ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Finding a way to love our vulnerabilities

girlIn our culture, vulnerability can be seen as a weakness. Even the dictionary labels vulnerability as: “Susceptible to physical or emotional injury or susceptible to attack.” Many people are afraid of being vulnerable with themselves and with others due to social pressures, gender roles, and fear of feeling unaccepted.

We are challenging you to think differently.

Brené Brown, a research professor at the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work, has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She states that “Vulnerability is not weakness and that myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Then why do we struggle with vulnerability?

First of all, we numb ourselves. According to Brene Brown, “we are the most addicted, obese, in debt, and medicated adult cohort in history.” Unfortunately, we cannot selectively numb emotions. We cannot ignore fear, shame, vulnerability, and disappointment by pretending they don’t exist. When we ignore the bad feelings, we can escape by drinking, smoking, over eating, or isolating ourselves. The thing people don’t tell you is that you cannot numb the hard feelings without numbing the good feelings too. When we numb the bad feelings, we numb joy, gratitude, happiness. We then become miserable and look for meaning, which is why we reach for the beers or the smoke or the chocolate chip muffin, and it becomes a dangerous cycle. We do not just numb with addiction, we also pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on the people around us. Especially with texting and online chatting, we often forget that sarcasm is hard to read on the computer or phone, and we do not have visual access to body language that lets us know how someone interprets what we write. We pretend that what we are doing doesn’t have a huge impact on others.

How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness?

Turns out that when we welcome in vulnerability, we accept ourselves.

1. Have the courage to be imperfect. The word courage is from the Latin word cur- which means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. When we develop the courage to be kind to ourselves first, we have more kindness for others. When we are willing to let go of what others think of us, we end up expressing our most authentic self.

2. When feeling vulnerable, fully embrace it. Lean into the discomfort. You can do this by writing your thoughts down in a journal or sharing your feelings with a close friend or mentor. It may not be very easy to share, but if you are in a safe space, it will make you feel much better.

3. Practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, moments like when we are wondering “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this as passionately as I am? Can I be this fierce about this?” Instead of stopping and imagining what could go wrong, just to stop and say, “I am so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I am alive.”

4. The most important key to vulnerability is believing that we are enough. Brene Brown says that the one thing that keeps us out of our connection is our fear that we are not worthy of connection. When we work from a place that says I am enough, we are kinder to the people around us, and we are kinder to ourselves. When we believe we are worthy of love and belonging then we become worthy of love and belonging.