Admitting vulnerability can lead to growth

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist, The Times

I’m confident that over the course of the six (plus) years that I have written this column, I’ve discussed my family’s obsession with basketball on numerous occasions. My husband and sons are passionate about the sport. And, the constant exposure has turned me into a fan, as well.

Therefore, particularly in the winter months (honestly, all year ‘round), it’s a topic of conversation in our household. So, when I recently stumbled across an article written by Kevin Love, a Power Forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, talking about his mental health, I was intrigued.

After I read it, I was inspired.

If you have no idea what I am referring to, here is the link:

What I found so endearing was his willingness to be vulnerable. Here is this gigantic man (at 6’10’ tall) candidly disclosing the details of a panic attack he experienced in the middle of a game against the Hawks. He thought he was having a heart attack. Or, going crazy. Or both. The episode was transformative, not only because it was so scary, but also because it became the catalyst for change. It forced Love to recognize a long-standing pattern of denying or minimizing struggles he was facing in life. Due to the perks of being a professional athlete, he had access to the top trainers, physicians, and nutritionists, but had never seen a therapist. He talked about how it felt like weakness to complain about things given how fortunate he was to be a basketball star. But, holding it in was worse.

His bottom line : “Everyone is going through something we can’t see.”

As a therapist, I know this from the work I do with my clients. As a mother, I know this from parenting my children. As a wife, daughter, sister, and friend, I know it because of the discussions I have with loved ones. And personally, I know it because I live with my own daily challenges and insecurities.

Being vulnerable can be uncomfortable and we try (like hell) to avoid that feeling. But, discomfort is where growth happens. Just like for Kevin Love, it can be the key to unlocking the door to deeper connections and an open heart.

What are your thoughts on this topic? As always, feel free to share in the Comment section below.

Happy Weekend

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