Whenever I hear the words resilience, vulnerability and empowerment, they bring to mind some thought-provoking questions. Does vulnerability+ resilience = empowerment? Is this the most powerful combination of words in the English dictionary? Is it possible to talk about one word without mentioning the others?
I often discuss how the key to understanding how our emotions, thoughts and energy is in our experiences, particularly the tricky ones. This is resilience in action, helping us learn and discover who we truly are. By adding in two more significant words, vulnerability and empowerment, we can take that one step further.
The relationship between vulnerability, resilience and empowerment
Let us talk about vulnerability first, as it starts the whole process of learning who we are. Vulnerability begins with a feeling of uncertainty or lack of confidence about an aspect of yourself. When you share these moments or feelings with others, you are opening yourself to the feeling of vulnerability. This helps us strengthen our relationship with ourselves by taking us out of our comfort zone and giving us the tools to get to know ourselves better.
Resilience arises from vulnerability as a form of personal growth in response to a challenge. When we connect with our emotions and ourselves, we can begin to learn things from life’s difficulties. This leads you to understand who you are and what direction your life is going, helping you feel empowered to take on the world around you.
Vulnerability, resilience and empowerment in action
Let me illustrate these points through the story of a thirteen-year-old girl and her experience with these three unique and amazing words.
The vulnerability of an unhappy teenager
This young woman uncovered what it meant to be vulnerable when she dared to share her deepest feelings about being a teenager. The changes she was experiencing were wholly new, from the transformation of her physical body to her newfound, unfamiliar emotions. Her thoughts were becoming louder and louder until she felt that she was drowning in her own self. As her inner voice became more robust and untamed, she thought she might be suffering from mental health challenges and didn’t know where to turn.
This was when she became vulnerable. She attempted to have conversations with her friends, her parents, and her teachers, but nothing seemed to go well or yield the results she was desperate for. For the first time in her life, she felt totally lost inside herself. She couldn’t find the words to express herself, which was something she had never struggled with previously. Giving up was the only option she saw since she couldn’t find anyone who understood her, despite putting herself in a place of vulnerability and attempting to share what she was experiencing.
There was a major behaviour disturbance as a result. She stopped eating, became skinner and skinner, and slept all day. Her grades were decreasing quickly and her energy was excessively low. Not only that, she became a rude, defiant teenager which was completely unlike any way she had acted before.
Her parents and teachers started to have conversations about how to deal with her challenging behaviour and the difficulties she was experiencing. The young woman kept hearing it was just her being a ‘typical teenager’, and people kept dismissing the symptoms. Everything was starting to snowball and snowball, with no resolution in sight.
Finally, her parents had had enough of watching their once happy child become sad and lonely with no drive or enjoyment in life. They knew who she was at her core, and they wanted to bring her back. After conducting some research into supporting happy teens, they discovered The Resilience Tutor and quickly made contact.
Turning vulnerability into resilience and empowerment
It was the parent’s turn to be vulnerable. They booked a call and shared their teenage daughter’s story, then informed her why they thought our program was a good option. The family then shared their vulnerabilities with each other, which they now acknowledge as one of the best decisions they ever made.
Together, the young woman’s family attended the six-week resilience program and learnt more about themselves, their emotions, their thoughts, and their energy. They discovered how these things linked to every one of their experiences, both individually and as a family. They finally understood each other and what it meant for their daughter to transition from childhood to being a teenager with ease and grace.
The previously unhappy teenager discovered what resilience meant, and was given the tools to navigate tricky life challenges. The understanding she gained of her emotions, thoughts, energy and the fact that she could learn from every experience, gave her the strength to tackle life head on. She even found a mentor who taught her public speaking skills that helped her to express herself in a whole new way.
The result was an empowered young woman who now lives a remarkable life. Her goals at the start of the program included playing volleyball, chess and being on the debating team – all of which she now does! Today, her resilience and confidence are at a level that she previously didn’t know was possible.
Is it time to start better understanding your teenager or child with The Resilience Tutor
With our courses and programs, we can help your family better understand each other and yourselves through vulnerability, resilience, and empowerment. Whether you want to know how to deal with challenging behaviour, equip your loved ones with better behaviour management, or set your child up for success with valuable life skills, we can help you make that happen.
My name is LK Tommi – I’m an educator working in the education and psychology field, and the author of a resilience-based book and journal series supporting children and teenagers to better understand their emotions, thinking, energy, and behaviour, and how it all connects with their everyday life experiences.
The people that know me well will tell you how much I love to chat. Please connect with me at Facebook and Instagram: The Resilience Tutor