Jumping into Vulnerability

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I regard myself as an independant woman. I look after myself physically, mentally and financially. (I wont go into the state of my finances!). Yet…I love the idea of being looked after. I love the thought of being held and protected by a man and I’m not sure how honest I’m about this? I wonder, as I reach the latter half of my 30’s without having trodden the conventional marriage, children route as of yet, how I may appear to others as a woman and prospective ‘partner’. Strong?..Brave?..Exciting?..Controlling?..or just plain Terrifying!

I like to portray myself as being totally together. I have my own business, I travel regularly, I’m prepared to and am excited by the idea of evolving as a woman and human being. Others may look at what I ‘present’ and believe Im there…I’m sorted…I know exactly how to navigate my life. But heres the thing…sometimes, I just don’t know what to do. I can’t hold myself up and keeping up the pretence of being ‘sorted’ is exhausting! I rarely raise my hand and ask for help and if I do I feel shame around it. Am I the only person who feels this way? I’ll take a wild guess at no.

Why is it we feel we cannot be seen as exactly who we are? That is being totally honest and vulnerable?

My belief is that we feel like…if people see us for who we are…exactly who we are…they will judge us and even reject us. So we build walls. Big ones!

If I was to write ‘Sophies Bio’ as I would like to be seen…I would probably only mention the amazing, inspiring parts of my life. In fact I wrote one recently…and honestly, I wish I was me! I only showed my best bits though..my ‘show reel’. Yes life is great, I am passionate about living fully, my work, inspiring others. But there was definately no mention of feeling lost at times, feeling so lonely it is painful, seeking validitation from others. I’m not saying we should confess this on our job applications and CV’s..however…what about in our daily life? What is the cost of editing ourselves this way? Showing only the presentable, neat parts of ourselves.

I believe by doing this we loose connection…not only with authentic selves but with the people around us. In my experience my most enriching conversations/connections with friends are the ones where one or both of us fess up. Admit we are scared, nervous, feeling unworthy. We can support each other in these times. We can learn about ourselves. We can maybe even help others.

Brene Brown carried out a study on ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. Her Ted talk went viral in 2010. If you have yet to see her talk I encourage you to do so. She challenges our belief that sharing vulnerability equals weakness. In fact daring to bare can feel truly liberating and powerful.

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So…how do we begin to explore and get friendly with this aspect of ourselves? Well first we have to notice we have these feelings at all. Hopefully if you are reading this blog you have already discovered this. When we notice these feelings come up what are our coping stratagies? How do we numb the pain? Drinking, eating, social media, retail therapy, sex.

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.” – Eckhart Tolle

Can we..instead of rejecting the feeling or covering it up…sit with it…make friends with it. Even if its just a minute longer before we pick up our I Phone or get on Facebook?. I love how Louis C K talks about this subject.

Tibetan Nun, Author and Teacher Pema Chodron teaches Thong Lin Meditation where we breath in suffering either our own or others and breath out relief. We can use our own pain or the pain of others as a subject. So instead of fighting the feeling were actually breathing it in.

If any of this rings true to you (or not!). Id love to hear from you. Have you started to show up ‘as you are’ in your life? Please share your experiences/thoughts/questions. As I said this is something I’m working on and I definatley don’t have all the answers. But I do know that by becoming friends with all aspects of ourselves, loving all that we are (our dark and light) and showing up genuinely in the world we live. We stand a much better chance of connecting with others and sharing this crazy life journey…which is all that counts in my book!

 

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20 thoughts on “Jumping into Vulnerability

  1. Beautifully put Sophie. We all know the thrill of a connection made, a soul bared, even if just for a moment. We all know the lightness of a supporting friendship, the dance of a new love being tentatively and powerfully born. Yet we can still shy away. Are we afraid we will be overwhelmed if we feel too fully?
    Our avoidance may not need to be as obvious as drink or sex, it can be in the more subtle masking smile and glib reply too.

  2. I love your writing & I’m so looking forward to having a long chilled open chat over coffee tea lunch or just a stroll! X

  3. Love this post Sophie … So much food for thought here. I know I don’t feel comfortable admitting to my own vulnerability at times and yet being able to show our ‘dark’ or ‘weak’ side is actually a sign if strength. Looking forward to discussing more when I see you xxx

  4. I am 26 and I am not afraid to say that yes, what I would like to have from life is a family,children, a man to grow older together, to be complete and evolve in many different way.
    We are not enough fo ourself and there’s no reason to pretend we are.
    Thank you for sharing this

  5. This rings very true to me. I also regard myself as independent, but even though I am quite happy by myself, of course I also love the idea of being ‘held and protected by a man’, to use your words. As a working single mother of 2, one with a disability, life doesn’t seem to get any easier. I pretend that I have it all together, but we all need others. I often have the feeling that I’m the only one needing though, and so I carry on with my strong front, only asking for help if I really have no other possibility (which is rarely). I’m sure I’m not the only one, but everyone seems so good at not being vulnerable. And there is a price to pay, particularly if we numb the pain in the wrong way. It only brings more pain, but it is a vicious cycle that is really hard to break. A ridiculous example would be me not going to yoga classes. Yes, it is hard to find the time because I’m dependent on childcare, but the real reason why I never show up is that I’m fat and out of shape so I feel ridiculous in a room full of fitter people, which only makes things worse overtime. Why do we try so hard to hide our vulnerability and even not face it within ourselves? Defense mechanism I suppose, but I’m sure it does a lot more harm than good X

    • I hear you Jo…and yes we are getting better and better at wearing masks. They don’t serve us though. Thankyou so much for sharing….if we could only do it more it may help others to feel they are not alone Xxxxx

  6. I guess when we arrive at a “nothing left to lose” place, then revealing one’s vulnerability comes from a place of strength rather than weakness. ❤ Thank u xx

  7. I always loved the lyrics of John Mayer’s Why Georgia..”So what, so I’ve got a smile on
    But it’s hiding the quiet superstitions in my head
    Don’t believe me, don’t believe me when I say I’ve got it down.” It so rings true, but I’m getting better at sharing more of the snapshots, not just the photoshopped version of life. Most definitely a work in progress for me!

  8. I love that little “show me yours” cartoon … can be interpreted in a few curious ways in light of what you write. (like, why aren’t we showing each other our sadness, too?) …. you’re not alone, Sophie. Not by a longshot!

    • Thanks Bryan….I feel like we show each other the palatable parts. I know I do…and fear of loosing something we have no rights over would be my guess as to why we don’t bare more of ourselves. I know I want to be seen as a brave strong woman, and not as a frightened girl, or a crazy head case!. And Im all of those. It definatly hurts to hold it in…a work in progress 🙂

  9. It’s difficult to reply to this article without making oneself entirely vulnerable! I am a persistent, self-made, self-sufficient, willful, independent, and extremely sensitive woman of 31 years. In the past year or so, I have been struggling tenaciously over my enduring belief systems about my quality of independence, which has shaped me and served me very well. I find it tremendously difficult to integrate my strong sense of self and the meaningful relationship I want to find (and arguable have found) myself in. Even as I sit here, after one year in the most fulfilling relationship of my life, I swing drastically back and forth between wanting to partner with this man — the most intelligent, compassionate, generous, and attractive man I’ve known — and being afraid, wanting to run for the hills, to avoid the trap of a ‘committed’ relationship. Perhaps non-ironically, he has the same conflict, although certainly in his own way and bringing his own experiences to it. I’m trying hard to be patient, to set my willfulness aside, let things unfold, let the solution reveal itself…this is anything but easy. What I’m finding is that the sense of adventure, which I cultivated independently throughout my twenties, is now married (ha!) to the idea of sharing all of this with another person. This isn’t what he saw in me when we fell in love a year ago. How could he? — I didn’t even know it about myself. It is painful to reveal it now and to face the fact that he may not want the same thing. But I can do nothing else. I already jumped in.

    • Hi Dora, Thankyou for putting yourself out there! I feel it comes down to this…uncertainty is bloody scary. Yes we are strong, independant, self made women. That is part of us…AND dare I say the part of ourselves we love to put out there and show the world. However…we are also fragile, vulnerable, needy girls (perhaps I speak only for myself?). We are all of it. Relationship is uncertain…and scary and un grounding. How wonderful, enjoy your journey into the unknown! You might like my next blog 😉 X

  10. Hi Sophie
    I’ve been pondering the same issues myself in my quest to understand, find and help others find their courage. I recently pondered that the less we have to protect, the more invincible we become. By giving up our protection we find our strength.
    With love, jane

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