20 February 2012

Vulnerability

Have you guys seen the Ted Talk by Brene Brown?  Oh my, it is awesome.

I loved it so much, I had to share it here.

Brene has researched why there are those that have a deep sense of belonging & a strong sense of feeling worthy to connect with others, and why there are those that don't.   As you can imagine, I LOVE THIS TOPIC :) 

Brene calls the people who believed they were worthy, the "wholehearted".  She found that they had something in common........

They all had COURAGE to tell their story with their "whole hearts".  They had the courage to be imperfect & to be vulnerable with others!  They fully embraced VULNERABILITY and believed that it made them more beautiful.  As a result of this authenticity, they were able to CONNECT more fully with other people.  She says you cannot connect with others unless you let go of who you think you should be & embrace who you actually are!

I love this.  I believe it to be true (I see that Cup of Jo is discussing authenticity, too!)


I've seen a strong connection between vulnerability and worthiness firsthand in my own life.  I remember the days when I did not know my own worth.  You can bet that I was not about to expose myself for the world to see.  I already disapproved of who I was (mostly because at the time my husband disapproved of me as well & I had not yet learned how to separate myself from that), and frankly the thought of being vulnerable and risking being disapproved of by even one more person was too much to bear.  At the time, my good friend put together an awesome website showing before & after pics from renovations.  He wanted to highlight my newly renovated Brooklyn apartment.  After all his hard work + a few weeks of having the photos of my home online, I requested to have them taken down.  There may have been a negative comment from one of his readers about "all those white walls & cabinets" - I can't remember, exactly, but what I do distinctly remember feeling was that I couldn't take one more OUNCE of disapproval.  The criticism I was already experiencing consumed my every breath.  My life was all about guarding & protecting myself from even the tiniest additional smidget of disapproval...I literally couldn't take one drop more.  This meant protecting myself from friends.  It meant sitting in church in silence, not offering a WORD of participation or commenting during a class.  It meant looking at others and feeling like they were living.  I was just hiding - - connected very little to no one.

But, as you may know from a former post.......I finally figured out my worth.  This was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me.  And with that, came COURAGE & VULNERABILITY...almost automatically!  I distinctly remember being at church on the last Sunday before my husband left the country and never returned.  I was with the group of amazing women in Brooklyn.  There was an opportunity for people to stand and share their thoughts - their stories - their truth.   I stood.  I bawled.  I shared.  No one knew that my husband had a ticket to leave.  But it didn't matter.  They knew my truth that day.  It was the first time I'd ever voiced it publicly.  And those that heard it say they will never forget it.  To this day I feel greatly connected to all those women who heard my courage that day...and to everyone who has heard it since, including my dear Danny.  [You may have noticed that our love letters were a complete offering of vulnerability to each other! :) - we gave everything that we had to give & celebrated it, whether or not it was to be received.]  There is power in being vulnerable.  There is power in sharing our truth, even when we feel imperfect.  I like to call it LOVE.  :)

I know this now.  And that is why I freely open my heart and soul to you all.   Love is the most powerful force in our lives.  It's what we all want to have more of.  It's what we want to be able to offer others.  And I know that to have love & connection, we have to be willing to be vulnerable...we have to be willing to be who we are and to offer that to others.

Thank you for letting me share my truth with you daily on this blog.

Thank you for sharing your truth with me.

I'm thankful for this life where we can do this.....where we can learn over time to become more vulnerable both as we are seeking truth and also as we are sharing our truth with others.  It doesn't matter what stage we're in......it connects us just the same.

Love to all,

Mara 

P.S.  I am now not sensitive about what someone might say about my minimalist white walls!  haha.  Sheesh.  Seems so silly now.

P.P.S.  In your own life, have you noticed a correlation between vulnerability/authenticity & feeling a deep connection with others?  All comments welcome!

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And how about we all commit to having COURAGE this week.  Let's tell our story with our whole hearts; let's have the courage to be imperfect; let's believe that vulnerability is what connects us to others! :)

32 comments:

  1. Mara,
    Great post. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have felt this way, and stil do sometimes. My insecurities have stopped me from pursuing goals and dreams for fear of rejection. It is still a challenge, however I am grateful for the confidence I have gained through my great husband who believes in me. Honestly I know I should rely on my own confidence and all, but what a difference it makes when some one else believes in you. And to be truthful his trust in me has given me more confidence and ambition than I have ever had. I guess this shows how co dependent I am. These days I am attempting to squash out this fear and reach for my
    goals. Even when people criticize my writings and dont find me as interesting as my hubby does.I know I have quite the hike still. Thank you for sharing me and helping me to realize that anything is possible.

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  2. Love this Mara. Your timing is perfect too as I was feeling vulnerable after posting on my own blog today. Kudos to you woman!

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    1. G from TX - I know the feeling! Isn't having a blog such a practice in authenticity & vulnerability? Someone told me she feels half naked every time she publishes a post. I know the feeling. I felt that more in the beginning, but luckily feel more comfortable now.

      I think some people blog because it's just an extension of the vulnerability that they already practice in person....OR, they blog because they aren't brave enough to be vulnerable in person, so they test the waters on-line (which still takes so much courage). My guess is that being vulnerable on-line is a huge step for people developing more vulnerability in person....Don't you think so?

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  3. This is such beautiful truth. I have recently embraced vulnerability and deepened many relationships because of it. I went through a similar "enlightening" process you have described (am still going through it) and have realized that if I want to be truly happy and truly connect to people, I must be willing to be vulnerable. I can't hide behind my mask any longer, it didn't work out too well for me.
    I am currently reading a book by Brene Brown about shame that is wonderful. Shame seems to be the root of so many problems, the reason most of us don't want to make ourselves vulnerable. I definitely recommend the book "I thought it was just me, but it isn't" if you are struggling with shame and need to find the courage to deal with it in healthy ways. Thank you Mara for your thoughts. Today I will have more courage!

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    1. I want to read that book!! Thx for mentioning it....

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  4. i know that feeling of not being able to take one more drop of criticism, of not knowing how to celebrate my worth and separate it from others' thoughts/opinions/judgements of it. our worth is tested (and growing!) every day, i think. it's an ongoing process- building our sense of self worth, constantly reaffirming it.

    thanks for this post.

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  5. I just love this blog :) My husband and I were talking about some of the topics you've covered here last night and I love to see how this blog has helped me grow. It really has! I feel really lucky to have stumbled upon it. I can see a difference in the way I think about myself and the people in my life. I feel like it's giving me ideas and information that are so helpful and needed for me right now. What a nice thing to be able to share your wisdom and love for life with anyone! Sometimes.. I just can't get enough of how the internet can assist changing the world for the better :)

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    1. Lizzi - - - you are the best!! This was such a sweet comment to receive....it means the world to hear this. And kudos for you for what's happening in your own life....! That's awesome!

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  6. This post reminded me of this message: http://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/01/living-the-abundant-life?lang=eng

    Thanks for sharing!

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  7. I am dealing with this thing exactly right now, I don't like being vulnerable because I have had so many in my life take advantage of it when I have been, I have recently gone through a hard time in my life and have shut myself off from the world so to speak and have pushed many people away in trying to deal with my own pain, I am ready though to stop living like this and to be more vulnerable but I feel so scared to actually do it, there are these two women that I really want to become friends with but it's gonna take vulnerability to invite them over when I have never really had more than one conversation with them, I need advice on how to approach this because I don't want to seem too forward in my invitation, I'm usually the type that waits for people to come to me but in this situation I feel that I need to do the reaching out something that is incredibly hard for me... so any thoughts or advice would be helpful, vulnerability makes me feel so weak sometimes...somehow I need to overcome this.

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    1. Hey Anon -

      The first thing that comes to my mind goes back to two posts Mara and I have done, What Are You Without and How To Stop Comparing...

      The first link addresses a little of what you've already noticed...by shutting yourself off from the world, the world can't help but shut you off. I'm glad you feel a desire to increase your "vulnerability" and openness to all around in spite of those past experiences.

      The second link is Mara's recent post on comparing yourself, which one could argue is what you're doing right now with respect to these two women. Try not to compare, and focus on Mara's first tip...Think of Others and Not Yourself. How would this look? Well, if I was in a similar situation as you described, here is what I'd do. 1) I would compliment them sincerely. Whatever it is that you admire about them, share one or do things you've noticed and let them know you really respect that about them. 2) Make sure you're complimenting them for the sake of building someone up and adding a positive aspect to their day (and just plain being vulnerable), and not just to win them over to your end goal of being friends. If it's for the latter, it's not a compliment, it's manipulation. That complimenting increases the likelihood of being friends is just fine, but you have to want to compliment them regardless of the outcome, simply because it's the best way to live your life. 3) After complimenting, maybe now it's time to state your goal "I would love to get together with you two", or take you out to lunch, or whatever it is you want "to hear more about" whatever it is that you admired about them. 4) You have to really mean this part, "And don't worry if you don't have time, I wouldn't dream of being offended". You gracefully allow them to back out if for whatever reason, and continue to speak positively about them even if they turn you down. You have to be okay with that going in...it frees you up from the pressure of needing a certain response, and it frees them up from the pressure of giving a certain response, and it allows everybody to make whatever decision they think is best at that time.

      Anyway, that's not the only way to do it, that's just one way I often do it in my personal and professional life. Hope it helps.

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  8. I love this post! It is so utterly freeing to finally move from that space of being constantly guarded to then not being affected by criticism. Continually learning in this regard, thanks for the reminder:).

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  9. Loved this. Thanks for sharing! I actually feel stronger when I open up to people. Without fail they have had a similar experience or have insight to share. I think sharing things with each other allows us to have deeper connections. Still, there are things I don't open up about. Maybe some day I will.

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  10. My husband told me for 9 years I can never have a spiritual conversation with you, and for a long time I believed him. It wasn't until he decided to leave me that I realized that I really do have a testimony and I do have worth while comments to make that I started participating in church and allowing my own testimony to shine. Funny enough the man who told me he was better than me for years and years now has nothing to do with the church or the covenants he made in the Temple and my testimony is stronger than ever. I don't regret those 9 years at all because even though I was not verbally sharing, I was still listening and learning on my own and now I have even more knowledge to share.

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    1. Paige! This comment made my heart so big for you. I can relate so much to what you wrote. I agree that all those years of 'not sharing' and just listening to others still helped me out...the collective strength of others over my lifetime continues to be a strength to me now...

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  11. I love the idea behind this. It really hits home for me. I have shut myself off from friends and family because I just can't stand the disapproval, judgement and criticism. I am happy that opening yourself up and being vulnerable has made a difference for you. I so want that but I am still afraid. What I find missing from this post, are the steps you took in between. I am afraid of being vulnerable because my friends have taken advantage of me and my kindness and have thrown my weaknesses back at me whenever it suited their purposes. In my mind, friends should not use your vulnerabilities against you. Do I get rid of those friendships? Can I change the dynamic? Help. Thank you!

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    1. Hello Anon - Thanks for the invitation to be a little more clear and maybe come up with a couple of steps. Mara and I will think about that. For now...it sounds like the Brene has a book that others have enjoyed that might help you understand more.

      Regarding you statement about your friends and family. One word of potential caution. I've learned through personal experience that sometimes it's not that someone is actually judging or criticizing me, but that I perceive it that way. Perception is a powerful thing and has the potential to warp reality. That's why there are some people that are able to turn a sincere compliment that you gave them into the idea that you are criticizing them. It's not that you didn't give a compliment or share an honest opinion, it's that they can't hear it without taking it personally or perceiving it as an attack. So, first, you're going to have to be aware enough to distinguish your perception from another's intentions.

      Now - assuming they truly are judging, disapproving, criticizing and taking advantage. I would agree with you that vulnerability is much more difficult in that scenario, and isn't always worth it (at least until you are able to ignore completely that negativity and not be affected by it). I generally tend to distance myself from those who are consistently negative to me and to others, or anybody else for that matter. Sometimes you can't change the dynamic (but as we always say here, you can change how you respond...which is part of my answer in the paragraph above).

      Hope that helps :). I'm with you, friends should not use vulnerabilities against you.

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  12. Bravo Brene Brown. And thanks Mara for linking. Would you believe my journal entry this morning was about this very subject? Getting comfortable with vulnerability, leaning into it, learning to love it, and realizing that not having all the answers, not being able to control every bit of life is ok. That I will be ok. As Brene puts it, that I am worthy of love. Vulnerability has never been my strong suit, but this year I'm hoping to make it so. Stumbling upon this little post in my backed up reader let me know that the universe is helping me along. Thanks again for posting.

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  13. Yes I agree, what are the steps in between? As the above Anon wrote I too have shut off friends because I don't want the drama and all the other things she mentioned in her post, and have done this exact same thing because they have taken advantage whenever I became too vulnerable. Please write a post on this and how we can take steps into becoming more vulnerable...

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    1. Thanks for adding to the request, we'll think about it more and see what we can add.

      I guess one thing I'm curious about...what does vulnerability mean to you? It might help us know what to address in steps if I know better how you feel vulnerability hasn't helped you in the past or how you've been too vulnerable. Maybe we're talking about different things? There are some definitions of vulnerable that I can imagine there could be too much of.

      Anyway, no need to spill all your beans, it's just I always think better when I know what it is I'm trying to address. Thanks!

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  14. This reminds me of what I learned about true strength.

    Due to my childhood and growing up I had a pretty tough outer shell. I was emotionally tough and hard to crack open. No one was going to get the best of me! So I had walls up. And I thought that was being strong.

    Then I remember this guy I knew who got his heartbroken. Not to long after that (like maybe a couple months) I ran into him and he was happily in a new relationship. Engaged even! I remember thinking he was crazy to just jump right back in with both feet and what if this didn't turn out, etc???

    Then it hit me. He knew that if this didn't work out, it wouldn't be the end of the world. He knew that if he got hurt again he could handle it and he would move on. That's when I realized being open and vulnerable was a sign of true strength. Being "tough" was a sign of weakness...because rejection would ruin me and I wasn't sure I would recover. A definite ah-ha moment....

    I still have to work at being vulnerable, but I at least I know the difference. :)

    Great post as always.

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  15. Wow, great subject. I totally connect with this. I have a group of friends, we've known each other for between 8-20 years. We get together once a month to share, lift one another, laugh, cry, and offer love and sympathy for life's ups and downs. I know that our connection is strong because we are vulnerable in front of one another. We share, we console, we love. It's what good friends do. Open yourself up to someone! It's spectacular the comfort that comes when we can share without worrying what someone else might think. You know they love you, and they are there for you, and you can be there for them. It's about love, unconditional love for yourself and for those around you.

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  16. Brene is an AWESOME speaker. She lives in my neighborhood and I have seen her speak live. She is truly one of the best speakers I have ever seen. Just love her research and the way she presents it. I see her almost everyday at Kindergarten drop off but have been too afraid to approach her and tell her how much I admire her.

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    1. 3 Peanuts - I say practice your vulnerability by approaching her! haha. You could just tell her thank you and that you're a fan. It's always nice to deliberately seize those opportunities that come along in order to develop a skill! :) [I do this sometimes, too!]

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  17. Brene is hugely inspiring...she spoke at ALT in 2011 (wish you were there Mara) and I remember madly taking notes the entire hour (need to look those up...).

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    1. Stephanie - Wow - I didn't realize that she spoke at Alt! Wish I had been there. Would have loved to hear her speak.

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  18. thank you. Just, thank you. :)

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  19. Mara, I've learned a lot from your posts. I'm very intrigued on a certain note you made in this post:

    "I already disapproved of who I was (mostly because at the time my husband disapproved of me as well & I had not yet learned how to separate myself from that)"

    How do you separate yourself emotionally from his disapproval without walking out or being snarky? I'd appreciate your insight or a post on that issue specifically...

    In hope,
    Anon.

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  20. This is Anon. again... To anyone searching for this answer, I found another post from Mara that somewhat addresses this. I'd love to hear more in another post or reply, of course, but wanted to share this piece in case anyone else is in need...

    Most Important Things I've Ever Learned (About Love)- #3

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  21. just stumbled onto your blog. this type of writing reminds me of the content that filled my blog a few years ago. for some reason i haven't felt as compelled to write about these heart-filled topics, but it is refreshing to see so much heart out there by someone else, too. i honestly thought about renaming my blog: a blog about love. i am dead serious. i think i even titled a few posts that.

    a book you NEED to read: what happy people know by dr. dan baker. not kidding, you NEED to read it! you will love it.

    i love this post and fully second everything you've said. vulnerability is necessary for love. think of puppies and children. so much vulnerability. (:

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  22. I used to be afraid of sharing my life, my experiences, my past with those I was dating. I was afraid that I would be rejected and left by the way side. Then, thanks to your blog and other blogs and books, I realized that rejection was one of the best things! I felt alive. In being rejected by those that didn't want to experience the real me I was able to find those who accepted me and appreciated my experiences.

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