Thinking back on the last few years, one of the commitments that made the biggest difference for me is to learn to better understand and express myself as I really am. When I was struggling with my oldest daughter, I was good at putting on a happy face and downplaying the despair I was experiencing thinking that others didn’t want to hear about it. While people don’t want to hear complaining all the time, I found it is also dangerous to swing the other way and not share any of it- people don’t know where you are coming from and it is very hard for them to trust you.
When I finally got things in better balance- four years later- I was finally able to step back and reflect on where I was. I wasn’t happy on a lot of different levels, but the things that stood out the most to me are 1. I had created this world that was making me miserable (not anybody else!) and 2. I was not being at all true to myself and had a huge fear of vulnerability because it felt like I was ‘dragging others down.’
This fear of vulnerability can take different faces. For me, I was fully willing to stand out and be quirky, but I had a much harder time allowing circumstances to not be perfect. I had so much fear of how my kids would act (they really were a handful), not inviting people over because the house wasn’t ‘clean enough’, and apologizing for things that shouldn’t need apologies (ie. myself and my perceived shortcomings). This also reared its head in compliments- ‘Wow I love your haircut’ ‘Really? Ugh, it is so gross. I need a haircut so bad!’. It was so hard to just say ‘thank you’ and grateful for the kind words.
So I made a few promises to myself, just to see how I could evolve into stronger happiness and connection:
- Just say ‘thank you!’
- Put myself out there more often and be the initiator in friendships and relationships
- Stop apologizing- I can still mention my house is dirty, but don’t spend the time together cleaning or apologizing for not cleaning
- Stop expecting perfection in all areas of my life and be ‘ok’ with things getting messy
- Be grateful for the wonderfulness in my life
- Tell people I love them more often
- Hug more
While I think vulnerability is something we can pretty much all work at during all points of our lives to some degree, I am a much happier person (and much more kind to myself) after practicing these daily.
Last fall I was introduced to Brenee Brown (Ugh I love this woman!) and her amazing Ted Talks. This one is about vulnerability and how it is at the center of joy, creativity, love, etc. Here is just a summary of the nuggets she shared:
People who have a sense of worthiness (and therefore connection) have:
- the courage to be imperfect
- the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others (we can’t process empathy without first being kind to ourselves)
- they have 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)
- they fully embraced vulnerability
Check out the full Ted Talk below- it is worth every second!
What are your thoughts? Do you find that greater vulnerability brings greater rewards in connection and being true to yourself? Is there anything that stops you short of true authenticity? Please share your ideas and insights below…