Being vulnerable is one of the most challenging things for humans to do and many of us shy away from it for good reason — it's scary!
But it is also a vital part of the human experience and children are faced with opportunities to practice vulnerability all day long at school: when the teacher calls on them to demonstrate a math problem on the board, when they are assigned to give a speech, when they are asked to read aloud in front of the class, or when they want to ask a friend to do a play date.
We can all learn how to step into vulnerability and practice sharing our hearts and inner selves with others. One major way children learn how to be vulnerable is by observing the adults around them. They are constantly watching us and learning from how we interact with others.
So, how willing are you to be vulnerable? How often do you risk saying how you really feel? When are you better able to be vulnerable and with whom? Do you share your thoughts and feelings easily?
Start thinking about those questions and notice areas and places in which you are more or less willing to be vulnerable. If there are ways in which you'd like to risk more vulnerability, take small risks and see how it feels.
I recently finished reading Brene Brown's fantastic book Braving the Wilderness, and in it she presents a phrase that I love so much: Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.
What does she mean by this?
That we can learn how to stand up for ourselves and be grounded in our truth (strong back), that we can practice letting our soft and squishy inner selves be seen (soft front), and that the most important thing is to be willing to speak our truth even if it means standing alone (wild heart).
When you practice being vulnerable, you're teaching your child how to have those three crucial things. It is messy and painful and beautiful and necessary. And it is one of the best parts of life.