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Stephen Gorvett

Director, Body by Destiny

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Is there a balance between vulnerability and taking control?

I have just watched 'The Power of Vulnerability' talk by Brene Brown and I am eager to hear other people's thoughts on something which has been pulling me in opposite directions recently.

Throughout all of my personal development work these last few years I have explored many things from religion, to spirituality to NLP, life coaching, yoga and have spent a lot of time setting goals, visualising, creating plans and strategies and taking control of my life. I have been following Anthony Robbins closely, listening to his audios and attending seminars and one of his greatest quotes is "it's not the events in our lives that shape our destiny, it's our decisions" which makes me believe that we need to be very conscious of the decisions and actions we take from moment to moment.

I recently read a book summary of 'A Return To Love' by Marianne Williamson who talks a lot about vulnerability and surrendering (maybe not those words exactly but how I interpreted them) which I feel challenges my belief about being in control. After just watching this talk by Brene Brown I wanted to share my thoughts and hear other people's beliefs around this. Do you surrender your life and live moment to moment as it happens to you? Or do you take control of your life, set your goals, intentions and desires from day to day? Or is there a balance in these two aspects being complimentary? Hope this all makes sense and I look forward to the feedback, thanks

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    May 14 2013: I think of it more like steering a boat or raft over the waters. You can't control the water but you can explore interesting things by not just letting the vessel drift. A bit of drifting here and there, particularly by choice, can also lead you to unexpected interesting places.

    The talk posted yesterday by Meg Jay has a point of view on this as well. particularly for twenty-somethings.
  • May 14 2013: I like Fritzie's comment.

    I think it is important to keep in mind that we are all, ALWAYS, every moment, vulnerable and insecure. We can arrange our lives to minimize risk, but we can never remove it altogether.

    In part, the shock that much of the USA experienced after 9/11 was due to an illusion that is common in this country, that here we are secure from the violence that seems so common abroad. As long as the USA is free and open, we are also vulnerable. Personally, I just accept this as part of the price for living here.

    This also applies to emotional vulnerability, in a slightly different way. Emotionally, vulnerability is the price for caring. The only way to avoid it is to shut down your emotions and empathy and become a brick. That approach does not work. We have to live with vulnerability and we have to deal with the occasional (and sometimes often, even continual) hurt that is part of living as emotional beings.

    So no, I do not think it is a matter of balance. The waters are going to throw everything at you, and at times it will appear you are in control, especially after you have more experience. But sometimes the waters are way too rough to control, and you just have to do your best and hope for the best. In my opinion, when you start thinking you have control, you are deluding yourself. You can never know when someone will ram into your car. You can never know when that slight ache inside is cancer.
  • May 16 2013: You need to read up on some sex workers blogs.

    They have to make life or death decisions every hour, and then surrender to the consequences of them.

    Will be very illuminating on these very questions.

    http://redlightchicago.wordpress.com/how-to-be-an-ally-to-sex-workers/

    http://www.spreadmagazine.org/
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    May 14 2013: Thanks Fritzie and Barry, some great metaphors there and I appreciate you sharing your own thoughts and feelings. I totally agree and I also believe that this all comes down to faith and trusting in something greater than ourselves, that we can follow our own hearts and gut instincts in the moments but also being flexible in our approach and allowing for some direction changes that life may bring. Do you both believe that we are all guided in this life and that by being vulnerable we allow that higher power to be expressed?
    • May 14 2013: I'm a little curious as to what you mean by "being vulnerable" in everyday life terms. Are we talking about emotional openness in a relationship (my take on it) or something else entirely?

      Working off of what seems to be the general trend in this discussion: The only thing we have real control over is our own actions. I like what you said about the importance of your every decision. It's so true. Your everyday choices and habits will largely determine your happiness. All kinds of things can happen to us in life, but they don't have to affect our happiness. As long as we are doing the right thing and knowing that we're doing it, we can be happy regardless. It does come down to faith, though, that God will see your good effort and things will all work out in the end. Do we have scientific evidence to confirm this faith? Not at all. Who cares? I've seen it work in my life, the lives of my family, and many of my friends. That's good enough for me.
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        May 15 2013: I think overall, how vulnerability effects our lives as a whole but maybe more specifically our own personal missions / careers.

        I agree that we do not need scientific evidence to prove the miracles and grace of daily life, from the trillions of cells in our body's to every heartbeat. Would you say that you have developed your own system of beliefs and values Scot or do you a follow a path of religion or spirituality or something else?
        • May 15 2013: I'm religious. I'm a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or as many people call us, a Mormon.

          I'm still a little shaky on what you mean by the word "vulnerability" though. Are you talking about being open to change and adaptation?