel SO uncomfortable sharing with your world, and make a goal out of it.
I know that it can be SUPER uncomfortable to share the things you’re struggling with, with others. I think that you need to pick your audience wisely, or really lay out the effects/consequences of sharing something publicly and not caring who knows if you’re going to share that area of your life to a mass audience. I think it’s important to identify a couple of things. First, it’s important to walk through what exactly vulnerability is, second, it’s important to tackle how to pick your audience, and lastly, it’s important to highlight how to maintain your growth.
What is vulnerability?
“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”-Brene Brown
Right, she gets all of the quotes when it comes to vulnerability. There is no such thing as an “original idea” because this world has been around for far to long to come up with one, however, Brene Brown gets to be dubbed as Mrs. Vulnerability for probably the next 100 years. If you’re looking for some good reads on vulnerability, check her stuff out. I love this quote that she shares with us. It reminds me of an experience that I shared with all of facebook that I went through. You see, I have a 3 year old and when he was born I was stricken with terrible Perinatal mood and anxiety disorder symptoms (PMADS). The biggest symptom being panic attacks. I had never had them before giving birth to my little guy but once having them, I knew exactly what they are, and they were absolutely terrible. Last week I was suppose to have a surgical procedure done and I got all checked in and dressed for surgery and then got hit with a panic attack and found myself running out of the room as quick as I could while sobbing in my husbands arms. I was so embarrassed and I felt so much shame over this shameless thing. For me, I felt like a ridiculous fool. I was so uncomfortable with my own actions. I knew the only way to work it out was to bring my secret into the light and share with others, and that’s exactly what I did...four days ago. I still feel SO uncomfortable talking about it, writing about it, letting the whole world in on the inner workings of this brain. That, my friends, is what vulnerability is. I don’t mean to toot my horn by throwing out this example, I just use the example because it highlights vulnerability SO well. I literally texted a very small amount of people (like 3) after the incident happened and told them, and I quote, “I’m only sharing this with a small handful of people...” and it was in saying this that I Was telling on myself, and telling to myself, exactly what I needed to do. A lovely and nurturing friend of mine said, “give yourself some grace, Amber”...and those words are what carried me into being able to tell all of facebook my story. The power of grace. Which is also needed when working on those resolutions, I might add. The sweaty palms, feelings of fear, and facing the feeling of possible regret was exactly what was going on in my head as I updated my facebook post and let the world in. This. This is vulnerability. And do you want to know what I’m doing with this? I’m making a 2021 goal out of it. 2021 is the year that I’m kicking my panic attacks in the @##!
Wanna know what vulnerability isn’t? Have you ever been in the room with somebody that says something like, “I used to do drugs, but now I’m totally cool and my super cool life is a testimony to how I’ve been saved from drugs”. How exactly do you think the person who share’s this story is probably feeling? Probably super totally cool. Lol. And is one being vulnerable when sharing this? Well, I mean, it could be uncomfortable to think about who exactly ends up hearing the information and what they could do with it, but in general( anything can always be different) our victories aren’t a reflection of our vulnerabilities. If you’re a victor in an area that you’re talking about, then you’re not the vulnerable one in the room. The vulnerable one in the room is the “you” that was talking when you were still using drugs and struggling through it trying to get clean and sober. A personal (and immature, I’m sure) pet peeve of mine is when somebody acts like they’re being so totally vulnerable by sharing a PAST weakness of theirs that they are now a victor in. People do it ALL.THE. TIME. And it makes it harder for others to really truly be vulnerable. It makes the idea of vulnerability messy and confusing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s GREAT to be a victorious warrior that has conquered the battle grounds, and also, it’s not super scary to talk about. Think about it this way. If you break your leg and can’t walk on it, you’re technically “vulnerable” because of the physical weakness you have at that moment. You go to rehab, PT, doctors appointments, all the things and you’re then at a place where you can walk on your leg just fine and Kung fu kick your neighbor. If your leg is seen by others, are you vulnerable? No. You can stand on your own two feet just fine. And good for you, that’s awesome. And, you still aren’t vulnerable. It’s the same thing with our stories, personal weaknesses, sicknesses, struggles, mental health struggles...If you want to be the vulnerable one in the room, start sharing with the room something you’re currently struggling with, not something you’ve struggled with in the past.
Picking Your Audience
It’s really important to pick the audience well when considering who you share your current struggles with. Has the person been a good friend too? Are they trustworthy? Are they a gossiper? Do they talk about other people that aren’t in the room? These probably aren’t the people that you’re going to want to share your struggle with. When I decide who I’m going to share with I think about the people in my life who have spoken encouragement into an area that I’ve talked with them about. I also think about coaches. They aren’t there to make it about them and what they know or do, but rather, they are there to use what they know and do only to help you. They don’t give unsolicited advice. I think about people who haven’t done a “knowledge flex” on me. Don’t know what a knowledge flex is? A knowledge flex is when somebody is saying something like, “The guy that wrote that book has a deep love for cats and dogs” and then the person you’re talking to, who is hardly interested in what you’re saying in the first place then responds by saying something like, “Yeah. He also had a dog name George and a cat named Sal and when he called their names they came to him right away. And his wife hated both cats and dogs” and all of a sudden you’re finding that your topic of interest is being totally ransacked by this person who has this common sense knowledge that everybody else has and they are rambling on and on about all of the things that they “know” only to “flex” their “knowledge”. These are people that aren’t usually the safest to be vulnerable too. Share your weaknesses with somebody who really has a knack for making it about you when you’re talking to them and then has more of an explorative conversation with you about your weaknesses. You know who is great for conversations like these? *Amber whispers* “therapists”.
(This is suppose to be a picture of a therapist teaching me how to control my anxiety and breathing...lol...)
You’re finding your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and you’re sharing it with your picked out audience so that you can call it your New Years resolution and grow in that area. These things are really hard to say out loud. Personally, I’m making my weight a New Years resolution, and I’ve hand selected a few people who get to know the specifics of it and those people have the knowledge that I need in order to change my weight (and none of their knowledge has anything to do with caloric intake and deficit because I have a medical condition where none of that matters, but rather, these people have knowledge on weight and that medical condition). I also am working on my panic attacks this year and I decided that I was willing to face the consequence of sharing that I’m currently struggling with anxiety with all 852 of my facebook friends. Because you’re brave enough to share your struggle with somebody, you’re going to succeed and grow, even if it’s just a little. Like Brene Brown says, you’re a real badass, and that’ll take you somewhere.
When working out these vulnerabilities and working with your people on them, don’t just drop the bomb and then not pick it back up. Maintenance is really important and the best way to maintain, in my opinion, is through utilize a S.M.A.R.T. Goal. A smart goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It really helps a person to stay on track and not go to the way-side. I follow a major financial guru and one of his famous quotes is that a person isn’t successful with weight loss, typically, if they say something like, “meh. I think I maybe want to lose weight”. They are much more likely to lose weight when they identify the specific amount, the measurable time that it will take to get there based off of what is realistically attainable and as long as it is relevant to them.
I’m going to wrap up this non-linear blog post by saying that when you combine your area of vulnerability with a smart goal, you’re bound to be the person at the end of the year that gets to talk about how you achieved your New Years resolution. If you’re needing somebody to talk to about your vulnerability/weaknesses especially as it relates to your mental health, we would love to be there for you in this journey. We would love be able to celebrate with you at the end of the year because you tackled your anxiety and we would also love to tell you how much of a real badass you are for bringing your vulnerable self to our office. Vulnerable people are some of Fuller Living’s favorite kind of people.