What scares you most in your life? Not spiders, or natural disasters or all-you-can-eat buffets. Think internal, base level fears. Do you fear being lonely? Being rejected? Being poor? How honest can you get with yourself, and others, about deep fear and have you ever tried?
Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is and speaker/teacher on self-inquiry, says there are no new and unique thoughts (and it’s our thoughts that perpetuate our fears). Any thought you have – ‘I don’t think she/he loves me’, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I can’t do that’, is not exclusive to you.
When it comes to personal struggle especially, humans are not unique in the slightest. My fears are your fears. We may express and cope with them differently but peer behind the façade we play out for the world and we’re all the same. Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted but we’re scared.
The solution? Vulnerability.
Why be vulnerable?
Being vulnerable is less about the exposing of our weak spots and more about shining a pacifying light onto the silent, ubiquitous truth of who we are.
Acknowledging to others your true feelings, needs and desires affords them the opportunity to give you what you want and to be equally as honest with you about their needs. What a revolutionary way to interact in comparison to the usual assumption-making guessing games we all play so well.
Think of someone in your life that makes you angry or sad. Now think of them in terms of this:
I am scared to tell you how I feel because then I afford you the opportunity to be honest with me about how you feel. Depending on your answer, I will have access to feeling really good or really bad. Either way, I believe that in my being vulnerable, frightening things will happen.
The truth is, they won’t. You will experience an emotion based on their answer. It doesn’t matter what it is. You will wake up, you will drive, you will eat, you will go to work, you will shop.
How you are feeling doesn’t stop life from playing out but saying the things that you’re scared to, but need to, for your personal betterment, affords you freedom. It also abates the glum nagging of what-ifs and should-haves.
The truth about being vulnerable
The scariness of being vulnerable should always be outweighed by the fear of life never being more than it currently is. This is not something we’re taught. You have to teach it to yourself now, and everyday after this one because your reptilian brain will want to forget this easy-hard truth.
It wants you to contract and recoil for safety’s sake. But what it’s afraid of most is its own imaginings. True safety is in freedom and freedom needs all the space in your world.
Vulnerability is a strength because it is about as honest as we can get as humans. There is strength in the admission of who you are because it affords others the opportunity and space to be who they are in relation to your honesty.
What a gift that is to give.
How to be vulnerable
Being vulnerable is easier that you think and it feels comfortable faster than you realise. It’s as simple as taking a deep breath and just saying the damn thing, sending the email, signing up for the class.
It takes a few short seconds of bravery to change what is happening in your life. To take control, to be an alteration agent. It’s these little moments of choosing to act in a way that is different to what you’ve always done, even though it feels prickly, that will put you on a fast-track trajectory to happiness.
The discomfort of being vulnerable, of taking perceived (but usually fake) risk is temporary. It’s not painstakingly removing stiches. It’s ripping off a Band-Aid. Fast. Effective.
The bottom line
Remember, feelings are just feelings. They can’t do anything to you and when you allow them to be, without distraction, they disappear. Think of them as sea swells. Rising. Falling. Gone.
Now take a deep breath, be vulnerable, and do one thing that scares you. I promise you two things: 1. You will feel viscerally alive afterwards, 2. Your life will expand and magic will abound.