There is no courage without vulnerability. What does that mean to you? For me, it covers things like asking for help, admitting defeat, setting boundaries, self-awareness.
I’m the kind of person that comes across - from what I’ve been told – as confident and secure. Which are the last words I would use to describe myself. A visiting relative commented recently that I never seem to get stressed, which was literally laughable to me because I was about to lose my damn mind with the hectic plans I was in the middle of. And because I love and trust this person I was able to say that. But for anyone else I might have just smiled beatifically and accepted the compliment!
Brene Brown, a renowned researcher, thought leader and author, has beautifully articulated the connection between vulnerability and courage.
“Our society, often promotes perfectionism and the fear of making mistakes. These ideals can stifle authenticity, creativity, and growth. However, embracing vulnerability allows us to break free from these constraints and approach life with courage.
By acknowledging that we cannot control the outcome of every situation, we open ourselves up to the possibility of failure, rejection, or disappointment. Through vulnerability, we find the strength to persevere, take risks, and face adversity head-on.
Vulnerability provides us with the opportunity to show up as our authentic selves. It encourages us to question the status quo, speak up against injustices, and advocate for change. When we allow ourselves to be seen, flaws and all, we create space for dialogue, understanding, and progress.
Moreover, vulnerability fosters empathy and connection. When we share our authentic selves with others, we create a sense of belonging and forge deeper relationships. By demonstrating vulnerability, we inspire others to do the same, creating a ripple effect that can break down barriers and build bridges creating multiple safe spaces where people can just be.”
Brene Brown's powerful statement serves as a reminder that vulnerability is not a weakness to be avoided but rather a strength to be embraced. It is the cornerstone of courage and the catalyst for personal growth, meaningful connections, and societal change. So, let us acknowledge and celebrate vulnerability as a transformative force that empowers us to show up, be seen, and make a difference.
As birth workers, being able to be vulnerable with your clients during one of their most vulnerable times fosters a bond that cannot be replicated and enables you to support them fully.
You cannot have vulnerability without having boundaries. Practicing the boundaries we hold with clients enables us to be vulnerable with the right people thus keeping us safe.
In the Side by Side Doula Preparation Course, we talk about boundaries for all doulas to ensure that we do not break the regulations set out for us in law - for example providing ’midwifery care’ without the proper qualifications and registration; boundaries for individuals – for example around hours of contact; and boundaries for lifestyle choices - for example vegetarians not wanting to handle meat products. And what to do to ensure those boundaries are set out clearly with clients from the start.
We also discuss how to empathetically connect with your clients, without expecting the same from them. After all, this is a working relationship and most of the time that means that the support only goes one way, from you to them. That is what they are paying you for. Some clients become friends after the working relationship has finished, but not all. And that’s totally fine. We are there to meet their needs and it is important for you to have people in your own life who are meeting yours.
Who in your life can you be vulnerable with? Do you have a partner, relative or friend who you can truly unmask in front of? Maybe a counsellor or a mentor? Or even a journal to express your deepest thoughts and feelings. However you do it, the act of being vulnerable can really help you to know and love yourself more. Which is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.
And remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the strength to do something even when you’re afraid.