What Makes You Squirm?
The way most of us shun being vulnerable, you'd think there was something shameful about showing our soft underbelly or sharing our struggles.
When you think about it, what makes you feel totally vulnerable and exposed? How about:
- Getting laid off
- Applying for a job
- Asking someone for a date
- Telling someone you're unemployed or struggling in a new job
- Asking for help
- Telling someone you're lonely
- Telling someone you love them before you know how they feel about you
- Thinking you need to lose weight or change your body shape
- Admitting you have a chronic disease or 'something wrong with' your body
- Thinking you're not good enough exactly as you are
- Putting yourself or your work 'out there' publicly
- Stating what you want or who you are to the world
I don't know about you, but just the thought of putting one of these things out in the world makes me squirm in discomfort. I like to appear worthy, strong and in control of my life at all times. The thought of coming clean about any of these gives me pause--yet what's so bad about any of these things anyway?
The Unexpected Consequences of Bad Thoughts
What's startling is when you look behind our need to hide the last part of our tale you'll discover a sense of shame is driving the cover up. I know-- really embarrassing to admit. Kind of gives you the shame shudders to realize the thoughts behind the need to hide: I'm not good enough; I'm not worthy; I'm imperfect; or there's something wrong with me.
According to Brene Brown, author of 'The Gifts of Imperfection' and TED Talk, 'The Power of Vulnerability', shame is the fear of disconnection--we think there is something so shameful about us that if people really knew us they would reject us--so we keep our mouth shut and stay invisible.
The unexpected consequences of thinking this way is it keeps us from being seen, heard, and known by others. Through our secret negative thoughts we bring on the very thing we fear--a feeling of disconnection and distance from others.
The Inner Conflict--The Desire to be Seen vs. Invisible
I'm fascinated by a duality of thought I've witnessed in myself--and I suspect is present in you too. Although I live my life in a 'naturally authentic what you see is what you get' way, there is another hidden truth at work deep within me. As I show myself so completely in the world I am also acutely aware of how much remains hidden and unseen by others. I am a master at artfully keeping myself hidden in plain sight.
I once read that an artist is a person who has an overwhelming desire to be seen at the very same time she has an overwhelming desire not to be found. I don't think you need to be an artist to find this conflicting thought at work within yourself.
Consider that moment you showed up for a job interview, first date, public speaking engagement, or first day on the job. What was your internal dialogue? There's always that singular moment when we feel vulnerable and exposed---and that's the moment we want to be seen, heard and known and it's the very same moment we want to retreat, be invisible and keep quiet.
We all experience these private moments of trepidation at the very moment of exposure. Think of them as mini-crises. A crisis is merely a turning point--a moment in time when an important decision is made. The Chinese symbol for crisis is two pronged with the meaning dangerous opportunity.
Another unexpected consequence of your negative thoughts is when you acknowledge them as natural consequences of stepping into your life you give yourself choice and opportunity. It always feels dangerous to be seen, to be heard and to be known. It is also thrilling.
To step into your life and achieve your heart's desire you must experience, then walk past, the fear of not being worthy or good enough. Choose to see this moment of fear as your 'dangerous opportunity' and consciously chose to step out of the danger into the opportunity.
Choose to Be Seen, Choose to Connect
Practice finding your courage in your moments of crises and decide to show yourself instead of to hide. The more consciously you practice this, the better you'll get at stepping into the opportunities that are always present in your life.
In 'Four Steps to Authentic Communication' Robert Holden shares a Zulu greeting so simple and direct it's worthy of practicing it in your head even if it unnerves you too much to say out loud. When you come into the presence of another person face one another, look directly into each other's eyes and say 'I'm here to be seen'. The other person replies, 'I see you'.
Choose to be seen and choose to connect. Practice stepping out into your life, knowing you have value and wealth inside you worthy of sharing. Your vulnerability and imperfections are what make you lovable and human. Choose to use them to your advantage.
View Brene Brown's TED Talk-- The Power of Vulnerability
Thank you to Laura Ingels and Molly Erwin for posting this TED talk on Facebook.
Do you need help stepping past the danger and into the opportunities in your life? For more than 25 years Susan J Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule single or on-going coaching sessions.