Let Yourself Be Seen…your true self. This was a line from a Ted talk by Brene Brown that I watched this morning. Her speech was about being vulnerable. With over 10 million views, it’s obvious that a lot of us must be thinking, wondering and actioning how to best “show up” authentically and to let down our defenses enough to be vulnerable to get our needs met.
I hadn’t heard of Brene before, (not sure how, Google her, she’s everywhere) but it was such a good talk. I’d gone on a walk with a girlfriend and she recommended I watch it. For the first few minutes, I half-listened while cleaning up my desktop and multi-tasking. About 4 minutes in, she had my complete attention with zingers like…
She talked about how we try so hard to “selectively numb” emotions -pain, discomfort, anxiety – whether through food, alcohol, medication, the consequence is that we also numb the positive emotions. For me, a peacemaker/confrontation avoider/negotiator from birth, this definitely resonated. In the past few years, I’ve worked hard to resist the urge to not use my voice in case that meant someone wouldn’t like me. My 20s were filled with enough of that. Instead of saying what I think someone wants to hear, I try really hard to be truthful, but to deliver that truth in constructive, thoughtful ways. Obviously, this doesn’t always work, but it is the intention I work with on a daily basis.
When you’re a grown up, you have to make big girl decisions and have big girl conversations. I know for me, this can be uncomfortable and/or scary. I don’t want to cause a fight, nag or have someone be annoyed or irritated by me. I worry about walking the line between being a bitch and a push-over – for me, the middle ground gets murky quickly. I get angry when I’m hurt or and resentful when I feel my needs aren’t being met. It’s not pretty, but it’s real. When I listened to this talk this morning, it resonated a lot because everyone has these fears. Fears of being shot down, not good enough, not doing the best, rejection – you name it – one of us if not most of us, is feeling it. So why can’t we all collectively hold hands and drop our guard already?
Starting a conversation with a simple, “Can you help me with this? It’s important to me…” is a good place to begin. I’m not sure I have the answers on how to best speak from your vulnerability. I feel my face turn pink at the thought of it. (and mentally revert back to my 7-year old self as a new kid in school, gulp) But isn’t that better than, “You never listen to me! I asked you three weeks ago so clearly I’m not a priority in your life!”. And, no, thank goodness, I haven’t uttered the second statement out loud to anyone, but I’ve certainly thought it! Seeing it in writing, it’s just a touch obvious that no good will come of saying (yelling, whining) this productive, little soundbite. Oy.
After the talk, I went to Brene’s website and read a bit more. I also looked up some quotes on Good Reads. My conclusion: if you can drop your guard and muster up the courage to talk to your partner/family member/friend about the big stuff and you can both agree to a) give each other the space to stumble through the words b) let the other person finish the thought without interrupting and c) acknowledge that both people’s needs are important, serious progress can be made. You may not always agree, but feeling heard and knowing your person is at least doing his/her best to understand goes a very long way. Simple, not easy.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” -B.B.
So there you have it. That’s my learning for the day. We’ll see how it goes and I’m sure I’ll be doing a little more stream of consciousness work on this topic down the road! Happy Friday. May it be peaceful, authentic and happy. Xxoo