V is for Vulnerability Being A Great Teacher

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Vulnerability can be a great teacher. Sometimes we learn valuable lessons about what is important in life.

Sometimes wisdom seeps into our bones and we apply the lessons in our lives. Other times we forget the messages. Let’s explore what we can gain from such times.

Recognising that vulnerability
can be a great teacher

Can you think of a time when you felt vulnerable? You may have suffered a debilitating illness, lost someone close, experienced an unexpected setback or whatever.

Suddenly you felt out of control. You felt unable to shape everything in your world. Certainly you aimed to control the controllables, but many levers lay beyond your reach.

What did you do next? After a while you may have begun to reflect, go deeper and listen to your soul.

“Everything is temporary, nothing is permanent,” we are told.

But it is when we feel vulnerable that this lesson strikes home. We have chance to consider what is important on life.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific time when you found that vulnerability was a great teacher.

Describe the specific things that were happening then that contributed to you feeling vulnerable.

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Brené Brown is a researcher who reached a wide audience with her famous TED Talk on vulnerability. After spending much of her career studying shame and vulnerability, Brené moved on and asked:

“What are the qualities demonstrated by people who live wholeheartedly?”

Such people are prepared to be real and live with their imperfections. They focus on joy and gratitude. They embrace the concept of abundance and love to give to others. They give themselves to life and are prepared to live with uncertainty.

Brené believes that people often grow from worthwhile struggles. She has written about how such people live wholeheartedly in her book Daring Greatly.

Below is Brené’s TED Talk on vulnerability. You can discover more at her web site.


Recognising your deepest values
during the vulnerable times

Sometimes we learn about our deepest values during times of vulnerability. Sometimes we also apply these lessons in the future.

“My wife suffered a serious illness,” explained one person.

“Then, to make matters worse, my job came under threat. So our income was threatened.

“My first reaction was to simply want everything to be like it was before.

“But then I realised that things had changed forever. We could give up or learn to manage the new reality.

“Starting to research her illness, we scoured the web for information and met with patient groups. This paid dividends. She eventually chose a specific form of treatment with a fine doctor.

“We also took stock of our assets – our finances, relationships, professional contacts and other resources. We soon realised how wealthy we were in real terms.

“We explored the possibility of downshifting. This would mean moving to another part of the country, perhaps near my partner’s parents, and starting a different kind of life.

“My wife recovered and the job survived. But we also heeded the lessons. One year later we moved closer to my partner’s parents.

“She returned to part time teaching, which she loves, and I set up my own business.

“Our daughter likes living in the country and has started doing part time work at a stable.

“Our son changed his chosen subjects at university. Rediscovering his youthful idealism, he plans to become an environmental journalist.”

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe what you learned during your vulnerable time.

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Following these values during
your less vulnerable times

“Near death experiences focus our minds,” we are told.

Our deepest learning is in our bones, however, not just our hearts or minds. Vulnerability can affect us on the primary level and teach us to re-evaluate our lives.

Sometimes we embrace the lessons, sometimes we don’t. Sages throughout history have journeyed into the wilderness to overcome hardship. They emerge humbler, stronger and wiser.

Sometimes, however, the wilderness comes to us. We then gather our forces, focus on what we can do and embrace lessons for the future.

Successes help us to grow, but so do setbacks. Vulnerability can be a great teacher.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific lessons from the vulnerable time that you can continue to apply in your life.

Describe the specific things you can do to apply these lessons.

Describe the specific benefits of applying these lessons in your life.

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