Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Love and Closeness Challenge #23: Vulnerability

This is an article that I'm especially excited to write. Vulnerability is absolutely necessary if you would like to have a connection with others.  
THE expert on vulnerability, Brené Brown says:"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them -- we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare."
The part of that first sentence that says "we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known", really gets to the heart of the matter. Our vulnerability is our power, it is our greatest strength. 
We simply can't have intimacy if we aren't willing to share the truth of who we are with another. This truth includes the whole picture, the good, the bad and the ugly. The truth is not exclusive.
I believe that dreams contain deep wisdom that comes directly from the all knowing observer part of ourselves. I often write questions down on a piece of paper and put the paper under my pillow and quickly say before I put my head down: "Thank you for truth I can understand and integrate into my life," or something similar. Sometimes these questions are about problems I want to solve, but this question was simply about how I can improve. I feel very close to the people in my life, but I believe no matter where you are there is always an upward direction that you can move in. So, I asked the question: "How can I be closer to the people I love?" I laid down and fell asleep pretty quickly and had a very vivid, clear dream. I was being turned inside out. A force entered my mouth and worked it's way to my feet and pulled them up through my mouth and turned me completely inside out, like a sock. The process was a little uncomfortable, but not really painful. In the dream I stood up strongly in the middle of the room that I was in and a voice in me said, "I must show everyone". 
What that meant to me was that I need to expose myself. I need to let what is on my inside be clearly seen and experienced by myself and those around me. I need to allow them to see me.
This is about more than just honesty. There is a deeper truth and a truer sense of what is real about you then just being honest with others. You can be honest for the rest of your life and not share who you truly are with anyone at all. Honesty is a part of this authentic sharing, but it is not the whole of it. 
I love when Brené says that vulnerable people are courageous. She says this is different from being brave: “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.” 
― Brené Brown

Do you speak your truth with all your heart? There is no shame or blame in truth. There is not weakness in your heart, there is only courage. 
Vulnerable acts are acts that take courage. You put yourself out there, the true you without the masks or the pretenses. You don't try to hide your pain, your fear, your failures, your emotions or anything else about yourself. You expose yourself and this is terrifying. However, it is the key to intimacy. You simply cannot have intimacy if you are invulnerable. I would say that when you are truly completely vulnerable, you are centered and strong because you know that you are worthy of love no matter how imperfect you are. You rely on your strong core (root word of courageous) which is your faith in your inherent value. It takes more strength to share the true story of you than to hide it.

Vulnerability is exposing your true self, your true story, your true feelings without an expectation of the way that the other person should respond. If they are open and accepting, great, but if not that is no reflection on you, it is a reflection of their own fear. Don't let another's reaction, or your fear of their reaction stop you from turning yourself inside out. Just as important, reserve your judgment and allow others to be completely vulnerable with you. This is scary, but I promise you that you won't die. You will start the process of deep connection. 
Think of something that you are scared to share. It could be anything, what is it that you are afraid to tell anyone? Practice being inside out and go tell someone. Take a leap of faith. This isn't about trust, this is about knowing that who you are is no less valuable or worthy than anyone else. No matter what you have done or what you are thinking or feeling you are worthy of love. Speak your deepest truth, even if the story you tell is filled with mistakes or regrets. Share your authentic self, all the dark parts of you that feel shameful make up who you are. 
True friends are true friends because you were willing to share with them your deepest secrets. They know about the time you lied to your boss and that you haven't shaved in over a month and that's the real reason you wear jeans in the summer. They know you - all of you, and they still love you. This didn't just happen for no reason, it happened because you were willing to turn yourself inside out.  

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