Being Human is Uncomfortable: Unpacking Vulnerability and the Power of Coaching
After watching the new Barbie film (2023), which offers interesting perspectives on many things, my favourite quote was, "Being human is uncomfortable".
Being human is an incredibly rich, nuanced, and indeed sometimes uncomfortable experience. When coaching, I see the human condition show up as a mosaic of joys and sorrows, strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and vulnerabilities.
As humans, we all encounter discomfort on multiple fronts – physical, emotional, intellectual, and social. These discomforts arise from a spectrum of human vulnerabilities, which, although inherent in our nature, can often leave us feeling isolated, anxious, and overwhelmed. However, it is in addressing these vulnerabilities that we uncover our potential for growth and resilience. One powerful way to do this is through coaching.
Understanding Human Vulnerability
The essence of being human is bound to the fact that we are vulnerable beings. We are susceptible to physical illness and injury, cognitive biases, emotional upheavals, and societal pressures. Let’s delve a little deeper into some of these vulnerabilities.
Our bodies are remarkable biological machines capable of incredible feats. Yet, they are not invincible. We experience illness, fatigue, ageing, and physical pain, all of which constantly remind us of our mortality and vulnerability.
Emotional and Intellectual Vulnerability
Humans are intellectual and emotional beings. Our minds continually learn, think, and adapt, which can lead to intellectual growth but doubts, mistakes, and biases. Similarly, our capacity to feel a wide range of emotions, while a gift, also makes us susceptible to emotional pain, including sadness, anger, anxiety, and despair.
We are inherently social creatures, thriving on connection, acceptance, and belonging. But this very need also exposes us to the risk of rejection, loneliness, prejudice, and other forms of social pain. The pressure to conform, the fear of being judged or misunderstood, and the struggle to maintain meaningful relationships can create profound discomfort and distress.
The Power of Coaching
While viewing these vulnerabilities as mere sources of discomfort and pain is easy, they can also be catalysts for growth if we learn to address and navigate them effectively. Herein lies the power of coaching.
A central tenet of coaching is fostering self-awareness, the first step to addressing vulnerabilities. Coaches guide individuals to explore and understand their strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and values. This heightened self-awareness allows individuals to recognise their vulnerabilities without judgment and provides a platform for addressing them constructively.
Coaching helps individuals embrace their vulnerabilities rather than fight them. Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it acknowledges reality, paving the way for change. By accepting their vulnerabilities, individuals can begin to understand their triggers, learn to manage their reactions and work towards healthier coping mechanisms.
Through coaching, individuals can transform their vulnerabilities into resilience. Coaches provide tools and strategies to deal with stress, confront fears, and bounce back from setbacks. Resilience is not about avoiding discomfort but about learning to navigate it effectively.
Coaching helps individuals recognise that vulnerabilities are a shared human experience, thereby fostering empathy and connection with others. Understanding that no one is immune to suffering can reduce feelings of isolation and encourage open, authentic communication.
Coaching reframes vulnerabilities as opportunities for personal and professional growth. Challenges and discomfort can inspire change, foster creativity, and catalyse development. Coaches guide individuals to leverage their vulnerabilities as launching pads for self-improvement.
Being human is indeed uncomfortable. Our vulnerabilities make us susceptible to physical, emotional, intellectual, and social discomfort. However, when addressed and navigated effectively, these very vulnerabilities hold the key to our growth, resilience, and, ultimately, our humanity. Through coaching, we can learn to embrace the discomfort, leveraging our vulnerabilities to become more self-aware, resilient, connected, and growth-oriented individuals. After all, the beauty of being human lies not in our perfection but in our ability to transform our vulnerabilities into strengths.