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How I Found the Hidden Power of Vulnerability

By March 3, 2016February 10th, 2017No Comments


The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Nelson Mandela

Last year, my dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and like a sports team before a big game, my family has rallied together with him to take on this fight with courage and commitment.

Of course, cancer is not a happy reason to come together. The past year has been filled with many emotions that have made it challenging to stay present.

Because of this, the practice of resilience has been really valuable to me. It’s enabled me to move out of reactivity and recover my resourcefulness in moments of stress.

Moments like meeting with the doctor to understand the seriousness of my dad’s illness, when I paid attention to my body’s reaction and remembered to breathe.

Moments like those before each chemotherapy appointment, when I spend a few minutes remembering happy times my dad and I have had together so I can be present and open to what he needs.

Moments like any one of his several surgeries, when I experienced a roller coaster of difficult emotions and still arrived at a place of gratitude.

As useful as resilience is, practicing it has not been easy. There were also many moments of snot-drenched bawling at night, rageful yelling at strangers who cut me off while I was driving, and scolding my dad when he tried to get out of bed after surgery.

In her book Rising Strong, Brené Brown says vulnerability is “having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome”. It is the process of facing what we are angry at or what we fear in order to transform it. The shift towards resourcefulness – the practice of resilience – cannot skip over the hurt.

That’s what this experience has taught me: the only path to resilience is to be vulnerable to my feelings and experiences. I can’t stuff the sadness or frustration away and become resilient. I must meet it, witness it, and sometimes even share it with others so that the hurt can know that it’s been tended to. Only then will it retreat so that my resourcefulness can return.

As my dad enters into another round of chemotherapy – the final leg of his treatment – I will continue to open the door to my emotions, and meet them with openness and vulnerability.

Because, while some may say vulnerability is the opposite of resilience, I believe it a key step towards inner strength.

Rockwood Community Call

Kiara Lee, MSW

holistic trauma healing coach, dynamic speaker, and valued consultant

July 28 * 12 PT / 3 ET