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Confident Vulnerability. Friday February 12, 2016

Confident and Vulnerability are two words rarely seen together – almost an oxymoron for many.
How many of us, especially males, have been schooled to be strong, confident and of course, right!

This brittle approach is the downfall of many teams and organisations and of course relationships.
How many debates or even arguments have you had when you wanted to protect your ‘opinion’ or position?
The world is rarely ‘black or white’, or ‘right or wrong’… any wisdom (EQ), rather than cleverness (IQ) is about how we create synergy, where 1+1 = 5 or 10 or 50 where we simply find solutions that are better than either of us could ‘see’ together – what is sometimes called the ‘third way’…
Recently I came across some great research from Gallup which clearly showed, that the key for any healthy ‘organism’ (person, family, team, organisation) was the mix of confidence and vulnerability.
If you dislike the word vulnerability, check out Brene Brown’s work and her wonderful TED Talk – it was singularly the one word that separated those who thrived, in creating strong, effective and sustained relationships (Interdependence) and those who repeatedly failed!
Gallup’s research demonstrates that these two words used jointly, are THE key indicator of a healthy person (organism).
Here is a way to view this:

confidence vulnerability matrix
Looking at the diagram it illustrates that to be healthy and able to ‘accept’ a third way (Interdependence), we need both Confidence AND Vulnerability.
This is especially important in mental health where I happily talk openly about my ‘weakness’ and thus make it safe for others to show theirs – we can confidently share vulnerability!
I believe this sharing is what makes ‘we’ strong, rather than ‘me’ weak’ if I conceal.
Now, people may attempt to take advantage of that ‘weakness’ and you then know they are not for you!
As I have always said, ‘show weakness to gain strength’.
The world – OUR world – if it is to be healthy and sustainable, needs people who are going to be open and authentic.
Try it today, show a bit more of yourself to someone - be confidently vulnerable - and ‘feel’ what happens… then share this with our Moodscope community.
Lean into that discomfort, where all learning takes place.

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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LillyPet Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 5:06am

Morning Les,
I haven't seen this before and had to look up codependence to be able to figure it out!
I think, that codependence is an imbalanced dependent relationship where one person is dysfunctionally helping the other making them reliant on the support? Much food for thought here! Thank you LP

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 2:51pm

Hi LP - aye that co-dependence - spot on - (I serve you so you will serve me) is dangerous ground and the root of so many abusive relationships. Interdependence (I serve us so we can serve others) is the key. At its root - I WANT to be with someone - I don't NEED to be with them - its a choice, not an addiction.

LillyPet Sat, Feb 13th 2016 @ 12:22am

Hmmm lots to think about there! Maybe its a case of not one or the other entirely , so some elements of need, but primarily want. Thanks Les!

Anne Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 5:30am

Hi Les
Just woke and read this....and smiled. It spoke to the very essence of what I feel and believe, it also is what I struggle with.

How can I be confident and vulnerable when my professional life expects me to be strong/tough/resilient? The danger of the latter is I feel alone/false and lose my confidence - feeling a fraud.

I am going to share this, talk about it and remember that when I am vulnerable that I am respecting all of me and that supports my confidence.

Thank you ????

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 2:58pm

Hi Anne - I had the same issues at work, which is partly what tripped me into depression to start with. Even the Doctor would write sickness notes that would 'cover' my real illness! So many of us have to play a role at work and that's when we start to lose ourselves..... Can anyone live two lives - one at home and one at work? The more the two are apart the more the stress. I love David Whyte's quote - - - - - "In work we have to find high ground from the arriving tsunami of expectation concerning what I am going to do. Work, like marriage, is a place you can lose yourself more easily than perhaps finding yourself. It is a place full of powerful undercurrents, a place to find ourselves, but also, a place to drown, losing all sense of our own voice, our own contribution and conversation." Keep looking for 'yourself' and if you can - explore Confident Vulnerability with colleagues - they may thank you for it and in doing so - trust you more.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 4:44pm

What an amazing quote. Is it in a book by David Whyte? Julx

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 5:53pm

Hi Jul - yes its called 'The Three Marriages'......fabulous. 1) Marriage to partner / 2) marriage to work & the last and MOST important and MOST ignored, 3) the marriage to ourselves. - - - - - - "In the midst of a seemingly endless life, however, we can spend so much time attempting to put bread on the table or holding a relationship together that we often neglect the necessary internal skills which help us pursue, come to know, and then sustain a marriage with the person we find on the inside." David Whyte

Anonymous Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:48pm

I am going to look online or the book now. Les many thanks x

Anonymous Sat, Feb 13th 2016 @ 9:57am

Bought it.

Soulmansblue Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:33am

Hi Les,

I was a little lost and confused until I read 'show weakness to gain strength' then it all fell neatly into place.

I have actually been doing this for years. I never used to and it all began when I became deeply depressed and when I finally started to open up I felt the best way was to open up and not hide the fact that I suffered from 'Manic Depression.'

My original intention was not to do what you have brought to the table but I at the time initially felt if everybody knew then whatever was said couldn't hurt me because I'd already told everyone.

The reaction I got though was more positive as the reaction was just as you described. More people opened up and felt safe to do so and the things around balanced out.

Since then I have always been totally open about everything and it has brought about better relationships and a few jaws have dropped open when I have brought things up, people have been taken completely by surprise.

It removes peoples feelings of vulnerability and helps open up better communication. Strangely I was told that being open could come back and bite me and not to be. Well so far I have no bite marks!


Mary Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 10:16am

Hi there SMB. Yes - me too. I've found that, generally, people are so much more compassionate and understanding than I expect and, even more importantly, they start to share their own experiences with family and friends. I love this openness.

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 3:02pm

Hi SMB - Fab stuff....!! It initially takes courage to do what you have done in a world where most are not themselves. You will have helped many to be more 'real'...what greater gift could you have? - - - - - - "No real conversation can occur without some vulnerability." David Whyte

Nick Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 7:11am

Les, thank you for putting into words, what I'v been feeling. It's nice to know that I'm not alone. I love our Moodscope community. xxx

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 3:04pm

Hi Nick - Yup.....there is no greater depth than 'kindred spirits'. We should never feel alone and Caroline at Moodscope enables such great communications.....

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:12pm

That's nice, thanks Les :-)

Norman Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 9:16am


many thanks for that. Real food for thought. I find that in my job there is a perception from some of my Board that "real" managers strut around barking out orders which are carried out instantly by terrified staff. This is not how it happens in private business, never mind a co-op.

The reality is I consult, seek advice, listen, and then decide. I praise, mock (gently), persuade and inform. (At least that's what I believe!)

I shall think on't.

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 3:06pm

Hi Norman - Sounds good to me.....and I'm sure appreciated by all around you. How can you convert those Board members....?

Mary Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 10:20am

What a wise old (young) bird you are Les! This is brilliant - and what I've been doing ever since I started to write for Moodscope! It's always a good link in. When people say "What do you do?" I tell them about all the things and then say I also write for Moodscope and share about it within the context of suffering clinical depression/bi-polar myself. By being confident and pragmatic about this vulnerability it does become transformed into strength.

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 3:07pm

Hi Mary - Fab......thanks for that....aye more old than young these days I'm afraid! Keep enabling others to be more confidently vulnerable......

Skyblue Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 2:05pm

As usual, your timing is impeccable, Les. Felt like very personal advice this morning, given that I'd grappled all last evening with how to handle a situation needing action today, albeit a 'small' matter in the relative scheme of things. My god daughter wants to stay the night on Tuesday, but I leave on an international flight early Thursday morning and am, in my inimitable way, already stressed about what needs to be done beforehand. Not only that, but she is frequently ill, being a high-flying teenager, and I am going off to visit three old dears with a combined age of 263. I cannot risk bringing them a bug of any kind. I feel so badly, wanting to accommodate her, thrilled that she wants to stay, afraid of messing up her plans, and disappointed at the thought of not seeing her. But having read your words, I decided to be completely confident but openly and vulnerably honest about what my limitations are and explained it all to my friend and mother to god daughter who will pass along the information in a wise way. I think I might have eventually gotten to this decision without your blog, but what you gave me was the confidence to communicate in a clear, loving and not defensive way. I 'leaned into the discomfort'. Thank you, as always. s xx

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 3:09pm

Hi Skyblue - What a FAB story - real - in the moment....fantastic. I couldn't have put it better myself. I'm sure that will help others put it into perspective - thanks you. Keep leaning..............

Anonymous Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 2:35pm

Yes Les I agree. Confidence and genuinely heartfelt vulnerability are the best combination to connect with others.
However vulnerability can be fake, put on to command attention but it's so see through to most people. I've witnessed the fake vulnerability. The words come out at rapid speed in a sentence full of me me me.
People who never admit to vulnerability are probably the most vulnerable of all. I think by putting yourself out there like you do Les, it shows courage and a self confidence which can only be obtained by showing vulnerability. I have never minded showing my vulnerability even though in work situations, it has had the opposite effect. My self confidence was ripped apart by others, who drew strength from what they ignorantly saw as weakness. But I look back and see that I was being true to myself and eventually I have reached the stage where my vulnerability is seen as an adjunct to my self confidence. They now go hand in hand in perfect symmetry. Jul x

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 3:30pm

Hi Jul - Yes we can normally 'feel' fake stuff.....the challenge is to somehow gently do something about it - rather than just let it carry on - because by doing so, we perpetuate the 'myth'. - - - - I believe you are right about the most vulnerable are those who show no vulnerability at all........all protected inside but often ready to 'explode'. Bullies are often the most insecure.......Keep being yourself..

The Gardener Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 2:55pm

Heck, challenges, challenges. Mr TG showed his mettle from first sound of the alarm clock, and has been foul ever since. Met French burocracy at its worse, now trying to suss out Les's weekly puzzle (sorry Les, just my poor old brain hurts). I am vulnerable to thoughtless criticism - or wisdom from a distance - 3rd son saying I must 'engage' more with Mr TG - 1st son and wife during visit - you can't engage with someone who is totally dependent. If I feel like blowing my top I rush up the side roads and hide in the cemetery - nobody to shout at me. 3rd son's 21st birthday was dramatic - boat delayed from France, bringing new girl friend, he did not arrive till 11 p.m. Drug-addict d-in-law completely drunk, my ma disapproving of everything. It WAS a good party - at 4 a.m we got to birthday cake - I turned to 2nd son and asked him to 'do the honours' because I could not cope. His face! He said, nearly a wail 'I've never seen you when you can't cope'. The only confidence I can draw on is that I've been here before, and except for the rude burocrat this morning everybody is lovely.

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:22pm

Hi TG - I'm sure you must 'puzzle' most readers with your daily antics! - - - - - - - - - - "There is only one journey ... and that is going inside yourself." Rainer Maria Rilke

Hitchhiker Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 3:35pm

Wow Les! I picked the perfect day to get back to moodscope. I think the notion of codependence was given such a bad name back in the 80s with pop-psych books, I dismissed it and never delved in to it. But in seeing your graph and puzzling it out, LO! I see more than a few of my relationships drifting in to the codependent realm, but I was blind to it. So thanks! I think relationships with teenager/ young adults living at home (perhaps even older parents or partners who need caregiving) are often more co-dependent than we want to admit. Neither the giver nor taker able to be vulnerable. Lots of food for thought here!! And reading through all the blogs I missed last few weeks, see lots of connections - particularly with the notion of fostering resilience in our kids by allowing them to take their own knocks. Tricky part is supporting them and ourselves in vulnerability so confidence will increase. Guess that is where self-compassion and kindness come in! Anyway, I am happy to be reminded why moodscope is so wonderful! Thanks again!

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:06pm

Hi Hitchhiker - Aye there was a lot of 'stuff' in the 70-80s - I think it becomes clearer when we link it to the other 3 '-pendences'. Such relationships I believe make it clearer. - - - - - I also feel that relationships at home are stuck in Parent / Child mode (transactional analysis) and often do not move into Adult / Adult sphere where two interdependent people feel free to acknowledge each others wisdom and values. It is most challenging for parents to let go of control and the power of Parent and move into 'growing and developing' the Adult in their offspring. This was a real issue I had with my ex wife who wanted and needed the control and my behaviour which asked the young person what they thought and felt - as I sought to let them think for themselves and grow smoothly into adulthood. Both parents need to align to have consistency or trouble swiftly emerges. - - - - - - - - - "When you do something for me, which I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my weakness."

Skyblue Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:27pm

"When you do something for contribute to my weakness." Les, whose great quote is that? Is it one of your own? Thanks again. susan xx

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 7:20pm

Hi Susan - Its from a poem I have used for years in group sessions....called Listen - - - - - - I hope all these words don't get jumbled up........ ////////////////////////////////////// LISTEN ////// When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice you have not done what I asked. /////// When I ask you to listen to me And you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, You are trampling on my feelings. /////// When I ask you to listen to me And you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, You have failed me strange as that may seem. /////// Listen! All I ask is that you listen. Not talk or do – just hear me. Advice is cheap: 40p gets you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper. And I can do for myself; I’m not helpless; Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. ////////// When you do something for me, which I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my weakness. /////////// But, when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, No matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince And can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling. And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice. Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what’s behind them. ////////// Perhaps that’s why prayer works sometimes, for some people Because God is mute, and he doesn’t give advice or Try to fix things. “They” just listen and let you Work it out for yourself. ////////// So, please listen and just hear me. And, if you want to talk, Wait a minute for your turn, and I’ll listen to you. ///////////// Anonymous

Skyblue Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 9:55pm

Just wonderful, Les. Thanks so much for taking the time .... xx

Hitchhiker Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 10:18pm

Yes, greatly appreciated Les!! Letting go of control and two biggest issues here at home with three teenagers!! Many thanks!

Di Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 5:07pm

Dearest Les ~
"Show weakness to gain strength" hits me hard in the brain/heart journey. I am recovering from the single worst year's depression of my entire life. Yet I am free. Thank you, my friend.

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:13pm

Really sorry to hear you've been having a hard time Di, we've missed you. Caroline

Les Fri, Feb 12th 2016 @ 6:14pm

Hi Di - Lovely to hear from you. Aye that brain / heart journey - tough stuff, especially if you have been mostly in your head due to the society we live in. Wouldn't it be great if it was the heart / brain journey and we started from our hearts - which it does of course as a baby as we don't 'do' speech! If you are in your heart - you will be you will be you. I won't go on again about the IQ / EQ challenge...................."A wise man does not use knowledge (IQ) to select his direction, but will on occasions use it to guide him on that personal path (EQ)."

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