My word for 2016 is vulnerable. If I can be perfectly honest in a nonjudgmental way, this is hard. When I first heard that being vulnerable was actually “in,” I was confused. Brene Brown has written books and been on tv talking about it, and I just couldn’t get it. Why would anyone think that being vulnerable is ok?
In 2007, my ex-husband and I separated after seven years of marriage. With all of the many other things that make divorce hard, there was one thing that I didn’t realize happened in the early part of 2008.
I became guarded. I started to limit the number of people I trusted. No man had a fair chance at having anything that remotely resembled a decent, romantic relationship with me.
My heart had hardened. It would stay that way for the next seven years.
There have been a few times in the not too distant past that I have been challenged to be vulnerable and I have just flat out refused. Well, as much as I could anyway. Let me tell you right now though, I learned that you really can’t refuse to be vulnerable, and trying to do so will just make you feel worse. Let’s look at the instances I tried…and y’all, I tried hard.
1. The divorce. No matter how you slice and dice it, divorce is hard. Even when it’s for the best, even when your not the one at fault, even when you should be rejoicing instead of crying. My divorce was no different. It made me vulnerable and raw to my core. Because the pain cut so deep, I thought that people could see just how hard I was taking the demise of my marriage. To avoid being vulnerable, I kept our separation secret until after we moved. Then, I sent an email to all my friends explaining our current relationship status and made myself really busy when they would call so no one would hear the crack of heartbreak in my voice.
2. The cancer. Let’s take a brief look at my cancer event of 2013. It was exactly two years ago this week that I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. For a couple of weeks, though, we didn’t have the exact diagnosis, we just knew it was cancer and somewhat related to the thyroid. The diagnosis went from thymoma to lymphoma to thyroid lymphoma to finally thyroid cancer. In case you don’t know this, hearing a doctor say, “We need to talk and I need to shoot straight with you” brings nothings but vulnerability to the situation. Except for me, the girl who is anti-vulnerable. So in true Toni fashion, even though I was scared, sick and sad, I did what I always have done and put on a brave face covered in strength to hide my vulnerability. Now, let me tell you this. I truly believe that two important parts of any health crisis are 1. positive thinking, and 2. eating healthy. However, I can now honestly say that I used my “positive thinking” rule to cover up the vulnerability.
This time, though, my coping plan didn’t work so well. The fact that I physically felt bad and fatigued a lot ensured the fact that I couldn’t cover up a lot of the truth, meant I needed to be vulnerable. Well, at least a little bit.
3. When the seizures came back. When my sweet first born was two years old, we were playing at home one afternoon and he fell over in convulsions . After a lot a medical tests and hospital stays, he was diagnosed with epilepsy. After three years, the seizures subsided and we didn’t see any activity until he turned 13. But six months after I was deemed cancer free, the seizures came back. And this time, I felt since I had just been vulnerable earlier that year, I didn’t need to be vulnerable again.
I’ve learned that vulnerability doesn’t operate on a calendar. You cannot decide how many times a year you should be vulnerable. If you are hurt, you are vulnerable. If you were taken advantage of, you are vulnerable, and if you are in love, you are vulnerable. If you are alive, you are vulnerable. And that’s okay.
While I mentioned three of the big hints in my life to embrace vulnerability, I need to tell you that there were several more smaller hints that I just didn’t catch. Looking back, there were moments almost every day where I choose to hide my vulnerability.
Enter the need for one word.
At the end of each year, I reflect on the word from that year and the important events that shaped my life during the previous 12 months. I then enter a place of prayer and meditation where I ask God to send me more word or phrase for the coming year. And as He knows my struggles, that phrase was be vulnerable. Fyi, if you have a good relationship with God, it’s okay to fuss and fight with him over something he’s charged you to do. The key is that you must submit to His will and decide to do it. So after I fussed and cried and fussed some more. I decided to embrace the concept.
Since I’ve opened myself up to the idea and started exploring the concept more, incredible things have happened in my life. Hmmmm…we’ve only been in 2016 for 11 days and I’m already seeing results. And you know what else? Brene Brown has a new fan in me.
I truly believe that this wouldn’t be my word if I wasn’t meant to help others, so I’ve created a free blog challenge using the hashtag #bevulnerable. I’d really like you to join!
If you want to work through the process of accepting vulnerability and experiencing the shift in the universe that occurs when you are vulnerable, then this challenge is for you.
And even if you don’t join the challenge, I’ve got a little gift for you. Click here to access a free printable with a quote on the importance of vulnerability. If you do join the challenge, I’ll send our daily tasks and items for exploration via email. I’m also creating a secret Facebook group for us to work in and there will even be videos and other fun items I am sharing. To sign up for the challenge, click here.
The biggest fear I faced when I decided to allow myself to #bevulnerable was that I would be judged by others. That was really hard for me (and frankly it still is) because I try so hard not to judge other that when I feel judged, I feel attacked personally. So needless to say, this challenge is a judgement-free zone. We are going to do the work and see what manifests as a result of it.
Tell me in the comments below, what impact does the phrase “be vulnerable” have on your life?
If you’re a little unsure about this whole vulnerability thing, I would suggest you start with researching the work of Brene Brown. I started by watching this Ted Talk and eventually reading this book. Good luck!