Listening to Vulnerability

A funny thing happened on the way home…

My son and I were making our daily drive home from school.  After we had gotten thru the mundane stuff, mainly me asking about tonight’s homework, he confided that a fellow student had been getting on his nerves.  I invited him to “go on, tell me more.”  But, as he was  telling me about this kid making loud and embarrassing wisecracks about my son’s football practice and playing, I was in full-on “protect my young” mode and ready to pounce and make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.  As my son was being vulnerable with me, I was preparing a list of teachers and coaches that I would be emailing about this situation AS SOON AS I ARRIVE home!  And then, it happened….

In her wonderful new book, Daring Greatly,   Brene Brown talks about how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead. She talks about vulnerability as the fear of uncertainty and how it drives us to action…drives us to do whatever it takes to move away from this uncomfortable/dreadful feeling. Daring Greatly means taking action by owning our feelings, and allowing things to unfold organically (instead of trying to control the outcome!).

My “call to arms” reaction was motivated by the uncomfortable/dreadful feelings in the pit of my stomach–  my feelings of helplessness and my desire to get away from those feelings as fast as possible….yep, in that moment it became all about me and not about my son!

When we use all of our energy to ignore and deny our vulnerable inner voice, we end up also having to ignore what is truly happening in the moment…and miss opportunities for connections and genuine understanding of others’ feelings.

And then, it happened…when I listened and (quietly) acknowledged  my inner vulnerability, I was able to appreciate my son’s risk in confiding in me and was genuinely able to hear and experience his vulnerability.  My authentic “call to arms” came when I responded by asking, “What would you like me to do?”

Finding Your Balance:

In an earlier blog, I wrote about being aware of your red flags….those  alerts that let us know that we are reacting instead of responding, pushing away instead of engaging.  The next time you have the urge to run away, change the subject, take control or talk someone out of their feelings- be curious about your own feelings of vulnerability in that moment.  Be curious about the connection that is possible when you allow yourself to feel vulnerable with those whom you love.

P.S. my son responded “I want you to just listen.”  As I just listened, I discovered how my son  felt about the situation, his perception of the other kid’s behavior and how he  planned to deal with the situation!  I experienced my son as his authentic self. Funny what you learn about others when you are able to listen to your vulnerability.

Posted: Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 @ 4:13 pm
Categories: Balance, Change.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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One Response to “Listening to Vulnerability”

  1. jennifer wurth Says:

    As always, great advice!! I find myself often trying to control situations when I should just LISTEN. Thanks for the reminder! jenny

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