Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do when we’re terrified about what other people may think – Brené Brown
I am about to do something that makes me uncomfortable, I am going to write a post that feels more about me, than about you. By the end, you will understand why this is important, and I’m hoping, it will encourage you to do something uncomfortable too, something that is necessary for you to grow into the person I know you are capable of being. Just like I am capable.
In her book ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ Brené Brown writes about the idea of ‘Wholehearted Living’. Brené states:
‘Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging’.
If you follow me already, you will know I am all about self-love and recognising your worth. So imagine my feelings when this book forced me to question if I am truly living from a place of worthiness.
I can tell you confidently, I have got to a place of loving and accepting myself more than I ever have before. I made active changes to how I live; I introduced healthier habits, changed how I talk to myself and committed to my values. I feel more confident within myself and I can see all the inside work has changed my outside world – from achieving career goals to having healthier relationships.
Starting a blog, running my own successful workshop, and dating throughout the year have created many, many vulnerable moments for me. Sure, there were times I would post a blog or put myself out there with dating, that for a moment made me want to hide under a rock.
But on reflection, I question how vulnerable I really allowed myself to be.
Many times I did not post what I wanted to post, I did not reach out to potential clients or mentors, I did not open up to friends or dates about ‘my story’. I kept things relatively safe for me.
My understanding, is the only reason we would hold back like that – is because somewhere, we are worrying about being judged.
To not do those things indicates to me, there must be a lack of self-belief, a belief I am not good enough. A fear that if I reveal those truths and take those risks, I might face rejection.
I have to be honest with you, being able to say I am enough is very new to me. I have only been able to say that about myself in the last 6 months. I believed it about you, but me, that’s a different story.
I know I am not on my own. I’m sure you can give your best friend kind, compassionate advice, but when it comes to you, you come down on yourself like a tonne of bricks and never think you are good enough. (You are).
So how come I can tell myself I’m enough, yet there are times where clearly, I am avoiding vulnerability and lacking in self-worth.
Well, because I am human.
Brené explains, wholehearted living is not just a destination you arrive it, it’s a way of life.
There is no way we will always get it right along the way. That’s not how life works. Sometimes, my inner critic is louder than my inner best friend. It manages to convince me I am not good enough. It will remind me of the ‘evidence’ (very rarely is that evidence factual) created from past experiences and do it’s very best to keep me from doing anything scary.
Being aware of what sends my inner critic into overdrive is vital. Those are the alarm bells telling me I feel vulnerable. In some form or another, they relate to a fear of being judged, and that is not going to go away.
The times my inner critic wins, they are becoming less, and they are about to become even fewer.
I’ve put the time in to understand my fears and what makes me feel vulnerable. For me, it comes from a place of telling my story, therefore letting people in and sharing who I am, takes an extra push from me.
Why go to the effort of being vulnerable? I know we will not reach the level of happiness we deserve until we accept who we are and be that person.
And so, I am ready to SHOW UP. No ifs, buts or maybes.
Now, personally I LOVE the term ‘showing up’, I’m aware it can get a hard time for being a bit wishy washy.
So what does ‘showing up’ in life really mean? It is definitely one of those terms that is always going to have a different meaning to each person, and that’s OK.
To me, showing up, is living a life true to you, meaning facing fears and letting go of not being good enough.
It is wholehearted living. I think that’s why this book has hit home so much.
I am talking about showing up and doing the things you are too scared to do, about saying out loud when you are sad or scared, risking judgement and failure, owning mistakes, rising above your insecurities and I am talking about taking responsibility for your reactions, your feelings and your life.
The second you blame something or someone or claim you are not good enough to try, you are not showing up.
I asked my followers what it means to show up. The consensus is that it is doing something brave, that you know will help you achieve your dream life, it’s scary but doing it anyway.
For me, showing up is going big and refusing to play small. The way I see it, if I am not going to commit to the goals I have set, I may as well not set them at all. Otherwise, all it does is make me feel sh*t and disappointed.
Going ‘big’ is defined by you, no one else. Do not compare it to anyone; you know if it is a big deal for you, you know if it is out of your comfort zone. For some people that will mean speaking in front of a thousand people, for others it will mean finding the courage to get up out of bed to face the day. Whatever it is, if you say you want to do it, do it. Don’t wait for the motivation, that isn’t coming any time soon.
Showing up does not mean we cannot redirect our goals or decide they are not suitable. Nope, it is trying (!!!) and then reviewing and then deciding the next best step.
For me, one thing is for sure – showing up will require courage, it will require feeling uncomfortable and it will require me to be vulnerable.
Only then can I be the person I know I have the potential to be.
Let’s not dismiss the hard work we have put in already.
Showing up will change as you change. The last year was a time for self-discovery. I turned 30, was newly single and just didn’t really know who I was as an individual. I showed up by committing to finding that out.
I showed up through having fun, saying yes to experiences, learning what I value, what feeds my soul, picking myself up after a dating fail, finding it in me to send ‘that’ text when I wasn’t feeling it and doing the one thing I had dreamed of for years – starting my happiness blog.
But with a new year comes reflection, and I see that my inner critic still makes too many of my decisions. There is room to show up so much more. I have no doubt, I will be saying the same again next year – this is growth.
Because our lives are too damn short and precious to play small.
There are certain areas of my life, I need to show up more. This mainly falls into two categories; business and relationships. After talking about what it means to show up and why now feels like the time to show up bigger, let’s look at HOW I intend to show up. I hope even just one of these points will help you:
That means anyone – friend, family, colleagues, next door neighbour, people I admire.
It is the fear of being judged that keeps you playing small. If people judge you, let them. Repeat – Let them. I don’t know who said it, but there is a famous quote “What other people think of you is none of your business”. Remember, happy people will not criticise you, the only person criticising is someone with their own issues and insecurities (I’m not just saying that to make you feel better).
Here’s what I do, when someone is actually being judgmental or being mean or criticising (it’s not just in my head and/or I have reflected and am confident this is their issue and not mine)- I imagine a bubble around me. Their words and behaviours bounce off that bubble and back into their space. It is not allowed in my space.
All the way down to my childhood (that’s the scary stuff for me). If I have an expectation that others will judge me, then I must be judging myself. That is giving myself the message I am not worthy, I am not good enough and therefore I end up playing small.
You did not choose your whole story, but it’s yours and it’s your responsibility not to let it hold you back and affect your self-worth any longer. Yes, I am even referring to life’s cruel experiences.
You can spot when I feel vulnerable a mile off – my go to reaction is to be cold and I can have stubborn tendencies. Recognising this was a game changer for me – it is always something I need to keep an eye on, hence it is on my showing up list.
Question what it is about the situation making you want to hide or get angry (or however it is you react when you feel vulnerable). Personally, I try to be understanding with myself, name the emotion and experience being triggered, feel it and do my best to not react immediately.
You will not always get it right, especially at the beginning when you are still learning. Sometimes, you will decide it is not the time or place to be vulnerable, that’s OK too.
Being vulnerable is not weak; it’s a shared human experience. Happy people are much more comfortable with being vulnerable. Observe your on reaction when something hits your vulnerable spots, only then will you be able to change it next time.
I’ve talked about this a lot. I have had a tendency to shy away from letting people in, so it is much easier to go for an unavailable person who cannot truly hurt me.
I know showing up for love means that you can get hurt for real, but the alternative is getting stuck in the same habits you have been in for years (that you are fed up of), settling and trying to please someone just to get some validation that you are enough.
It may mean having to walk away from a relationship, it may mean having to tell someone how you feel or it may mean you have to find your peace with being single.
I do believe in timing and I hope I will always believe in the fairy-tale love – but for me, being single really is a better way of life than settling with someone who either doesn’t really see you or fulfil you.
It is these habits that make you the person you want to be. Once your daily behaviours are healthy and make you feel great, you are in a position to reach for the bigger stuff. Mine is all kept in place with one simple step, waking up early and exercise. When I wake up early and exercise regularly, all my other daily habits fall into place.
How you treat daily habits gives a clear indication of the relationship you have with yourself. Can you trust yourself? If you say you are going to get up at 6am for a run… are you the kind of person to stick to that, or hit snooze?
For tips on how I intend to stick to these habits read my blog post ‘Changing Habits: This is How You Stick To Them And Reach Your Goal’s’
When I do fail, I will find the lesson. It is not possible to succeed or get through this life comfortably unless you accept the possibility of failure; it’s just a part of getting out of your comfort zone. If and when you do fail, dig deep and find the lesson.
I will need reminding. There will be days where my inner critic will be reminding me I am not good enough and it will take all the strength I have to have courage and do it anyway.
Remember we are going big, no more playing small. Vulnerability is only courageous.
I am the girl who wants to drink wine, eat chips and laugh the night away with my best girls. I am the girl who is absolutely rubbish at Geography. I am the girl who mostly guesses when it comes to grammar. I am the girl who says out loud when something is awkward, I am the girl who struggles to talk about my childhood, I am the girl who believes in the end, there is only ever one true love.
Trust me when I un-apologetically say, I will stay true to who I am. Some ‘imperfections’, I choose to change and work on. Some ‘imperfections’ I accept as they are (some can’t be changed anyway). Who I am today, is who I am and I will own it.
Life isn’t so serious. No one is perfect. We don’t have to have the same beliefs. We are all winging it.
We all have the right to like what we want, change our mind, have imperfections and be rubbish at Geography 😉
I will do what I need to do, accept what I can’t change, cry when I need to, hurt when I need to, and know always, anything I am feeling or going through, is part of this crazy thing we call life.
When life is cruel, it can feel like it is only happening to you, it’s never the case. Knowing you are not alone can relieve even a tiny bit of pain.
There you have it. I don’t know that they are New Year’s resolutions but certainly a new year has triggered something. I might read that in 1 month or ten years, and disagree with some of it, but for now, these are the things I choose to do in order to live life from a place of worthiness.
What works for me, will not necessarily work for you. You need to sit down and have a serious conversation with yourself. It will be really difficult to change your habits, show up and take risks, if you have little or no self-awareness or worth.
Getting to know yourself and figuring out how you want to live your life needn’t be a chore. I know you want to be happier, it’s the how that people get stuck on. Trust me, that kind of happiness is waiting just outside your comfort zone.
Until you recognise what things make you worry, what you overthink, what you hide and what limiting beliefs you have and what stories you tell yourself. Until then, you are playing small.
I work with people on a one to one level to identify their goals and overcome the anxiety/fears getting in their way. To book your FREE consultation with me, send me a message today.
If you have been hiding your greatness and talents that I know you have inside of you, then I am going to help you break down those walls and get out of your own way. That’s what this next year is for us.
I have spent the last ten years helping people facing many difficulties, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, substance misuse, sleep difficulties, anger problems, and more. I don’t mind saying, I am bloody good at it. I am good at my job, even when my own self-esteem has been on the floor.
That said, what I have noticed, clearly, is the last two years, as I have really put the work in on my own self-esteem, learned to truly love myself and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, I became even better at my job.
It is obvious, the happier and more confident I am, the more I am able to help you achieve the same.
Perhaps proving another of Brené’s points… courage is courageous.
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Carly Ann xx