Posts Tagged ‘vulnerability’

if you are reading this, i want you to know that you are enough…right now…just as you are.   who you are, who you really are inside, is good.  we, as humans, can “do” “bad” things…we can certainly make “bad” choices at times…but that is just our behavior…that is not who we are.  i am not saying that everything anyone does is “ok”…or that there should be no consequences for actions…i believe in consequences…i believe in staying away from people who choose to behave in ways contrary to what i believe in or in ways that would hurt me.  none of that has to do with our innate worth as human beings.  you are worthy and good just because you exist.  i really believe that to be true.  imagine how you would feel if you believed it too?

someone else who believes that is dr. brene brown.  i wanted to pass on this video of one of her talks.  i think it is brilliant and important.  i hope you take the time to watch the whole thing, but in case you don’t, i have paraphrased some of what she said so you can read it.

dr. brown is a researcher, professor and author.  she began researching connection because “connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives…neurologically…that’s how we’re wired…it’s why we’re here…”

in her research she started to see that there were two groups of people…one who had a strong sense of belonging and those who struggle for it…”there was only one variable that separated people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and those who don’t….the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging…that’s it…they believe they’re worthy…the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection…”

she found that people who have a deep sense of worthiness have these things in common:

-a sense of courage…to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…they had the courage to be imperfect…

-they had compassion to be kind to themselves first, and then to others…

-they had connection…as a result of authenticity…they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they were…you have to do that for connection…

-they fully embraced vulnerability…they believed that what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful…they didn’t talk about it being comfortable or excruciating…just necessary…the willingness to say i love you first…the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees…the willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.  they thought this was fundamental.

she learned we numb vulnerability…and the problem is you cannot selectively numb emotion…you can’t say…here’s the bad stuff…here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment…i don’t want to feel these…you can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other emotions…you cannot selectively numb…so when we numb those, we numb joy, gratitude, happiness…and then we are miserable and looking for purpose and meaning and it becomes this dangerous cycle…

another thing we do is try to make everything that is uncertain, certain…religion, politics…there is no discourse or discussion anymore…just blame…

and we perfect, most dangerously, our children…our job isn’t to keep them perfect…our job is to look at them and say “you’re imperfect and you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging…”

“but there’s another way…and this is what i’ve found…

to let ourselves be seen…deeply seen..vulnerably seen…to love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee…to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror when we are wondering can i love you this much? can i believe in this as passionately?  can i be this fierce about this?  just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen to say…i’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means that i am alive…and the last, which is probalby the most important is…

to believe that we are enough…”

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i have been thinking a lot lately about expectations…and connections.  i believe with all my heart that we are meant to make and have connections with others…that it is part of why we are here.  these connections can be so beautiful…so uplifting and supportive.  and they can be so painful.  so if we are “supposed” to have connections with others in our life, why do those connections sometimes bring so much pain?

is it our expectations of those connections that cause the pain?  i know they can.  people will always disappoint us.  i don’t see this as a bad thing necessarily, just a fact.  we are all individuals with our own personalities, our own wants, our own sets of issues…we all see life and others through the filter of our past experiences.  we can adjust and clear the filters…but we can never get rid of them completely.  in a way, they make us who we are…the experiences of our life.  so here we are, a bunch of different individuals on this planet, all with our own issues, all seeing things in our own particular way, all needing connection.  in a way that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

i think it can be.  i think if we expect others to be for us what we haven’t learned to be for ourselves, we are in for a world of hurt.  if we expect others to affirm and love us in ways that we cannot…we for sure will end up disappointed and hurt…and will probably end up doubting ourselves, doubting our self worth.  but this is just one side of the pendulum.  often after we experience that side, and feel that horrible pain, we decide we don’t want that anymore and swing to the other side of the pendulum.  i think this is human nature.  we want to survive. when we get hurt that badly, sometimes we come to the conclusion that we need to hide…be closed off…so we are never hurt like that again.

so we try out the other extreme…never letting anyone in, never reaching out, never being vulnerable.  while this might feel “safe”, i don’t think it is any way to live…to live our life in fear of rejection, not letting anyone see who you are, never sharing the beauty of our lives with anyone else…isolating.  what a shame it is when someone stays there…trapped in their pain and confusion.

so what are we do to with all of this?  the paradox of needing connections, yet being able to be so hurt by them?   i think, like most things, the answer lies in the middle.  i don’t think the answer is to never have expectations of anyone and i don’t think the answer is to expect others to provide something for us that they can’t, like our sense of self worth.  somewhere in the middle there, i believe, we can find peace…and connection.

i think to even be able to briefly stay in that middle place, that place of peace and connection, first we must look at ourselves.  we must look at our pain, look at our beliefs about ourselves and the world.  we must learn to love and value ourselves enough that when we do trust someone who then really hurts us, we see it for what it is, and not a confirmation that we are unworthy of connection.  we are all worthy of love and connection because we exist.  i really believe that.  so when someone hurts us, it is never because we aren’t worthy.  people disappoint us for all sorts of reasons.  we might need to examine our behavior in the situation, not our worth, but our behavior.  we might have some responsibility in it.  maybe we need to adjust our expectations.  maybe we are expecting others to be something for us that we need to be for ourselves.  maybe the other person is so hurt and scared themselves, that they can’t give us what we think we need at that moment in time, or ever.  maybe the other person has changed, or we have and it just isn’t a good fit anymore.  maybe that person will always be there for you in a bigger sense, but at this point in their life isn’t as available.  it is our responsibility to figure out who is safe for us to connect with.  and it is our responsibility to protect ourselves, not by hiding, but by remembering we are worthy, no matter what and taking steps to not let people close to us who have shown us they are not safe to share with right now, or ever.

it feels kind of like a dance to me…being in the middle…swaying to life’s music, never getting too stuck in one place.  how wonderful it is to dance with someone…to feel the same thing.  but we don’t need any one person to dance…we can dance alone, we can dance with others.  the music is life…it’s always there.  partners come and go…one might step on your toes…one might dance so beautifully, you start to think they know how to dance and you don’t…someone might like the way you dance, then change their mind, or put you down out of their insecurities, making you doubt yourself…and sometimes, we find others who dance with us in a way that supports us, compliments who we are…someone who seems to fit with us perfectly.    when that happens we sometimes think we will dance with them forever…and sometimes we end up doing just that…which is beautiful, but not the most important thing…the most important thing is that, no matter what,  we keep dancing.

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i remember about twenty years ago being in a bookstore looking at cards.  i came across a card that had the poem “risk” by anais nin on the front.  it read:

“and then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

i remember the moment i read that…being blown away.  her words really spoke to me…it was just what i needed to hear at that point in my life.  what a  validating idea…that there is risk either way.

blossoming takes courage, self love, self acceptance.  you have to be willing to open up…you have to be willing to be vulnerable.  everyone will “see” who i really am…what if they hurt me?  what if they reject me?  what if i’m not good enough?  i think, earlier in life, i had it backwards.  i felt i would come to a place in which i would know i am good enough, know that no one can really hurt me…that no one can touch who i really am, that some might reject me, but i won’t and there will always be some who don’t.  i felt i would know all these things first…then blossom.  that way i would feel safe to blossom…there would be no risk.  what i was realizing back then, after doing a lot of “work” on myself already, was there would be no time when i felt all those things until i blossomed…and that would involve risk.  there would be no safety net that i could see.  i would just have to free fall into myself…and trust i could fly.

or i could choose to remain “tight in a bud”, which might seem comfortable and familiar, but i don’t think it’s a sustainable way to live your life…i think it eventually becomes too painful.  choosing to remain “closed up” can lead to a life full of pain and confusion…never seeing ourselves or the world clearly, never showing ourselves,  or the world, the beauty of who we really are. what a shame it is to never let the world, and people who love you, see who you are inside…see your light.  what a shame it is when someone never sees the value of who  they really are.  unfortunately i think many of us think our value comes from what we “do”…what we can “do” for others.  but the truth is, we are here to be who we are…who we really are…and do what we love…what we really love.  and by being brave enough to embrace our truth and live our lives authentically…we inadvertently “give” others the courage to do the same.

i have heard some people talk about taking the steps to grow, or live authentically, because they had to…it was that or literally die.  that in a way, it wasn’t a choice, but a necessity if they were to keep living.   i feel i can relate to that idea…in my own way.  i feel like, in a way, i never made a choice.  this is who i am.  i have this drive to grow, to keep searching, keep looking for the truth.  i am very grateful that is who i am.  it hasn’t been the easiest road, but so very necessary for me.  what choice did i have?  i refuse to die or live in shadows.  i refuse to not try.  i refuse to believe that life and people are anything but good.  it is really what i believe.  and i also know, that while both choices involve risk and pain, the choice of not growing, in the end, would be much more painful for me then the risk and pain of choosing to grow or blossom.   growth can be painful…but i know i would have never had room for all the joy, peace, beauty and love that i see in life had i not made room for them.  if i would have never looked at the hard painful stuff, so i could feel it and let it go, i would have missed out on the beauty that is this life…and it is so beautiful.

of course i am not done.  there will be more things to look at…more pain, more blossoms, more growth…but i see now that my life is so much more fluid.  i almost never loose sight of the bigger picture anymore….the pain comes, i don’t own it, i look at it, feel it…and then it goes…all pretty quickly…in contrast to how i used to feel…i felt i lived in the pain…now i feel like i live in the joy, and experience pain.  and what could be more wonderful then that?  

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i have been thinking about writing a blog for some time now.  oddly enough, i find myself a bit apprehensive.  i am a very honest person, very upfront.  i find myself at this point in my life questioning, well, pretty much everything.   should i be so honest?  should i be so upfront?  i have been hurt by sharing who i am with others, but i have also made connections…helped people…helped myself.   so this is where i am starting from, where i often start from, full of questions.

i have done a lot of “work” on myself…to learn, to heal, to grow, to understand, to explore, to find peace.  i used to think that after years of “work”, i would one day have a huge epiphany and be at peace…reach full self actualization.  i would be “done”.  then a few years back i realized i was having little epiphanies…that i had been having them all along and that there probably wouldn’t be a “big” epiphany.  i can see the shifts my little epiphanies have had on my perceptions, and for that i am very grateful.   so that’s what i think it’s all about…little epiphanies.  it’s these small shifts or small changes in perception that have made all the difference… i’m nowhere near where i started from…or where i’ll end.

i want to dedicate my first post to my friend diana.    getting to know her and reading her blog have inspired me to finally start my blog.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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