27 Feb On Courage and Vulnerability
We humans have this ingrained desire and need to connect with others. Brené Brown said, “In order to allow for connection, we have to be seen, really seen.”
Recently, I’ve opened up to someone dear to me about my vulnerabilities hoping it will foster more understanding and connection. I shared a story of my childhood experience to explain my trauma and anxious behavior, which I know might cause some tension in our relationship. This has been the focus of my practice lately, I’ve been working on my inner child wounds and triggers. But instead of being understood and connected, I was rejected.
The exact same wound that I was trying to heal was slashed open and it really caught me off guard. All these feelings of shame and fear resurfaced and came flooding in. It became impossible to hold on to any perspective or to recall anything good about myself. I went right into the bad self-talk and belief that maybe I wasn’t good enough, maybe there was something wrong with me that made it impossible to continue this connection. I was knocked off my center by this painful experience that I did the very worst thing possible: I asked for validation.
I wanted to know I wasn’t still that little girl who wasn’t good enough for her mother. I needed to know I was wanted and accepted for me, just as I am.
In hindsight, I didn’t need the validation of my worthiness. I have TO OWN my story and share it with someone who HAS EARNED the right to hear it, someone whom I can count on to respond with compassion.
Here’s a new lesson I learned about compassion and connecting: We can’t call just anyone. Apparently, it’s not that simple. It’s hard to ask for compassion when they are also struggling with their own authenticity or when their own worthiness is off balance. My dear friend, Ms. Yvette Manotoc, also told me it might have also triggered his own wounds.
One of my favorite authors, Pema Chödrön, writes in her book The Places That Scare You, “When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us.”
Brené Brown adds that she doesn’t believe that compassion is our default response. She thinks that our first response to pain–ours or someone else’s–is to self-protect. We protect ourselves by looking for someone or something to blame. Or sometimes we shield ourselves by turning to judgment or by immediately going into fix-it mode.
I am sad that this person decided to leave. Nayyirah Waheed said in her poem, Unable, “if you show someone the sun in your bones and they reject you you must remember. they hurt themselves this very same way.” I understand him and wish him well.
But I am grateful to know how much I have grown in my practice. I am very proud of myself and know that I am definitely worthy. For one, I have the capacity to hold space for someone even though I myself needed to be held in that same space. I learned that I have qualities that I think are so normal and common to everyone but are actually quite unique and special. Qualities that I share so freely but are actually very hard for most to give.
Vulnerability is not a weakness. In fact, it is the most accurate way to measure courage as it means we are willing to show up and be seen when we can’t even control the outcome.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy–the experiences that make us most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light ✨