In Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, she describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”

How often do you find yourself having a conversation on a superficial level? How often do you expose only your “happy” self to the world? How often do you hold in your thoughts, ideas, and needs for fear of rejection or criticism? My friends and I have been talking about this lately, experiencing various life stressors and looking at the state of our society with racism, sexism, violence, greed, political rhetoric. We ask how we can be better, how we can contribute to a better world.

We are all vulnerable. Life in itself involves risks and therefore involves vulnerability. Yet shame and fear keep us from being vulnerable, keep us from putting ourselves “out there” so to speak, keep us from truly showing up at life’s table.

Being vulnerable is being courageous. It is the heart of human experience and connection. It allows us to be truly authentic. This year will mark my 40th birthday and I seem to be pondering life more lately. I think maybe that is what I am looking for, living a more authentic and real existence.

Vulnerability is loving others and allowing ourselves to be loved. Vulnerability is putting our ideas out into the world regardless of other’s reactions. Vulnerability is reaching out to a friend when we are feeling down and need a listening ear. Vulnerability is starting your own business. Vulnerability is saying no and protecting our time. Vulnerability is calling a sick friend when you don’t know what to say. Vulnerability is having tough conversations about tough issues.

Take a moment to think about one way that you can be more authentic by being vulnerable. Make that your focus this week rather than the hoopla of Valentine’s Day cards or finding just the right gift for someone.

I also highly recommend Brene Brown’s Ted talks, greatly worth your time.

“What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?” Brene Brown