Recently I found myself in the emergency room of a local hospital with my first atrial fibrillation episode in the middle of the day. While sitting up on the hospital bed taking care of business issues on my cell phone, I heard the nurse in the next curtained stall speaking loudly to an elderly woman. The patient said that she was 94 years old and lived at an assisted living facility. The nurse asked her about an advance directive (living will), and I heard her fragile voice say as he was leaving her stall, “Do not resuscitate me”.
I stopped what I was doing and felt the full impact of her statement. This vulnerable elderly woman appeared to be facing her ultimate death with such courage that it brought tears to my eyes. From what I could assess, her death was not imminent. However, in that moment I recognized her vulnerability and courage. I believe they can go hand in hand for all of us.
Brene Brown, author and expert on vulnerability, states that vulnerability is not weakness. It is the birthplace of courage and associated with facing uncertainty, taking risks and feeling emotionally exposed.
Any time we find ourselves feeling vulnerable because of life circumstances—death of a loved one, illness or accident, loss of job or relationship, a disappointment, and more—our natural emotional response is fear, sadness, anger or powerlessness. While these emotions are appropriate human reactions, we can also find the courage to move through them and keep going.
We have all met ordinary people who face life challenges with courage as they rebuild their lives after the storm. You may be one of them yourself. Vulnerability leads to courage when a person is able to
- Accept and work with what is happening now
- Tolerate uncertainty because the solution is not visible
- Take a stand in order to defend his/her values
- Is able to ask for what he/she wants
- Take risks and be willing to make mistakes
- Take action in spite of the negative emotions, limiting beliefs and external obstacles
- Believe in himself/herself in spite of life’s difficulties
These strategies offer a roadmap toward self-empowerment in a world that challenges us to overcome adversity and become our best.
Vulnerable with a heart fibrillation issue at this time, I need to move through my emotions, take charge and show up with courage. I am now learning more than I ever wanted to know about conventional and integrated treatment approaches to heart disease. I have discovered Dr. Stephen Sinatra, (drsinatra.com) a prominent cardiologist who promotes holistic wellness, and I am putting together my own team of conventional and integrative doctors to take me beyond this current health crisis.
The quest has begun to understand my symptoms and explore possible treatment solutions that will heal my heart at the physical, emotional and spiritual level of my being. The elderly woman in the emergency room faced death with courage. I courageously choose life and will do my part to get healthy and live fully. We are all vulnerable as we live and as we age, I invite you to use your life challenges to grow in acceptance, courage, wisdom and inner peace.
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