One of the reasons I started a blog was to be able to share some of the things that I have learned the hard way, with the hope of helping others to avoid the same mistakes. The most important motivation however was to be able to testify to the power of God's work in my life, encouraging the readers to seek Him.
But, I have run into two roadblocks in keeping up with my blog that I didn't think about when I started. The first one is the fear that I really don't have enough to offer. The second one has been the fear of being vulnerable, which I have spent my life avoiding.
To overcome the first block, I have read a lot of blogs about blogging and have simply decided that my only choice is to push through and write, and let the readers decide for themselves if there is something that can help them. To overcome the second block, I have decided that I need to learn how to be more vulnerable and authentic.
As I have waded through a lot of information on the subject, I stumbled onto a TED Talk by Brene Brown on The Power of Vulnerability. She is a researcher who studied what it meant to be vulnerable and what she found after much study and numerous interviews was an underlying cause for avoiding vulnerability that surprised her.
Brown discovered that those who resist vulnerability had one overwhelming characteristic. They all had a deep sense of shame, in that they were convinced that there was something in them that proved themselves to be unworthy for connection with others.
In the group of people who did not resist vulnerability but embraced it, they had a strong sense of love and belonging which came from their deep sense of belief in the fact that they truly were worthy of connection.
In the group that found themselves able to be vulnerable and authentic, they all had two common factors. One was that they had a sense of courage in telling the story of who they truly were, to be imperfect, and in letting go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they truly were.
The second common trait is that they fully embraced being vulnerable to others and found that it was not only necessary but it was what made them desirable. Embracing this trait made them willing to give to others even if they received nothing in return.
They understood that the breakdown of vulnerability came from fear, shame and unworthiness while it created a break through for joy, creativity, belonging and love.
With this all being said, I have seen that the feeling of a lack of worth has indeed been what has kept me from being authentic in my own relationships. It has all stemmed from the "what-ifs". What if people figure out I am less acceptable than everyone else? What if I reveal who I truly am and people don't like it? What if people can't look past all of my imperfections? It seems pretty risky.
What I found really interesting were the responses or coping strategies Brown found that were developed by those who avoid vulnerability. The first one is that they numb the feelings that come from a lack of true connection by distraction.
Brown points out that we are the most obese, in debt, addicted people that our country has ever seen. We use all sorts of things to keep us from feeling the emptiness that comes from wearing the masks we create to cover our true selves. The only problem is that if we numb ourselves from the risk of connecting, we also numb ourselves from the joy that it brings.
My son discovered the fear that vulnerability brings in an interesting way recently. He attends a unique Bible College in the middle of the Montana wilderness and during a class on Spiritual Disciplines they were required to spend 48 hours by themselves in the middle of nowhere. All they could take with them was one days worth of food (one day they fasted), water, camping gear and their Bible. He said that it was one of the most intimidating things he has every done.
He had really looked forward to two full days doing nothing but connecting to God. What he found was an intense realization that he had nothing to hide behind or to distract himself with when dealing with the feelings that came from what the Lord was revealing to him about their relationship. Sometimes its easier to simply busy ourselves with things and not risk what connection requires.
Brown went on to say that we also try to perfect ourselves, things, and other people around us in order to conjure up an "unrealistic reality". Social media is a perfect outlet for that since we can create the persona we want to expose. Brown points out that we can also pretend that what we do doesn't really have an impact on people, which we all know is simply not true.
So then, what do we need to do to allow ourselves to be seen by others and to be fully known? Brown gives us 3 ideas to get us started.
1. Learn to love others with our whole hearts even without a guarantee that we will be loved in return.
2. Practice gratitude for what we have in our lives and what we can offer to others.
3. Start believing that we are enough and that we don't have to live in the shame that we are tricked into believing.
As we know, none of these things are easy to do, especially without eliminating the feelings of shame, fear and unworthiness that cause the problems in the first place. This is what we will look at next. Hope you join me!
If you do find any of this, helpful, please share with someone you know!!