Lesson #57: The Power of Vulnerability

Circles of Life hand stamped ring — ‘love’

I’ve listened to Brene Brown’s talk on The Power of Vulnerability (on Audible) a few times now. I love the simple and wholesome wisdom and humour she shares. Here are some notes I took:


We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known. And when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something that we give or get, its something that we nurture and grow .. a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they’re acknowledged, healed and rare.


The innate human desire to be a part of something larger than us. Because this desire is so primal we often try to acquire it by fitting in and seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it.
True belonging only happens when we present our authentic imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance.

The primary barrier to cultivating belonging = fitting in

- shame
- self worth
- vulnerability
- judgement
- fear
- comparison

Authenticity mantra:

Vulnerability mantra:


The wholehearted absolutely cultivate rest and play. They rest more than the rest of us rest and they play more than the rest of us play.

Adult play is important.

What gets in the way of play or rest?

Shame tapes you have to overcome to play ..

  • not enough
    - not doing enough
    - get your work done
    - lazy
    - perfectionism
    - there’s more where that came from
    - what will people think
    - need the money
    - I haven’t earned it
    - exhaustion as a status symbol
    - productivity as self worth

Love and belonging

To have a deep sense of love does not just mean the capacity to love other people. It means a deep sense of being loveable.

Men and women who have a deep sense of love and belonging have a deep sense they are worthy of love and belonging.

People who live from a place of deep sense of love and belonging make different choices.

Wholehearted folks embrace vulnerability.

Brene’s upbringing messages: Don’t let anyone too close. Always have an exit strategy.

“It started to dawn on me that .. social work was not about fixing people. It was about being with people where they are and holding an empathic space for people to do their own work.”

“Very difficult for someone like me who prided themself on being right and knowing exactly what everybody else needed to be doing at all times.”

“How much we know ourselves is extremely important. But how we treat ourselves is the most important.”

Whole-hearted people

Whole-hearted people:
- fool around
- sleep
- creative (ALL creative)
- engage with their vulnerability


Vulnerability is the centre of difficult emotion. But it’s also the birthplace of every positive emotion that we need in our lives. Love, belonging, joy, empathy.

In order to be truly empathic I have to step into what you are feeling, and that’s vulnerable. So there can be no empathy without vulnerability.

Innovation and creativity .. born of vulnerability.

Politicians — why is there no accountability? Because there’s no vulnerability,

Accountability is vulnerable

Accountability is very simple. 3 things — authenticity, action and amends. This is what I did, this is how I fix it, and how I’m going to make amends. All three of those are vulnerable.

A summary of what is explored in this audio book:
- what is vulnerability
- why is it essential for wholehearted living
- what drives our fear of being vulnerable
- bust vulnerability myths (like vulnerability is weakness)
- how we’re protecting ourselves from vulnerability (the armoury)
- what is the armour
- why do we put it on
- how do we take it off
- 10 guideposts of wholehearted living



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Orly Grace

Orly Grace

Orly Grace writes lessons from life to inspire and empower. See her other creations at www.circlesoflife.net