Voice of Vulnerability

I’ve been in pain the past few days.  The actions of two people close to me reopened old emotional scar tissue. I’m hurting.  So much so that I question the value of moving forward with at least one of these relationships.  That is my truth and, yes, I’m writing it publicly. 

Many people ask me why I’m willing to write so personally.  They are concerned that putting myself “out there” is somehow dangerous for me.  Could be.  Still, I have multiple reasons for doing so.  Here’s why I’m committed to writing this way, as a Voice of Vulnerability for Brilliance-Based Businesswomen.

First, as you may know, I teach that Values are a core component of your Unique Definition of Success.  One of my primary values is to live and tell my truth.  Living my life and providing my services in integrity are absolute musts for me. If I’m not sharing my feelings, I’m unable to function fully. 

Second, one of my Five Wishes (Gay Hendricks) for my life is that “I use everything I experience and learn to heal, in service.”  It is my deep belief that as I grow, I have the opportunity, even a responsibility, to help others do the same.  It’s part of my purpose in this world. 

In contrast to the first two, my third reason is not particular to me.  Brene Brown, researcher and author of The Gifts of Imperfection writes, “Courage originally meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart’… Courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line… Courage has a ripple effect. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.”  When I tell my heart through my writing, I inspire others to tell theirs.  And when we bravely tell our truth to each other, we connect.

Brene defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued…”  She continues, “We are wired for connection. It’s in our biology. From the time we are born, we need connection to thrive emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually.”  On these terms, connection seems necessary for survival.  (Images of Tom Hanks and his soccer ball in Cast Away are coming to mind for me now.)

So by definition, it’s courageous for me to tell you of the deep emotional pain I’m feeling today.  Yet at this point in my life it no longer feels optional.  I write vulnerably to function fully, to inspire healing in others, and to connect. I write for my survival, and possibly even for yours.  

What do you do that others consider dangerous for you?  Comment in the space below so we can connect about it.


  1. RaineyDay

    You are so brave, and so true. I'm just learning the benefits of being vulnerable. It's actually less painful than 'putting up a front' and 'holding it in'. Good for you to write for your survival, and thank you for positively writing and impacting ours.

    • Debra Woog

      Isn't it SO much easier? Especially once you get on a roll. 🙂

  2. Marcia Layton Turner

    The old saying that some people come into our lives for a reason and others for a season comes to mind as I read about your pain, Debra. I'm so sorry for the hurt you are feeling but admire you for being so open about your experiences and your emotions. I hope that as you move on from these relationships you can still look back with gratitude for what you gained. I know I can't always do that, but you seem much stronger than I. 🙂

    • Debra Woog

      Yes, and I'm fortunate to be able to look forward to continuing these relationships too. By the way, I highly doubt I'm stronger..

  3. Jalanda,

    Ahh. It's so hard saying Goodbye to old friends. Maybe goodbye isn't the final answer. Maybe the answer is goodbye for now.

    I liked that you shared this sentiment. I've read over and over again how being vulnerable in your business has helped other businesses grow.

    I'm running a 30 days experiment now on being more engaging. It's going ok so far.
    My recent post Day 4 of Engagement Marketing: My Twitter Makeover

    • Debra Woog

      I appreciate the reminder that “Goodbye for now” is an option too. Thank you, Jalanda.

    • Debra Woog

      Yes! And through vulnerability, the strong will survive!

  4. Roz Walker

    I think I admire people more who are willing to be vulnerable. It reminds us that it's okay to be human. We don't have to be super – moms, wives, friends, etc. We can hurt, feel joy, laugh, cry, or just "be". Thanks for opening the door for us, Debra.
    My recent post Finding the Perfect Marketing Match

  5. Emily DeWan

    It all comes down to what feels right in your heart and in your gut, and I love reading about people who follow that! Any risk you take will attract people who warn you against it. I think these warnings can be helpful to view your situation from a more objective state, and if you're able to overcome them, you become even stronger.
    My recent post Chicago Cafe Brauer Wedding of Kaitlyn and Jeremy

    • Debra Woog

      I like your insight that "any risk you take will attract people who warn you against it." It's true I've had some warnings re: writing with vulnerability. I've certainly considered them. In the end, my faith has trumped my fear.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  6. Debra Woog

    Thanks, Ann. I like your suggestion that the Morning Pages are a stable platform for you. I never thought about them that way before.
    My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  7. annfengshui

    What a brave post! I commend you for not only writing from your heart, but sharing your pain and the ways you are working through it. You are certainly helping people by creating this safe space in your blog. I have occasionally received the dangerous/risky feedback over the years. To work through these moments I writing Morning Pages each day, finding that they give me a stable platform to which I can return no matter how risky or unpleasant things may feel.
    My recent post Use Feng Shui Rituals To Enhance A Wedding Ceremony

  8. Joanne Peterson

    I think it's more "dangerous" to be vulnerable emotionally than it is to be vulnerable physically. My family and friends for awhile thought my skydiving was extremely dangerous. But after explaining all the research, training, and failsafes that go into the sport, they were somewhat more relaxed about it. It's still risky and exciting, but not nearly as much as emotionally exposing myself to the world. However, with big risk comes big reward, right? Great blog!
    My recent post But Where ARE You?

  9. Paula G

    I love that you speak the truth Debra. And I agree, it is not optional. For me two of my values are to be a catalyst and authenticity. That means I use my experiences (the "good" and "bad") as a way to create change in the world and help others. Much like you. As for the "dangerous" piece, one of my favorite quotes that I use in one of my signature talks is attributed to Debra Winger "Authenticity is not for the faint of heart". It is true … it is "dangerous" and courageous to be fully and unapologetically YOU and be fully human. Go figure..yet that is what the world most needs. I've gotten the "dangerous" and "risky" lecture a lot – as it pertains to being an entrepreneur, enjoying kayaking, hiking, adventures, and the much more regular road cycling. And yes…life is "dangerous". Not a single one of us is getting out of it alive. It's living between the "dash" that creates our life…and all we can do is focus on what we can influence and impact (and to a lesser extent "control"). Stef's analogy is perfect – is the bike all tuned up? Am I riding safe and smart? Do I take unnecessary risks? That's what I can do…the rest is in the surrender and flow of living life. I also feel for you in terms of reopened wounds. I had that happen to me about a month or so ago and still recovering, I've given myself the gift of feeling it fully. Not getting angry, mad, or whatever, just feeling what I'm feeling and going from there. Kudos to that!
    My recent post Interview with Danielle LaPorte: Author, The Fire Starter Sessions

    • Debra Woog

      Ooh – I love that Debra Winger quote. I'd never heard it before. Thank you! And I agree – kudos to you for feeling fully. I know firsthand how challenging that can be.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  10. Ginger

    I always know that you are speaking from the heart and your willingness to share your joys and pain with others is what makes you such an amazing woman and a brilliant coach.
    My recent post Is Your Sleepwear a Dream or Nightmare?

    • Debra Woog

      Thank you, Ginger. I've learned through my years in life and my business that I can't really do it any other way.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  11. Elizabeth

    Nothing worse than holding in anger when someone wrongs you. Those negative emotions are not good for your heart ( http://bfflco.com/?p=894 ) or for the future of your friendship. Talk about it and forgive– we're all human and come with our own unique baggage.
    Thanks for the great blog post.
    My recent post Sex and Your Heart

    • Debra Woog

      Elizabeth, thank you for raising the issue of forgiveness in this dialogue. When I said at the beginning of my post that I'm considering ending my relationship(s) it was to indicate how deep my hurt was – NOT that I was absolutely walking away. I have it in me to forgive, as I know we all make mistakes. In fact, as soon as one of the parties acknowledged her responsibility for her part of the situation, my anger at her melted away. Communicating with her was an essential part of the healing process for both of us, and I was grateful for her willingness.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  12. Julia

    I feel so lucky too — lucky to read *and really hear* your words — lucky to call you my friend. — lucky that you have provided me a real life example of what it means to be vulnerable, and live with it. I have no doubt you will make it through this pain as you are dealing with it in a healthy, direct way. As friends, I hope we can cushion you a little too.

    • Debra Woog

      I am lucky to call *you* my friend, Julia! You who takes the time out of your Brilliance-Based life to not only read my words but also feel them with me. Thank you for your cushion. It feels good to know I can fall down on something soft.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  13. brynjohnson

    Here is what I love best about this beautiful post: "Yet at this point in my life it no longer feels optional. I write vulnerably to function fully, to inspire healing in others, and to connect. I write for my survival, and possibly even for yours. "

    We act as if it feels natural until it does. You have been putting vulnerable words into practice for so long now that when you are up against such incredible pain, you choose not to isolate but to show up for all of us in your truth. What a lucky tribe we are!

    I am so proud of you and grateful for your friendship and collaboration. You make us stronger through this writing.
    My recent post Hello world!

    • Debra Woog

      My heart is spilling over with gratitude for you, Bryn. Human being that I am, it means the world to me to be understood and valued.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  14. Stefanie

    Well being an entrepreneur could be considered (by some) to be dangerous and risky. But noone has really come out and said that to me — I think in part that's the company I keep too, positive people who tend to see the possibility first rather than "danger." Although danger is very real. My father has occasionally asked me about the dangers of triathlon — which I never want to talk too much about. All I can do there is make sure my equipment is maintained and I'm present, alert and in the moment. There's no way to avoid risk, danger or hurt completely of course but being true to yourself really helps to handle things — which it seems like you are doing in your situation. Good luck with it. 🙂
    My recent post What Do You Do When a Client Flakes on You?

    • Debra Woog

      Oooh – now that you mention it entrepreneurship is my other extreme sport (after writing with vulnerability). And thanks for your comment especially because it led me back to read your post re: Client Flaking. I never knew you had that experience back in the day and I complete agree with you about the ways to prevent it for the future.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  15. Monica

    Great post Debra! Thats exactly why i love having you as my coach. You are very open and honest about how you feel and what you stand for and that is very inspirational. I am sorry you are having to go through something like this you only deserve complete happiness.

    • Debra Woog

      I am honored that you wrote this about our work together! Thank you. And please know, that after writing this post, I already feel much better.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability

  16. Jared

    Kudos to your strength in expression. I'm moved by your pain and wish you further strength and happiness.

  17. Janet

    I applaud you for being you – for being brave and true to yourself. Your open and honest words will change someone today for the better – one more day in your life, one more person in your network, one more human being honored by being better because of your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. Lead on Debra – you are paving the way for others to live better. All my best to you today and always. Janet

    • Debra Woog

      Thank you, Janet, for understanding my commitment to being true to myself, and especially for joining me in believing that my honesty will change something or someone for the better.
      My recent post Voice of Vulnerability


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