Embracing Vulnerability

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‘Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.’

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown


I was reminded of the above quote about a week or so ago when I came face to face with my own vulnerability.

I awoke after a night of crazy dreaming. I did not recall the content of my dreams yet my whole body was telling me they were crazy, running the gamut of the emotional spectrum! And while I did not feel physically tired, I did feel emotionally tapped out. I had a full day ahead of me and knew that this morning of all mornings, I would not skip meditating; I would need to fuel and center myself before setting off for the day.

As I came out of my meditation, a strange mix of feelings began to wash over me. These were unsettling, unfamiliar yet all too familiar, and I realized it was the leading edge of a full-blown panic attack!

Who me? It has been so long since I have experienced one of these that I had almost forgotten the physical manifestations: rapid heart beat, shallow breathing, twisting gut, waves of nausea, a sense of doom & gloom just ahead yet out of sight, and for a brief moment, a feeling that I might even black out. It is amazing how our bodies remember and easily mix up the same chemical concoction related to an emotional experience no matter how long it has been in between episodes!

And so, I dug into my tool box and began to focus on my breathe, deepening and slowing it down, feeling my heart return to its natural rhythm, and the nausea gone until I knew the leading edge of the attack had receded and was lingering on the outer edge of my awareness.

At this point I could have asked what the hell, why is this happening, what does it all mean?!?!?! And yet, my initial response was, ‘whoa, haven’t visited here in a long time!’ Followed quickly by a chuckle about the whole idea of doom and gloom just ahead! You see, I know that my future does not hold any ‘doom and gloom’. No, I am not saying it will be all butterflies, rainbows, and unicorns…what I know is that the future is filled with possibilities, some I can imagine, most I cannot, and therein lies the adventure!

That is not to say that I did not have a conversation with my self about this experience, I just did not do it then. I had a full day ahead of me and I wanted to be fully present for each and every moment.

Later that evening, and at different times over the next several days, I did revisit the morning’s event from the perspective of an observer. What I came to realize is that there is a big change a coming – when, I don’t know; what, I cannot predict nor do I want to try! I choose to live in the present moment, taking small action steps towards my dreams while staying open to the unfolding and enfolding of the Universe.

So, I will acknowledge that the potential for a panic attack continues to hang out on the fringe of my awareness, but not invite it in any closer, for that type of experience no longer serves me and I choose not to go there, even for the briefest of visits!

I shared this with a couple of close friends and the women in the RENEW Empowerment Group I am facilitating. Why, why share with them, with you? Why expose this aspect of me? As I invite these women to explore new ways to think, new beliefs to install, to understand their own divinity and power to create the lives of their dreams, I know the ability to relate to me, to develop connection will enhance this journey we are on together. And while they, and others, may perceive me to be this uber-positive and strong individual, I am here to tell you that I am vulnerable, I have my moments; I am no different or better than they or anyone else. We all are in this together, and together we are making ‘shift’ happen!

‘As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We put on armor; we used our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection – to be the person whom we long to be – we must be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen.’

                                                                                    Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

I invite you shed your armor, put down your weapons, show up, be seen, and shine your own divine light…there are many out there seeking the wisdom that you have to share.

8 thoughts on “Embracing Vulnerability

  1. Thanks for sharing this so generously, MJ. Why NOT share it is my question. We need share with each other…especially our vulnerability…in order to support each other and in order to know that we are not alone. It takes courage to be open and to be fully seen. I applaud your willingness to be seen and I’m honored to be the recipient of your generosity of spirit.

    1. Thank you Franne! And I agree, why not share? Sharing let’s others know they are not alone on their journey through life!

  2. Beautiful. Profound. Well written. Honest. Thank you for sharing this story MJ. It is a wonderful reminder…

  3. I love this Mary Jo!!! Your writing is very authentic and inspired. Opening up your raw “self” encourages others to courageously do so themselves! Thank you

  4. Thank you, MJ! I really identified with much of this, and so appreciated your candor and process through the experience. I am in a similar place… BIG changes are underway, and I have no idea how things will be looking in even 6 months from now… But, I absolutely love the relief, beauty, and freedom that comes with letting go of the details, and staying open to possibilities ahead! In the meantime, I am taking those small action steps, too!

    What a gift you are! Thank you for sharing the journey with all of its thrills, chills, and bumps!

    1. I get it Phoenix, I am not certain what will be happening in 1 month and yet I eagerly await the unfolding!

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