Monday, June 6, 2011

life lessons: vulnerability

from this amazing blog

Something that I have been realizing lately is that I do have problems being vulnerable to people. Even to my closest friends and family, even to my husband! I instinctively push away, make a joke, smooth a subject over when I feel uncomfortably open to people. It's like I'm a lobster protecting my soft underbelly with a hard outer shell. Even my cats can lay there with their soft little bellies exposed! Why is it so hard for me to look someone in the eye and tell them that I love them!?

I'm sure this is a common issue, but for me it's one that I didn't even know I had until recently. It's just been lurking on my shoulder, dropping little negative suggestions from time to time.

"Don't talk about your issues, you will look less in control."

"Don't tell people how much they mean to you, they'll just think you're a sap."

"Don't go for that opportunity, you'll just look stupid."

It seems that avoiding being vulnerable is all about appearances. And I thought I didn't care about what other people think. Huh.

It's not super obvious (at least to me), but vulnerability isn't a weakness, it's necessary in order for relationships to thrive and risks to be taken. Strength, then, isn't a measure of how "perfect" or "together" a person is, but how confident they are in risking their image or emotions for what they think is right or beneficial.

Now that I've realized these things, what do I do about it? I've found that eye contact is a huge part of emotional communication. I have a really hard time making eye contact with people, it makes me super uncomfortable. If I make eye contact with someone, it forces me to take what they are saying seriously (even if what they are saying is emotionally uncomfortable) but the real kicker is that it makes me take what I am saying seriously. I often forget that my friends and family want to hear what I have to say and that they will take me seriously as long as they know that I take myself seriously.

So, I guess it's all about respect. It's hard to look someone in the eye if you don't respect them or what they are saying. It's hard to look someone in the eye if you know you're bullshitting them. What I've got to realize is that people will respect me even if I let myself be vulnerable to them. That my vulnerability will not necessarily be judged as a weakness. And, who cares what anyone else thinks anyway?

Does anyone else struggle with opening up to people, even friends and family? What have you done to handle these insecurities?

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