Is Vulnerability a Strength or a Weakness?

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Written by: Amy Collette

Amy loves to work with people who make a positive impact. Amy is a Book Coach, Founder of Unleash Your Inner Author, and the Author of The Gratitude Connection. Amy helps changemakers on their journey to become published authors.

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.

Brené Brown

What do you feel when you hear the word vulnerability?

I’m thinking about this particularly in relation to your book writing, speaking, and marketing. Many of the authors I work with struggle over how much to share in their stories. For some, the word conjures up fears of judgment as weak or over sharing. 

It can feel pretty squirmy to share a glimpse behind the scenes of your life, especially if you have some difficult stories to tell. Some people think they’ve got to share every detail of every traumatic thing that ever happened.

How much do I share?

Always keep in mind that you, as the author, are always in control. You get to share (or not) whatever you decide to. So how do you decide? 

This is how I went about deciding to share a story from my past. I first told it to a very small group of people, and I learned something profound from it. As you read it, can you see why I decided to share it? 

I grew up in a family where my parents wanted to make things look good on the outside and keep any problems behind closed doors. But my father struggled with addiction, and we all dealt with the instability and stress that comes with it. It was considered a huge, shameful secret that I was supposed to keep and never tell. Ever. It would be too embarrassing for anyone to know. But wait! There’s a twist. My father hit rock bottom, and then he did the hard work to get sober. And he stayed sober for the rest of his life. I got to witness real transformation in action from a young age. That changed my life by shifting my perspective from skeptic to optimist. It gave me hope and was the start of my passion for positivity and gratitude.

Despite that, I kept the secret. Finally, I realized it was not my secret, and keeping it that way just fed the shame about addiction. Getting it out in the open made me see that it’s a beautiful story about possibility, inner strength, and redemption.

The 4 decision filters

When you’re thinking about which stories from your background to share, I have some things for you to think about. In my Unleash Your Inner Author course and coaching program, I teach these “decision filters” and more to help you make the process easier and more clear.

  1. What’s your why? What’s your reason for sharing the story? What is the mission of your book? Does it serve your mission to tell the story you’re thinking about? 
  2. Does this story help your reader make a transformation? When I tell my story to a live audience, I see tears sometimes because people relate to my story. Or they feel a deep connection because they have something similar in their history. My goal in sharing that story is not just to talk about the hard parts, but to share what came out of it. Can your stories help someone else see the possibilities for themselves? 
  3. Does the story serve you as an author or a thought leader, a storyteller, a businessperson? Do you want to be known for the stories you tell? Do they help you connect with your readers in a way that makes them want to follow you or potentially work with you in some way? 
  4. How does it feel to you to share a particular story? If it feels a little uncomfortable but it still meets the other criteria, consider sharing it. If it feels absolutely terrible or terrifying to you, you’re not ready to share that story yet. As your coach, I caution you not to share stories until you’re ready for them to meet the public. Maybe you can share a different story that’s not so touchy to you, that is not going to trigger those tender feelings.

So take good care of yourself as you’re thinking about sharing anything vulnerable in a blog, in your book, in a video, or on stage. Remember that your vulnerability and transparency ultimately show the power of transformation. I’d love to hear about how you handle vulnerability and how you decide what to share and why.

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