Courage starts with showing up and being seen" - Brene Brown
I've been avoiding writing this post for awhile because like the title says, well, it's vulnerable to talk about vulnerability. I have avoided feeling vulnerable for a lot of my life, and since this week in the KC Empower Series with Jen Nobo is about perfectionism, I was hit with the blunt reality that I would not be being real with the audience if I didn't talk about this topic.
Over the last few years, I have been reading more about the research on vulnerability from Brene Brown. This YouTube video was really the first time I had heard someone else express the fear behind vulnerability and showing others who you really are.
I want to get this clear: there is nothing comfortable about being vulnerable. Being vulnerable requires you to leave comfortability at the door, strip down to complete nakedness, walk in through the door and greet everyone as if you were saying, "Here I am!"
It feels like you're exposed.
It feels like you're taking a chunk of who you are, showing someone, and allowing them to judge it or reject it or abandon it.
It's as if you are taking a piece of your heart, your soul, your values, or your hurts, peeking behind a curtain, extending an arm with those pieces in your hand while covering your eyes, and asking, "Do you still like me? Do you still want to be around me? Do you see what I see?" And giving someone the chance to say "No".
And because we are so afraid of that chance--of someone saying "No"--we hide. We retreat inside ourselves like a turtle does for protection. We bury ourselves so deep that sometimes we don't even know if WE accept OURSELVES.
As I'm writing this, that pit in my heart is starting to form. It makes me uncomfortable simply writing about vulnerability, let alone showing it. We all have pieces of ourselves that we are afraid to show other people. We're afraid because we've been teased, ridiculed, shown that it's unacceptable, or been told of what we should be like, act like, look like.
I've done things I'm not proud and have had things happen to me I couldn't control. I've been judgmental, rude, sarcastic. I have scars, both inside and out. These things have prevented me from showing someone, friends even, who I really am. The shame that develops from these events or choices can be even more paralyzing. It makes you want to wear a mask -- pretend to be someone else, pretend to be perfect.
Shame is like an iceberg. On the surface level, you only see about 10% of this enormous block of ice. Underneath lies the rest of it--what's really there--the other 90%. We tend to show people the surface. When looking at an iceberg, you don't see what's underneath. You don't see the 90% and in reference to shame, we don't typically show that 90% either.
What situations do you find vulnerability difficult?
Is it dating?
Talking about issues with your partner?
Admitting you need help?
I wish I could say that we could live happily ever after without being vulnerable. Trust me, I REALLY wish I could say that; however, without vulnerability, without showing someone who you TRULY are, you can also never TRULY be accepted for who you are.
Vulnerability is essential for connection.
Imagine sitting down with someone, sharing the thoughts, the experiences, the memories that haunt you and make you feel like you are unworthy of being loved. Imagine sharing these pieces that you feel like make you broken. Imagine the other person looking in your eyes and saying, "I see you", "I love you", or "You are enough."
Imagine someone else knowing those pieces and walking with you through them. Imagine someone else knowing those pieces and believing that you are still strong, capable, and powerful. Imagine.
Feeling accepted for the cobwebs breeds connection.
You're worthy of connection, love, and belonging just by being a human and who you are.
Suck at being vulnerable? Welcome to the club. Here are some ways to practice:
It's important to know who you can be vulnerable with. Some people may not be safe to be vulnerable with either physically or mentally. Give little pieces of information at a time to see if you can trust them with it -- if they respond in helpful and supportive ways, then maybe you choose to give them a little more the next time.
Until next time!
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt