Some of the most inspirational books I’ve read recently have to do with vulnerability. I LOVE to read books by authors who aren’t afraid to share their vulnerability. If you’re like I am, your favorite books are highlighted and have what looks like chicken scratch in the margins. I don’t loan my favorites books. Do you? I will gladly purchase a book for you, but I won’t loan them.
A few of my favorite authors are Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Melton Doyle – all brilliant writers who are not afraid to be vulnerable. These women roar, and I’d give a lot to sit in a circle and listen to them. What do they know that I don’t and what gives them the courage to be so vulnerable? For sure, it takes some major guts. I’m always needing to work my courage muscles.
So last week you found out that I never got the Sparkly Memo growing up and here’s what happens after you share your stuff. Some people are kind…some not so much, and that’s to be expected, but when you open the box that contains secrets and insecurities…you can’t put the top back on. You have to keep going; but I get stuck sometimes and I’m wondering why it’s so hard to be vulnerable and when is it too much? You know what I mean? I never want to sound like a whiny baby, but I believe we need to give each other permission to share what is real and grow our relationships without all the BS that gets attached to them.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could start off a friendship sharing who we really are rather than spending our time talking about things that are nothing more than small talk? Think how much more quickly we’d recognize “Our People.” Oh, but it’s so hard, isn’t it?
What if I started a new relationship by saying, “Hi I’m Cindy and there are some things you should know about me. My first husband was an alcoholic and was very abusive and when I left him he sued me for custody of our little girl 5 times and he left me penniless and I went from job to job trying to get my life back together, but in that time, I began my journey towards becoming Lionhearted.” Try and take a baby away from her mother and leave her penniless and just watch what happens. That’s me in a nutshell. Scared and tired, but roaring for my baby girl.
Do you think this would freak someone out?
Truth telling and listening and offering up our best selves without judgment is hard – at least it is for me. So what do I do? I keep trying.
I have a new friend (a couple of years now), but she doesn’t seem like a new friend. Somehow we’ve found a way to cut through the small talk and get on with what’s really going on. We have “Board Meetings” and usually over wine, and when I leave her, I feel sparkly inside, because we get each other and we listen and we never, ever judge. And what’s odd is that it’s been that way since we first met.
But how do you know when it’s too much vulnerability? How can you gauge? Here’s what I do.
- I make absolutely sure that sharing my vulnerable moments are not going to hurt anyone else. Just like you, I’ve had some pretty raw painful experiences, and they’ve helped shape who I am today, but I don’t share details publicly because it would hurt the person who I experienced them with. That’s rule number one. Don’t hurt anyone who isn’t prepared for what might follow.
- I ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen here?” Pretty sure the world isn’t coming to an end, if I get over my fear of opening up my heart and sharing my stuff.
- I remind myself that being vulnerable takes me being brave and that’s an open door for fear to walk in. Grappling with the fear and moving forward is key.
- And then you have to know if you can trust the person you decide to share your personal stuff with. Not everyone has earned the right to know you intimately.
- And finally…I ask, “Will my heart be okay if I share this?” Usually the answer is yes, but I have to check in with my heart.
It’s a process and it taken me time to let go of this whole idea that I somehow have to always be perfect. Perfect will get you every time. It’s a lie. It’s fear and it’s a journey. Letting go of perfection is a BIG journey.
So yeah, it’s hard to be vulnerable. It takes guts and a whole lot of being brave, but I’ve opened the box and I’m not putting the top back on because at the end of the day, it feels really good to be okay with being broken and still standing.
How about you? What are your thoughts about why it’s hard to be vulnerable?