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Vulnerability, Boundaries, And Resilience Melanie Childers, MA, MDiv, BCC, LPC.

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Presentation on theme: "Vulnerability, Boundaries, And Resilience Melanie Childers, MA, MDiv, BCC, LPC."— Presentation transcript:

1 Vulnerability, Boundaries, And Resilience Melanie Childers, MA, MDiv, BCC, LPC

2 Healthy Boundaries

3 Non-Anxiously Absent A n xi o ul y P r e s e n t A n xi o u s l y P r e s e n t Non-Anxiously Present ANXIETY  Separating from tension  Zoning out / numbing out  Depersonalizing  Loss of appropriate connection  Arguing, Criticizing  Panicking  Absorbing others’ problem (“bleeding heart”)  Loss of appropriate distance  Impaired judgment and performance Present in the moment Healthy distance and connection

4 A n xi o ul y P r e s e n t A n xi o usl y P r e s e n t Arguing, Criticizing Panicking Absorbing others’ problems Loss of appropriate distance Impaired judgment and performance Becomes the center of attention

5 Non-Anxiously Absent Loss of appropriate connection Depersonalizing Zoning out / numbing out Separating from tension Emotionless, robotic

6 Non-Anxiously Present Present in the moment Healthy distance and connection Appropriately vulnerable Attentive

7 What is Vulnerability? “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis

8 What is Vulnerability? Vulnerability: uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences. The definition includes “capable of being wounded” and “open to attack or damage” From Brene Brown

9 Examples of Vulnerability Think about personal encounters with shame or vulnerability that you have dealt with during your interpersonal life and professional career. Identify which of the following activities you would consider to be vulnerable: Telling my CEO that we won’t make payroll next month Laying off employees Presenting my ideas to the world and getting no response Standing up for myself and for friends when someone else is critical or gossiping Being accountable Asking for forgiveness Having faith Waiting for the biopsy to come back Saying no Calling a friend whose child just died First date after my divorce Getting fired Trying something new Sharing an unpopular opinion

10 “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why? How would you fill in these blanks? Vulnerability looks like _______________________________________________. Vulnerability feels like _______________________________________________.

11 Vulnerability Myths Vulnerability is weakness. Vulnerability is optional / avoidable. Vulnerability is letting it all hang out. We can go it alone.

12 Vulnerability Shields / Antidotes Foreboding Joy // practicing gratitude Perfectionism // mindfulness and self- compassion Numbing // finding real comforts Viking/Victim Mentality // redefining success “Telling All” // questioning intentions Cynicism, Criticism, Cool & Cruelty // balancing

13 Think about the ways you shield yourself from vulnerability. How would you fill in these blanks? My first instinct is to _______________________________, but that rarely works, so now I ______________________________________, and that’s improved my life. I spent years ___________________________________________ until one day I tried __________________________________, and it made my relationship stronger. An example of a time I have felt vulnerable is: __________________ _________________________________________________________

14 Developing Resilience through Vulnerability Speak from your scars, not from fresh wounds (Nadia Bolz- Webber) Choose wisely who to be vulnerable with; practice with your trusted few Let go of worrying about what others will think Embrace “dark” emotions as teachers and healers Ask for what you want State your internal emotions Share from your heart, not your head Shine light on shame Let yourself be messy Practice compassion toward yourself

15 Power and Vulnerability

16 Types of Power Physical power Legitimate power (designated or legal) Expert-knowledge power (knowledge is power) Professionalism power (influence or aura of power Positional or role power (setting time, place, stage, ask the questions, maintain anonymity, name/label/diagnose, determine parameters of relationship) Imbalance of knowledge power (knowledge of the other is power) Coercive power (forcing against one's will) Reward power (power to reward or withhold) Referent power (the power of admiration) Manipulative power (the power to control in a devious way)

17 Power-Over vs Power-With Goal of therapy: maintaining status quo vs developing stronger, more autonomous, self-empowered clients? Evolution of therapy demands an evolution of the therapy relationship and a shared sense of power How might our own vulnerability model growth and development for our clients? Self-awareness about our own sense of powerlessness (balanced with recognition of our effectiveness) models a realistic picture of life and growth for clients

18 from Brene Brown: “In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what daring greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen” (p. 249).

19 Questions and Comments Resources: The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered, by Richard Rohr The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine, Eric Cassell Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown “Power in Psychotherapy and Counseling,” Ofer Zur, Ph.D. Online publication by the Zur Institute, downloaded May 2015 from

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