Let's say that after reading a few articles about the benefits of yoga, you decide to try it yourself. You buy a mat, find a nearby class, and put on some stretchy pants. But when you get to the studio and see other students walking confidently in, their mats slung over their shoulders, you begin to feel strange. Your heart rate speeds up, your palms grow sweaty, and you think, Why in the world did I ever think I could do this?
This shaky feeling is vulnerability, and it makes you want to turn around and go home, where you can escape the potential judgment of others and your own fear of the unfamiliar.
But by pushing through those doors, you are doing something far more healthy and transformative, according to Brené Brown, a professor and vulnerability researcher at the University of Houston. In fact, "vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences," she says.
Dr. Brown recently visited the University of Minnesota as a speaker for the Center for Spirituality and Healing's Wellbeing Series and shared some of the insights that come from her research. After twelve years studying vulnerability and shame, she has arrived at a surprising conclusion: what scares us is sometimes actually good for us, and if we can stomach sitting with it, vulnerability has the potential to transform itself into joy.