A client came to me stating she notices a pattern in her relationships where she would be very giving to start to resent later that she is the one doing the giving. Others either started to take her for granted or be angry with her or she pulled back form the relationship. In exploring this in sessions we came up with looking at her vulnerability and what could she share of vulnerability instead of her usual habit to protect and withdraw.
A young man came to me to ask for help with his girlfriend. She would spend hours he said getting ready to go out. She was insecure in how she looked and would end up trying on lots of clothes and make up styles to cover up what she thought were her flaws. He said, “She is so beautiful and cannot see it.” If I had worked with her we would have explored ways to be simple in make up and dress and been more her true self in group situations.
A personal mentor, Faith Nyquist asked me a question when I embarked on beauty training “ When is a woman most beautiful?” “I do not know,” I answered, “ When she is totally herself, “ she replied. Carl Rodgers the famous psychologist said at the end of his years of working with clients was that “ What is most personal is most universal “ In other works what you think is your personal shortcoming, when shared, you realize that others have a similar fears and concerns. Rene Brown in a Ted talk the power of Vulnerability, says “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” I highly recommend that one watches this Ted presentation.
I admire Nigella Lawson, her voluptuous and beautiful appearance. During her public and messy divorce, I saw even more beauty in a face that showed pain and stress. She seemed to me, to be more touchable and lovable.
Why does vulnerability seem scary and awkward?
Why is it easier to protect with a wall around us.?
Sharing our deeper truer selves can be risky. The world can be hard and cruel. Sharing deeper aspect of self seems risky and there are few role models in families or society.
Here are some tips that may help:
1. Choose who you share with
Vulnerability is tender and deserves care. Practice with someone who will not judge, or interrupt your process. This person can be a close friend, family member, a coach or counselor, who will receive your openness without judgment.
2. Ask for what you need
Create a context for sharing authentic conversation by asking if the other person is willing to listen. You can also request that they do not offer any advice unless you ask for it. The purpose of vulnerability is not about problem solving. It is about exposing and releasing.
3. State your feelings
if you feel nervous or ashamed, I suggest commence conversation by stating, “I feel ashamed,” or, “I am nervous sharing this.” Remember the key ingredients are authenticity and intimacy. Let yourself be seen!
4. Watch Judgments.
Be aware of judging or analyzing feelings. Allow anger, sadness or tears be there without censoring or editing how they are expressed.
5. Love you
Find that nervous person inside. Bring them out where you can see them. Love their heart, shyness, warmth, their passion, and tenderness. Let them know it is OK to speak up and be heard. No one is going to judge them. And if someone does judge or ridicule, it is a trait of their character and not yours. Tell yourself you are loved for being exactly who you are. The more you open up, the more attractive and people around will be more relaxed and real. You give others permission to be themselves in you courageous steps of vulnerability
Mary Berkery 2015