Dare to be Well…vulnerable

The best protection any woman can have . . . is courage. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a coach for public speaking with Susan B. Anthony, who was a woman’s activist, leading and inspiring women to become acting subjects in their own destiny. There is a greater sense of well-being when we are in command of our own ship. Susan B. Anthony was an American women’s rights activist who is known for her association with the women’s suffrage movement, and certainly drew upon her courage in order to pioneer equality for women.

Today, Brene Brown also calls us to courage, and empathy, as an antidote to vulnerability and shame.  She speaks to the results of her research on vulnerability in her TED talk, and in her latest book Daring Greatly.   I have witnessed and experienced shame as a lethal undermining of well-being; one is held captive by secrecy, silence and judgment, basically as feeling “never good enough”.  Our culture, religions, and professional measures of success all feed into this dis-ease of epidemic proportions, no class of people immune to its effects.  We all try to do it all, try to do it perfectly, showing no weakness, competing to stay above the mire that shame can drag us into.  Guilt is a different feeling – it is about behavior.  Shame attacks the self, our being.  So the antidote must respond on the being level:  empathy for universal vulnerability, wholehearted embrace of our humanness.  We applaud those who take risks, who keep trying in spite of apparent failures, who persist in courageous steps forward.  We have a felt connection with this honest, authentic striving more than with the successful, perfectly done deed. We would rather witness someone who is daring greatly.  As Brene Brown states:  What we know matters, but who we are matters more.  Being requires…showing up and letting ourselves be seen.  It requires us to dare greatly, to be vulnerable.

So I say YES to courage – courage to face the fear of not being good enough but rather wholeheartedly keep trying, learning from your mistakes, carving out your destiny – embracing your vulnerability as the medium of change, the birthplace of creativity and empowerment in your life.  Embracing yourself with courage and empathy is the best protection you can have towards your well-being.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.         Theodore Roosevelt

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