It’s only natural to do everything you can to keep yourself safe.
When you get in the car, you put on your seatbelt. When you ride a bike, you wear a helmet. When you go out on a long hike — or even a long trip to the mall — by yourself, you double check to make sure you have a phone on you in case something happens and you need to get in touch with a loved one. Even if you’re not aware of it, you’re constantly setting up practical safeguards to make sure that nothing bad happens to you as you move through your life.
And it’s not just your physical body! This happens with your feelings, too… because even though you can’t exactly put a cast or a splint on your heart, it really, really hurts when it’s broken. Unfortunately, we’ve all been through it, whether as a result of a bad breakup, the loss of a friendship, a weird bout of cyberbullying, or even just a thoughtless comment from someone at the office.
To help combat that heartbreak, we all have our safeguards — and as with the physical measures we mentioned before, you probably don’t even think about them. You subconsciously put the brakes on in relationships (fans of The Bachelor franchise probably know this better as “putting up walls”). You’re never quite comfortable sharing all of your secrets with a friend. You don’t leave yourself open for random conversations with co-workers or new acquaintances at a party. When you do these things, you at least minimize the chance that your heart gets hurt. And even if you can’t eliminate that possibility altogether, at least you can work the odds in your favor, right?
We understand. Getting your feelings hurt, well, hurts. It can take weeks (or months! or years!) of therapy, ice cream out of the carton, and good cries to overcome it. Who has the time?
It makes sense to do whatever you can to protect your heart, and since we’re your biggest cheerleaders over here, we certainly want to support your efforts to say “thank u, next” to heartbreak. But what if all of the efforts you’re making to build up those walls are also keeping you from getting in on the fun that comes from being just a teensy bit vulnerable? It’s a trade-off.
Vulnerability is having a moment in the spotlight thanks to Brené Brown, whose 2014 Ted Talk on the subject launched her career as a writer and speaker to a new level. She has a Netflix special now, so we guess you could say that she’s really made it — and people are really starting to talk about what she has to say! We interpret her thoughts on vulnerability in terms of protecting your heart… but not too much. Here are some of her quotes that we think will get your wheels turning on how to strike that balance:
“Numb the dark and you numb the light.”
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability.”
“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Bulldoggers, protect your heart… but not too much, because you risk losing out on a whole lot. And if our argument for vulnerability doesn’t quite convince you, then at least you can trust Brené.
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Neon heart photo: Jiroe/Unsplash; Brené Brown photo: SpeakersOffice