Women come to me with an array of heartbreaking journeys on their quest for the right person, belonging, and love. They all have unique stories and histories that bring them to my doorstep but there is one thing they typically have in common. Research shows that the one thing that stands in the way of people achieving loving healthy relationships is that they all avoid….
Ick. Who wants to feel vulnerable?! Well that is the problem. In our effort to avoid feeling vulnerable we numb ourselves to other feelings. According to Brene Brown, a researcher who studies vulnerability and shame and its affects on our relationships, when we numb our uncomfortable feelings, we also numb the positive feelings like love, belonging, happiness, curiosity, creativity, worthiness. Brown outlines the 3 characteristics of people who are considered “whole-hearted” and welcome in love. These characteristics include:
The courage to be imperfect- Trust and belief that the unique traits you posses are what makes you a beautiful interesting person. Embrace those.
Compassion for yourself and then for others: Treating others with compassion cannot be achieved until you have compassion for yourself. Let go of shame you have for who you are, what you have done, or what was done to you. Let go of that critical voice in your mind. You are a beautiful worthy person and start talking to yourself like you are.
Authentic connections: The only way to achieve this is to let go of who you think they want you to be and embrace who you are.
What do all of these have in common? You got it, vulnerability. You must embrace it to have courage, compassion, and true authentic connections. Without it you create a massive barrier that prevents people from getting to know the real you and you are worthy of love and belonging. Give yourself a chance and others an opportunity to get to see the real you.
Here are some exercises to start to embrace your vulnerability:
1. Be Mindful - Rather than push down difficult feelings as soon as they bubble up, take a moment to experience them. The next time you get in a difficult situation where your temper starts to rise, or you feel upset, or embarrassed, ask yourself, “what is going on for me right now?” Pay attention to your feelings, thoughts, and even how your body feels. Are you tensed up? Does your stomach hurt? Get to know yourself better.
2. Try Something New – Take that risk to try something you always wanted to but were afraid to do it because you didn’t have someone to do it with you or you were waiting for that special someone to come along it could be “your thing”. For example, ballroom dancing, rock climbing, hiking, camping, etc. One great resource in your community, no matter where you live, is meetup.com. Find a group that is also interested in the same thing you are and take a risk to go to a meetup. They have everything from dinner groups, business groups, knitting, and outdoor lover groups. If you can’t muster up the courage to do it alone, bring a friend! If that is still too nerve wrecking try going to the location of the meeting with no pressure of attending, just to see who shows up. Next time you might be closer to getting out of your car and joining them.
3. Spend Time Alone - Why would you want someone to spend time alone with you if you don’t want to spend time alone with you? Go ahead and date yourself. Cook yourself a fancy dinner, take yourself out for coffee, go to the movies. The more you enjoy your own company the more others will too. Don’t be afraid of those quiet moments where you are left alone with your thoughts. Journaling is also a great way to cope with the thoughts that enter our mind when the distractions of the world are removed. It will also give you more clarity to what is going on internally so you can intentionally replace critical thoughts about yourself with more positive ones.
Whenever you feel vulnerable you have a great opportunity to get to know yourself. The more you face vulnerable moments the more they won’t seem so scary and you will be closer to becoming your authentic self.