23 May Be more vulnerable – Pt 1.
In today’s day and age, particularly in western cultures we have a stinky habit of simply refusing to recognise that a problem exists. Just like we have morphed into this state of thinking busy is cool, we also think it’s an admired attribute to be strong in the form of showing less emotion. Here, our problems manifest into dangerous thought patterns such as poor self worth, negativity, anxiety and depression. These thoughts set up shop in our mind, turn to feelings and soon enough, we identify with them. Instead of facing a problem and giving it the attention that it deserves early on, we opt for unhelpful strategies that mask our true feelings so that we can carry on with our lives. We coo over those who are going through tough things in their personal life, yet still managing to do everything else. We look at these people wide eyed and marvel, “You are amazing.” “How do you do it all?” We fail to ask or acknowledge how they feel underneath the mask they have on. Everyone has something going on and most people wear a mask. We need to help each other remove it and toss it to the side.
There are a number of different kinds of people who walk this earth among us. All of us deal with stressful times differently so it essential (almost like bird watchers!) that we can spot the different breeds! From our perch, we can observe the different qualities, and swoop in to support, or perhaps gently guide someone towards a fate far away from meltdown! First, we can spot ‘the hustler and bustler ’ This person wakes up early and goes to bed late, falling in a heap after a busy day. They fill their timetable to the brim so that their life is overflowing with so many things to do and places to see. They do this because this means that they can bury their vulnerability so deep, that others will have a hard time noticing it . These kinds of people (I am sorry to say) are often imploders. Due to such a heavy workload and so much energy exerted, they are more likely to meltdown in the cheese section of the supermarket after they see that there is no more camembert left on the shelves.
For some, they admit the problem is there, yet are unable to accept that it is theirs to deal with and projected it onto others in the form of blame. Here we can see ‘the blamers.’ These breed of people are so afraid to acknowledge any vulnerability that they let everyone know how much an issue is definatly not their problem. They are often the people who have a big looming issue, whether it be from their past or in the present, and constantly talk about it. They go over and over the details and in some way, often pushing the resonsibility on to other people. We listen and fuel the fire by agreeing how dire their situations are. Through playing victim to their circumstances (whether warranted or not) these kinds of people offload their vulnerability (which may present as anger or frustration) and fail to acknowledge their true feelings (abandonment, sadness, insecurity, shame, guilt or regret).
And the most dangerous species of all, is ‘the trooper.’ We all know of someone (it may be you) who is going through something tough, but puts on a brave face. These people may seem okay on the outside, but give away little cues as to what happens behind closed doors. Perhaps they aren’t sleeping well, or they share with a laugh, how they lost their temper at a loved one the day before. They giggle as they describe a “mini meltdown,” fluffing up the edges of an event to make it a more appropriate and humorous story to tell you over coffee. Maybe you hear a hint of sarcasm in their stories and don’t quite know whether that was a cry for help or their own self-awareness. Beware of these kinds of people, for those are the ones that need you the most – yet may not know it. They may look like the strong ones, yet are the ones masking the most vulnerability. Due to this current bravery trend, people are becoming less comfortable to talk about how hard life is. The glorification that comes with getting through it all is far jucier than tears at the brunch table.
Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. Hiding behind these masks, means hiding how we really feel. We feel naked and exposed when we are vulnerable, so we do our best to avoid it. We have built up a wall so high, that it is hard to then climb over it and escape.
Shining a light on vulnerability and shame creates action and through action we feel more empowered. There are some experts who have braved exploring the topic of vulnerability. One of the most prominent is Dr Brene Brown. In her book ‘Daring Greatly, How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead’ she defines vulnerability as…
“Uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” She says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
What this tells us is that without embracing, accepting or auctioning vulnerability, we never really feel a sense of purpose or deep connection in our lives. This outcome is less than ideal, but it is what we are seeing day in and day out. Think about it…You may be struggling in your personal life and your work is suffering, but do you ever let anyone know? You might have so much going on in your life that you need help, but never want to ask for it because you see others “winning at life” and coping just fine. But are they really? Are we all just wandering around locked in sadness and confusion? There is so much shame associated with opening up and being vulnerable. So instead, people are lost, confused, disconnected and lonely. It is with this knowledge, that we must open up, instead of closing off….
What vulnerability is and what it isn’t
Brené’s reference to vulnerability is the difference between “letting it all hang out” and true vulnerability. Brené talks about vulnerability being “…based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable and open is mutual and an integral part of the trust-building process.” I have seen hopeless vulnerable people in my time! Surely you have spotted them to? These are the kinds of people who are clearly opening up to friends and family and sharing their struggles A LOT! They are often the most frustrating, as they do absolutley nothing about it. I shared in my last post which outlined my philosophy and rebrand, that I believe that we all action our own happiness. It is in my opinion that alongside embracing vulnerability, we must harness some inner magic – our own form of alchemy, to work towards substantial change.
When people open their hearts, they are more likely to get better. In this series of posts I will share a little about my journey with vulnerability and give you tips and strategies for how you can do the same. I have come from a place where I bottled everything up and got very sick because of it. I have evolved so much that I can talk openly about my feelings with those close to me, seek help and take all the necessary actions to heal. This blog in its entirety is my most vulnerable piece of work. Those closest to me have access to it and it gives them so much insight into the inner workings of my mind.
If only we were more vulnerable with one another, how magical that would be….