“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” Brene Brown
The fabulous Brene Brown has become well known for her research in to shame and vulnerability. I literally cried when I read her findings around the power that these emotions have in holding us back from being our true selves and stopping us living 'on purpose'.
One of the great keys to unlocking our true potential and to living authentically, is to dare to be visible, but shame and fear of vulnerability often gets in the way.
I am so often asked how I deal with this. I speak about my own personal story in public, for a living. (If you haven't checked out my story yet, see other blog posts or visit http://batshitcrazy.co). I share my experiences, learnings and opinions openly across social media. I write prolifically about what I've been through and what I've learned and my autobiographical self help book is almost ready. No, if all that isn't laying yourself bare and being vulnerable, I don't know what is!
Do I do all this because I no longer feel shame or vulnerability? No. I do it because I feel shame and vulnerability. Big time. The thing is, I've come to recognise these emotions for what they are and I've learned to use them to my advantage. Let me explain.
I forget who said it, but someone way more qualified to quote these things than me said, "Emotions are energies in motion." Get it? E-Motion. I know I know, you got it first time right? I love this explanation. You see, when we see emotions as energy, we're presented with the possibility that they can change, that we can control them. Just the way we turn the heating up and down or change the channel on the radio, we can change our emotions. Yeah, I hear you..."If only it was that easy." Listen, I'm not saying there's a quick fix, a tablet or a magic wand solution. It takes work. Like keeping in shape and keeping healthy, no matter what the media and so called gurus tell us, there's no quick fix for that either. It it's worth having, it probably takes commitment, consistency and dedication. And what is more worth having than a life full of joy, adventure, love, happiness and fulfilment? The life you were meant to live?
So what do I do when I feel fear, shame and vulnerability creep in?
I recognise that it's a neurological reaction to me feeling threatened. I thank my emotions for wanting to protect me, but reassure them that "I've got this."
I work to understand the difference between shame and guilt. Guilt can be productive. Shame is utterly crippling. Guilt is about how we behave. Shame is about how we feel.
I focus, to the exclusion of every other emotion, on the one I've chosen just for that moment, situation or circumstance e.g. confidence, self assuredness compassion.
I remember times in the past when those emotions have shown up for me, I remind myself that they were short lived and remember how I dealt with them. If I let them stop me or shrink me, I re frame that. If I conquered them, I harness that and use it.
I remind myself of all the wonderful things that feeling vulnerable can bring - being loved, creating bonds, being understood, being authentic.
I love myself for feeling and remember that those feelings come from something that was very real but, isn't any more. And, I remind myself that these feelings indicate an ability to empathise and that's definitely worth celebrating.
Is it frightening to feel vulnerable? Yes, sometimes. Is being vulnerable a weakness? No, absolutely definitely never ever! In fact, quite the opposite. Showing our vulnerability takes enormous strength, bravery and sheer balls. I can wholeheartedly say though, that embracing my vulnerability and dumping my fear of being visible has been one of the greatest discoveries and achievements of my life. It has opened my eyes, my heart and opens doors to endless wonderful opportunities. And, I can be me...just me. I can't tell you how freeing that is.
What incredible gifts are you hiding. And, what are you hiding from?
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