Sometimes it feels like the term vulnerability has become a bit of a buzz word. Every time I’m on social media I read about people claiming to be vulnerable with the expectation that doing so will change their lives.

And practiced thoughtfully, vulnerability has the power to do just that.

But then there are the posts from people about every shitty thing that ever happened them, laced with blame and resentment. And the comments are seldom helpful because people we connect with on Facebook don’t really have any investment in us other than as a “friend”, something that could change with any given post or comment. Sorry duddettes, while everyone has the right to live their life as they see fit, those kinds of posts miss the real value of practicing vulnerability.

Vulnerability came from the understanding of shame and how it keeps us from living our best lives as our best selves. Thank you so many times over, Brene Brown!

Think about this for yourself. What happens when you are in the midst of a shame shit storm about something you did? You hide right? Or at the very least, you hide your action that caused that shit storm.

I have had many, many shame shit storms in my life. The biggest one was being part of a car crash that involved a pregnant woman who was very close to delivery. The result was a question whether or not that wee babe would be born prematurely. While I didn’t know for sure my role in causing the accident, just to have been part of something that could have hurt a child was shame a million times over. Thankfully, the mother and her baby were just fine, something I was incredibly grateful for.

Why was that a shameful experience for me? It was an accident, right? Because no one loves or accepts someone who risks hurting a child. At least that was the story I told myself.

And that’s the crux of shame. It’s all about things that are or may be true to us that don’t fit with what other people expect of us. Read…the woman who cheats on her spouse, the woman who yells at her kid in public, the women who gets fired, the woman who makes a mistake in judgement, the woman who doesn’t measure up to the next door neighbour.

I heard a woman getting slammed on the radio the other day because she wondered on Facebook if it was ok to kick her bridesmaid from her wedding because she still had a belly from just having a baby. The world seemed to rise up in defence of the new mama who was effectively publicly shamed for being too fat for her gown. But the woman who made the original post would have experienced a similar shame storm after people got finished telling her what a terrible person she was to have even considered what she posted.

We can’t avoid the behaviour or the opinions of others that result in being shamed. It seems like we are in a social period where everyone jumps on the bandwagon to go after someone who is different. It’s a tough time for us humans when we allow ourselves to become separate instead of equal.

As is true for everything in our lives, we can only manage ourselves and our responses to feelings of shame. And we can do that by learning how to be truly vulnerable when the storm(s) hit.

Vulnerability isn’t about the colour of your underwear on any given day, or about blaming others for whatever place you’re in right now. It’s about your shame story, current or past. It’s about your experience with shame.

It’s about opening the doors of your shame storm and letting in others who have earned the right (again, thank you Brene) to hear your story. People who you trust to hear you without judgement…any judgement. People who don’t try to fix you but listen with empathy, understanding and love.

It’s going to your place of shame and sharing with another human being who gets it, letting people get close enough to see your pain points. It’s about being honest about whatever happened, how it left you feeling, and what it’s left you believing about yourself.

It’s a pair of arms, or several pairs of arms, that hold you tight until the storm subsides.

So instead of ranting on Facebook about things that may successfully get us plenty of attention, let’s start talking. Face to face. One to one, in tribes, or in groups. Let’s be choosy about who we are vulnerable with and what we share, with the goal to help ourselves truly heal from a shit shame storm.

Go back to your worst shame story. How would being truly vulnerable about it have lessened your pain?

Go for it.