Many of us spend years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability. We try to make things black and white, ignoring shades of gray, and qualify things as good and bad in an effort to create a feeling of certainty. But there is immense power in leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability. Showing it is, in fact, one of the bravest things we can do.

Vulnerability gives us the courage to say, “I need help,” “I own that mistake,” or “I’m not willing to define success simply by my title any longer.” And in that embracing of imperfection, we make room for growth and to engage fully in life. In her TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” (which has been viewed over 30 million times), noted researcher and author Brene Brown, Ph.D., talks about vulnerability as the “core of all emotions and feelings.” She emphasizes that when we try to numb ourselves to the shame and fear of vulnerability, we also inadvertently build walls around joy, love, and belonging.

It takes courage to open yourself up to both joy and pain. Here are three ways to lean into vulnerability and live bravely:

1. Let yourself be seen—flaws and all.

According to Brown, it’s the fear that we’re not “good enough” to be seen that keeps us from opening up to others and opportunity. We tend to keep our failures a secret, fearing that they will cost us love or acceptance, but this ironically deprives others of the chance to truly know and appreciate us. Your weaknesses and strengths are often two sides of the same coin, and they create the whole picture of who you are. When you shine a light on your flaws, they lose their holding power.

Here’s how: When you hit up against a weakness, reframe it as a work in progress or an opportunity for growth, rather than a deficiency. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and grant yourself forgiveness. Create an affirmation to stay motivated in the face of setbacks or adversity, such as, “Challenges help me grow,” or “I won’t waste my potential by doubting it.”

2. Start with self-compassion.
Bravery requires having the confidence to take risks. Knowing that you’re worthy of love—your own and others—is the foundation of this confidence, which is cultivated by practicing self-compassion and awarding yourself the same warmth, care, and understanding as you do others.

Here’s how: Carve out time each day to direct your attention inwards and attend to your own needs. In what ways can you show yourself that you’re on your own team? It can be as simple as prepping your lunch the night before so that you get more time to sleep in the morning or taking a moment to stand up and stretch in the middle of a long workday.

3. Lean into discomfort.
Because vulnerability is about embracing both the “good” and the “bad,” it involves fighting the urge to flee discomfort. When this happens, it’s key to remain present and open to what the moment has to offer. Think of it this way: If your friend is telling you that they’re going through a hard time and you spend more time thinking about the “right” thing to say than you do listening, you’re going to miss important information. You have to give your full attention to your friend’s discomfort before trying to be supportive or helpful. The same is true for your own discomfort.

Here’s how: Whenever you feel yourself willing difficult emotions away rather than allowing them in, bring yourself back to the moment by taking deep breaths and noticing the sensations around you. Staying mindful can help ground you so that you can view discomfort in a more neutral light. When you can accept feelings of fear, weakness, and worthiness together, you can begin to feel grateful for all of the opportunities that these feelings have given you.

Isabelle Fillenworth was the 2017 meQuilibrium Content and Marketing Summer Intern. She is currently a student of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina.