Vulnerability STEP TWO

There is NO way I would have been in a place to meet & marry Danny after my divorce if I had been crippled by fear.  There is no way we would have connected as we did if either of us had been holding back.
how to be more vulnerable

This post is about the second step I could identify in my own journey of becoming more vulnerable – more willing to share, connect, be comfortable with myself regardless of my circumstances, etc.

I know many of us will have different journeys, and none of them will be exactly the same.  But many people wanted a more nitty gritty picture of how I went from feeling zero vulnerability to being feeling it ALL THE TIME…..I’m doing my best here to explain it, in case it’s helpful to anyone.

See my STEP 2 here…….

STEP 2:  LET GO OF FEAR.  (In case you missed my STEP ONE, read that here 🙂

Fear held me back from really living.  Despite having very loving parents who raised me to have confidence & worth & love – – – I found myself in a 7 year marriage where I no longer felt those things.  I guess I hadn’t fully learned to OWN my own worth yet, so I was prone to wrongfully thinking that my circumstances or how others treated me determined my worth.  THAT LED TO GREAT FEAR!

-Fear that I wasn’t really loved.
-Fear that I couldn’t look a certain way or act a certain way because that might compromise how my spouse felt about me.
-Fear of the sadness I would feel if he did in fact leave me & publicly reject me & divorce me.
-Fear of how I would face a single life in the state I was in.
-Fear that I could never heal from the hurt & the sadness that I felt.
-Fear that others probably didn’t see my worth, either, since he didn’t.
-Fear that I would never be loved by someone who did actually love me.
-Fear that I would never have a family.


As you can see, in those sad days, every move was driven by FEAR…because it felt as if my worth was on the line. 


And it wasn’t because of a divorce (that came a year later).  It wasn’t because my ex-husband started loving me.  This is key:  My circumstances didn’t changeHis behavior didn’t change 

My fears came to an end because I discovered my worth.

You see – for me, the greatest result of knowing deeply that I was truly worth something was that……I knew I would *STILL* be worth something…

EVEN IF unfortunate things happened to me… 
EVEN IF my husband left me (which he did)
EVEN IF I never had kids (which I have not been able to)
EVEN IF I did something embarrassing (which I do all the time, including on this blog.  ha! 🙂
EVEN IF my voice shook or the perfect words did not come out of my mouth (daily)
EVEN IF someone disapproved of me (it happens)
EVEN IF I made a fool of myself (yep)
EVEN IF my worst nightmares came true (yep)

Having deep, deep worth means that your performance doesn’t matter.  Others’ behavior towards you doesn’t matter.  Outcomes don’t matter.  You know that you have worth no matter what happens – just as you are!  Right now!  With all your flaws!  No matter what others say or do! 

With this perspective, I hope you can see that THERE IS NO LONGER A NEED OR A PLACE FOR FEAR!!!  🙂  🙂 

In fact, as you start to follow STEP ONE and tap into your self-worth, there’s a chance that letting go of fear will not be that difficult.  It may actually just start to melt away on it’s own.  And, WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF VULNERABILITY….with a sense of worth & without crippling fear, vulnerability will just be a part of who you are.  You’ll soon be connecting with whoever the heck you want.  And it will be meaningful.   Or not.  And you’ll feel your worth just the same.

[And I’ll admit, believing that God smiles upon each & every one of us has helped me leaps & bounds to feel my worth.  I hope you can tap into that, too, or find a constant stream of love & approval from whatever your great spiritual influence is in your life.]

And now, for the fun stuff….

What can you do to practice being vulnerable in your new fearless skin??

-Be comfortable & happy with who you are.
-Share a joke and not care if anybody laughs.
-Open your mouth & share something when you have something to say.
-Reach out to people you don’t know.
-Dance crazy in the kitchen.
-Walk down the beach and feel beautiful.
-Tell someone you love them.
-Do something bold and scary.
-Speak your “truth” or your story in public.
-Raise your hand in a class & share an experience or your perspective.
-Act fun & sexy (or just goofy) around your lover.

Note:  If you are still feeling like it’s hard to let go of the fear, that could be a sign to go back to STEP ONE & work on developing your worthiness some more (fear is a great little reminder to us!  So if it happens, embrace it for that reason :).  And  by the way, tapping into your worth really isn’t a one shot deal 🙂 It’s something I think we’ll likely need to revisit over & over & over (I definitely do!)….and holy crap, there are some pretty heavy duty fears in this world.  But the process of going back to step 1, then step 2, will become easier & easier & quicker & quicker the more you do it.  And even for the really, really difficult things, even if it’s harder to be free, even if it involves our deepest loved ones….you will still know the process….you will still know what you need to do to turn things around & to free yourself of fear.  And it’s worth doing, for all of us….because fear does not stop death, it stops life.

I would LOVE to hear how this goes for you.  I hope so much that you’ll find a way to start your own journey.  I am rooting for you all so much, you can’t imagine.

And to get you envisioning the possibilities, what is a fear you’d like to do without?   🙂 🙂 

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  1. Katherine Rene March 12, 2012 at 7:14 am - Reply

    I LOVE this! 🙂
    reminds me of a John Bythway quote: "Whenever we use another person's reaction toward us as the sole measuring stick for our own self-worth, we climb aboard a rollar coaster with an enless track of ups and downs."

    Thanks for being a great example and sharing your road to happiness, you have no idea how much this helped me today.

  2. Jessica March 12, 2012 at 11:56 am - Reply

    I would love to get rid of the fear that came into my life when I had my first child and that just increased with the next two children. Fear of them dying, fear of me dying and not being able to care for them, fear of not being a good enough mother, fear of the teenage years, fear of them leaving home when they had been my whole life, etc. And it goes on and on. An endless stream of thoughts, and worries, and fears. Before I had kids I was fun and carefree and now I just feel crippled by fear of the future and the unknown. I had no idea that the love I would feel for my children would be so intense and overwhelming, or that it would cause so much fear and anxiety. When I do talk to my husband or parents about this they always tell me to turn it over to the Lord. Easier said then done, I can't figure out why I stubbornly cling to these fears that overshadow the joy my children bring to my life.

    • Amanda April 18, 2012 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      Slightly different playing field, but same applicable message: When my students (I work at a university) express their stress and anxiety about finding a job once they graduate, I ask them: "how will stressing and worrying about whether you'll find a job in 3 months HELP you find a job in 3 months?" Is the stress and worry worth your time and energy RIGHT NOW when you could be focusing on your papers and studying for your test? By all means, be proactive about your job search, be sending resumes, watching job boards, continue your networking, but let go of the anxiety that is controlling your sanity RIGHT NOW.

      How is this applicable to this comment? How is worrying RIGHT NOW about your children dying, you dying, them growing up to be icky teens, leaving the nest, being a good mother, etc, STOPPING IT FROM HAPPENING?????

      It's not, it all may still happen whether or not you worry about it all the time, everyday.

      Deal with it as it comes, worrying/stressing about something is not going to prepare or prevent something from happening and you are wasting your precious energy and happiness on a futile venture. Be proactive, (as I'm sure you already are) by teaching your children to be kind, to look both ways crossing the street, to not eat glue or bleach, go to the doctor and get a physical every year, etc.

      By living in the moment and giving up worrying about what might be, you can enjoy every precious moment of those kiddies lives.

      When one of these fears pop up, ask yourself "what can I do to change/prevent that from happening?" If the answer is nothing, then let it go, that is trusting in the Lord.

    • danny April 19, 2012 at 4:55 am - Reply

      I love this Amanda! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and for helping us reach out to another reader. I always wish I could respond to each and every question that comes in. I certainly couldn't have done it any better, and have tried sharing the same perspective with others many times.

  3. Lottie March 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Throwing away the fear is one of the most liberating things I have done–well that I try to do as sometimes they creep back in. It has just made me realise that life is too short to be afraid and not live life to the full 🙂

  4. Birdie in DC March 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    I love this advice and totally agree with it. I realize that like Jessica, I harbor worries– I've been trying to just act when i can, and then let the rest go…. it's a good exercise, but something I have to practice.

  5. Birdie in DC March 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    One other thought, a therapist told me once that there are three main things that cause misery: "Catastrophizing"– meaning making something a catastrophe (a bigger deal than it really is) rather than just dealing with the situation, this leads to paralysis and makes you feel like you are out of control. Instead, she recommends looking at component parts of a situation to determine what you can do in the face of the situation, and recognizing that it is probably not the end of the world.
    The other is comparisons, or "ladder syndrome"– when you rank everyone's value, including your own, on some scale (e.g. she's skinnier= more valuable) when in fact every person, including you, is worth one (amazing beloved) person regardless of any arbitrary scale. And Finally "SHOULDS" — we apply dogmatic shoulds to ourselves and others and if we don't measure up, we hold it against ourselves (e.g. I should do the dishes, if I don't I am a slob). In fact, looking at life with preferences rather than shoulds empowers us and eliminates unnecessary judgement(e.g. I'd prefer to do the dishes now so that I can have a clean sink).
    Sometimes it helps to identify when I am using one of these faulty trains of thought and then I can redirect and let it go more easily!

    • Mairi March 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      There is so much truth in these words…

    • Jane March 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Yes Birdie, great wisdom, thank you!

  6. Mairi March 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Your post made me write this:

    Tell her I ‘m looking out for her.
    Tell her the earth is round and she is able
    to walk it back and forth in any style she pleases.
    Tell her that fear is part of this life and also joy.
    Tell her not to be scared to live.
    Tell her that she will get hurt and that she will hurt.
    Tell her to dance and eat.
    To travel and read.
    To be compassionate.
    Tell her that she will be right and wrong.
    Tell her the darkness comes and then the light. And then again.
    Tell her she is beautiful.
    Tell her she is loved.
    Tell her this is only the beginning.

    • Sage March 13, 2012 at 12:55 am - Reply

      Mairi, that is beautiful. Thank you.

  7. rubi March 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    love your blog so much mara. i can't tell you enough.

  8. anna March 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    I used to have big issues with my body. I am thin and always wanted to bet fatter. My husband loved the way I looked but so many other people – all women – always made comments about my weight. I had someone point out that the mean comments were out of jealousy and reflected the commenter's own body issues. She told me to come up with a response about how hurtful those comments are and be ready to say it. As I prepared my speech and comebacks over and over in my head I started to hear my own voice about myself. I actually like the way I look but my head had been filled with everyone else's negative comments – their body issues. I think having confidence and loving ourself is listening to our voice. And if our voice is not so loving, it is saying loving things to ourself Over and over until we believe it. Do not let other people define who you believe you are!! You have the power to change the way you feel about yourself.

    Great posts Mara!!

  9. Jane March 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    Sorry to re-hash the "wife-of-a-porn-addict" bit, but it's been my defining struggle. For me there was/is the struggle of fear of the next relapse, fear of the addiction progressing, fear of infidelity, fear of being inadequate for him. Oh the fears! So this is something I work on daily. Here is my most recent favorite quote on fear. (From the March Readers Digest quotes.)

    "If you fixate on the worst-case scenario, and it actually happens, you've lived it twice."
    Michael J. Fox

    Thanks Mara.

  10. Bri!!! March 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Birdie, amazing comment. Jane, loved that quote! SO TRUE! Mara, loved this post! And that first quote is PERFECT! Fear is so interesting to me. Lately I have been having fears about my upcoming birth. You gotta understand, I am a birth junkie. The birth of my son changed my life even though it did not happen the way I wanted it to. I am planning on having an out of hospital birth with this baby. I know it's safe 99% of the time (same statistics as in hospital birth for low risk women), yet I have had bouts of crippling fear about it. Recently I realized it is linked to the 4 miscarriages/infertility I experienced between my son and now this birth. I was so strong during that time. It seems now all the grief and pain I experienced the past few years have come to a head as I prepare to bring our baby girl into the world. I know I need to deal with these things, and even since recognizing what was causing this overwhelming fear has already helped a bit. Similar to what Jessica said, having children can bring a whole new bag of fears…yet that is why it's so beautiful. By choosing to have children, you are allowing yourself to be vulnerable in such a deep way. It's magical yet you always have to make sure to be vulnerable not fearful! Thanks for this post. Fear has been in my thoughts lately because it's something I'm really working on at the moment.

  11. Anonymous March 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Oh Mara I just love you! Even after not seeing you for almost 20 years I still love you and consider you a dear friend! I was probably in my mid-twenties when I started to comprehend what you've just written and it absolutely changed everything for me (nothing changed around me, just me!)… the funny thing is that after having 2 kids now and almost 10 years later, I've had to "re-learn" these things again… thank you for the reminder!
    Love Ya
    Becky (McCleve) Traeger

    • mara March 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm - Reply

      BECKY! I just love you, too. SO fun to see your name here (& on fb). I don't think I've seen you since high school. But I remember you so fondly & also still consider you a dear friend. I appreciated your friendship so much in high school. I really hope our paths cross again sometime. And thanks so much for writing in….

  12. Tanya and Colin March 13, 2012 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Big thanks to you for being open and honest; you have said more than you could ever have imagined! I feel inspired!

  13. Anonymous March 13, 2012 at 2:28 am - Reply

    I finally discovered my worth by realizing that my worth isn't based on my opinion of whether or not I am worthy, I am worth something because he (God) says I am. It's the same for everyone once you stop basing your worth on your own opinion of how you define worth you realize that you have it because of something outside yourself it's not based on what you do or don't do how you look or how you don't look what you say or what you don't say etc. God knows all and therefore if he says you have worth, well then you probably do 🙂 even if you don't agree, I'm sure he is always right!

  14. Laurie March 14, 2012 at 3:29 am - Reply

    Mara, Thanks so much for this post. It was exactly what i needed today. The fear and anxiety over all the decisions i have had to make the past couple of weeks that will affect the rest of my life have been hard! Sometimes i let all of it get to me. But, after i read your post, I thought, Oh yah, everything will be alright. Deep breath, God has a plan for me, he is leading me, my decisions are validated and will protect me and my family. And then, i calmed down. Thanks! love you

  15. Alison Rae March 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    I just came across this article and I am in love with this idea. It really goes well with the idea of vulnerability in marriage.Don't be fooled by the title, the article is definitely pro marriage! Enjoy!

  16. The Harper Family March 17, 2012 at 4:11 am - Reply

    I love these two vulnerability posts! Often we consider being vulnerable a bad thing, but I love how you have made it into a GOOD thing…a GREAT thing! What a refreshing perspective. Thank you!

  17. Jordan P March 29, 2012 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this! I secretly stalk your blog, but I couldn't not comment about this post and thank you. I literally had a breakdown just last night because I was overwhelmed with so many fears and worries, and then the feelings of inadequacy creep in. So I'm making mental notes of your thoughts and all of these comments to repeat to myself everyday. Thank you!

  18. Tessa October 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    This comment is late buuut I just had to say thank you!! I love love LOVED this post!! As a high schooler, I think a lot of our fears come from social situations. Fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, not being trendy, cracking a stupid joke, saying something stupid in class, not knowing what to say to that insanely attractive guy in your class and making a fool of yourself. Fear of what others opinions of us might be. I always thought of myself as awkward because i'd get anxious in front of guys etc. etc. etc. but after reading this post I realize it's all fear! And it's not keeping in mind that we are worth everything to Our Heavenly Father and it doesn't matter what anyone thinks!! Last EFY I decided I wasn't going to be shy and let loose and It was the most fun I've had in FOREVER!! Because I let go of those fears, I was able to meet soooo many people I wouldn't normally have met and I felt so confident about myself. After that experience I've come to see fear as a waste of time and energy!! When we fear, just like you said, we miss out on amazing opportunities aaaaand it is so much more fun to just be yourself and not care what anybody thinks! So, thank you!! I LOVE this blog!! I found it yesterday and didn't go to bed till 2am and here I am reading it again:)

    • danny October 22, 2012 at 1:25 am - Reply

      Thanks Tessa, what a great comment and I totally agree with you, fear is a waste of time and energy!

      So glad you've figured that out so young, and that you've learned to see the various forms that fear takes on in our lives. I've learned I have to be pretty vigilant and very aware to understand the many forms that fear takes on in so many different areas of life.

      Never have I regretted finding a way to dismiss that fear and move forward with greater courage, faith, and love.

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