I’ll come right out and say it, “I’m the vision board type”. I’m not necessarily proud of it but it’s there right next to the socks I sleep in because I get cold at night and still listening to too much classic rock. I like positive messages, words, and images and I collect them, pieces of them, and post them around as reminders to me of the good things.
The past few weeks I’ve been meditating on words to focus on in the new year. It started when a friend was talking about trying to be more “brave” this year. I thought it was an interesting goal. I like words as mantras: Open. Breathe. Feel.
So I began to make a list of words I wanted in my life this year: gentle, inclusive, light, healing, trust, attract, healthy. I threw in some things I wanted to incorporate more in my everyday: write, antioxidants, exercise. I created a Wordle for my desktop and considered it an unfinished piece.
Creating a list led to me over analyze some words, like “genuine”; I get it a lot and I take it as a compliment but I picked it apart as a possible weakness. Why? Because it might mean simple-minded; as in I'm not savvy enough to monitor myself around others. This lead me to consider “trust”, my Achilles heal.
As I grow older I realize how much we don’t honestly open our hearts to each other. We protect our truths from those around us because we live in a competitive society and there is a chance our weaknesses will be used against us. So we act in ways that represent who we want to be, rather than who we are. I'm all about faking it until you make it, but I'm also all about being authentic.
The other day I watched a TEDxHouston presentation, Expanding Perceptions 2010
presented by Dr. Brené Brown, a researcher professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work. This brought a whole new perspective to light; which is to say data supports how utterly important it is that we embrace our vulnerabilities and open ourselves to each other in an effort to connect.
I have never been comfortable experiencing vulnerability; so much so, I rarely let it happen. I'm too fascinated with analyzing and controlling outcomes to be open as me, to connect with others, and to let the chips fall where they will. Last year though, I became so fluidly vulnerable there was nothing to do but soak in it. And when I was fully saturated, I then got scared my exposed vulnerability would disappear. I felt so raw I couldn’t do anything other than stand in the moment: good or bad (sometimes it is about 5 minutes at a time).
I welcomed the change even though it also meant sitting with my history about how I have acted and what I had done to other people. Are we really who we used to be? Am I really who I was?
It also meant letting others in, trusting them, and seeing people with open, honest eyes rather than how I wanted them to be or how they wanted me to think they were.
More words were added to my list after listening to Dr. Brown's insight: vulnerability, compassion, courage. Courage as the ability to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. Wow - what a great definition of a word. Worthiness; which right now seems so much more powerful than any other word I can come up with in the English language. Am I worthy? That's a silly question. But more accurately, how long have I felt I wasn’t worthy?
Love. Belonging. Wholehearted. Joy. Gratitude.
It’s all good and well to have great mantra words and a positive persona online but what about in the physical and emotional reality of every day? With the emphasis on vulnerability I have to ask myself if I can handle moving forward with an open heart. Me? I’m so proud, so silent, and so untrusting. I’m so vulnerable that I won’t let myself be vulnerable. I think of it as a dirty word = Dark. Negative. Weak.
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm: we were in a vulnerableposition | small fish are vulnerable to predators.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Latin vulnerare ‘to wound’
Predators. Yeah I know them and at some point I've been one too. It doesn’t feel good either way and in some cases, it is necessary for our survival, right?! But I’m more utopic than that when it comes to my approach to life. For all my vacillating, all my struggling, I am an optimist at heart. Deep down at the bottom of the well, the foundation, I believe that good prevails. I also understand now that pain, hurt, and anger are valid and necessary and as much of a part of who we are as bliss.
I don’t think I have ever said “I love you” to someone before they have said it to me. I rarely put myself out there because of my trust issues. I certainly have extended the olive branch but never time and time again until the other person is finally ready to move forward. Perhaps someone else knows more about it than me, or perhaps they are right and I am wrong. It comes back to worthiness.
So here I am: I'm sorry if I have ever hurt you. And I'm sorry if you have ever hurt me. As humans, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm giving up my quest for perfection. I now stand with a stake in the ground, holding hard and true to my worth in an effort to feel love and belonging; in an effort to connect.