The Dance of Vulnerability & Protection Part 2

So, last week I said we’d come back here to part “two” of this discussion on “vulnerability & protection.”  The questions that kept coming through on my recent survey, which prompted this post, were forms of this:

“How can I be brave enough to start being more vulnerable with (my date/partner/spouse/parent/friend/colleague) and still keep enough protection up so that I don’t get hurt?”

Last week I asked, “How do you do both? Can you be vulnerable and protected? Is it possible?”  I offered the starting place, which centers around creating “safety” and making sure you are offering this to another, along with knowing how to set clear boundaries. This week, I’m diving into the “protection” part deeper.

I believe it’s important to answer the question, “Why?” 

Why let down walls of protection and risk being vulnerable, when we automatically spend so much of our time trying desperately to keep from being hurt?

Because right there, as I just stated, you know that so much of this protection comes from an “automatic” knee-jerk reaction to old pain. And I’m all for addressing habits and patterns that in the end, keep us small, protected and handing our power away to others. That’s exactly what’s happening when we aren’t fully ourselves, willing to speak up, show up and be seen and heard. When we change what we do or say to get another’s approval, “dance” around issues to keep the peace or hold back feelings and opinions, we’re making a clear choice to not be exposed. Which means not being vulnerable.

Which means not have the amazing experience of being seen and known as the REAL you.

Ready to begin letting those walls of protection down so you can live your life, your way? Start here:

1. Make a commitment to stretch yourself and grow!

It’s always amazing to me how quickly we can shift old mindsets, beliefs and patterns when we first make a clear declaration to ourselves that we’re going to.  It may sound silly, but it works. It kind of puts our inner self “on notice” and helps us see in the moment, when we start to play small or protect ourselves.  Speak it, write it down, share it with others – “I’m growing in this area now and will start trusting myself to fully show up in life!” Then take the next step shown.

2. Stop trying to hide behind perfection.

My God, none of us is perfect! Far from it. This was a hard one for me to let go of myself.  Make a choice to let yourself off the hook now, and decide that being fully YOU, is more rewarding than keeping up a good front.   Being vulnerable and sharing your weaknesses, genuine feelings and offering glimpses into who you really are, warts and all, is freeing. And very, very attractive.

3. Remember true intimacy comes from being seen.

You want real love in your life? Meaningful connection? Then you’ve got to allow yourself to become vulnerable.  Here’s how it works – if you never put your heart on the line, you never truly let yourself love fully or be loved. That is a FAR greater loss than rejection. Hold onto that.

4. Embrace vulnerability as power. Because it is.

If you can remember even one time you’ve risked being vulnerable with another person or in a group, then you know the level of confidence and courage it took for you to do so. It is a strong power stance to be able to say “To hell with it!” and decide you are going to be your authentic, real self no matter what.  Lean into that.  Feel the strength under the vulnerability. And feel your sense of self-esteem and worthiness soar each time you do!

“The vulnerability paradox:  It’s the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I want you to see in me.” 
Brene Brown

As with any other area in which you’ve made a personal “pinky swear” to grow, letting these old walls down and stepping fully into your authentic self takes practice. It’s like exercising a muscle that is weak.  You are not weak. 

You have so much more inner resilience than you’ve given yourself credit for and there’s a big world out there to share yourself with! Be brave, put your arms around your own self and show us who you are!