Mum, how do you get girls? my 10 year old son Alex asked me. Alex has a crush on Emma who goes to his school. Being put on the spot, I wasn’t sure how to respond to his question. I said Alex, you don’t ‘get’ a girl. The first step is to be friends with Emma. As it turns out, Alex had already written Emma a letter telling her how he felt about her. My heart melted when I read his letter and I thought of two things 1) acknowledging Alex’s courage in being vulnerable enough to share his feelings with Emma 2) remembering being the same age as Alex and receiving a silver bracelet in a Xmas card from my classmate Robert Bates (I didn’t have a crush on him, but receiving the bracelet was a thrill, all the same).
Being vulnerable isn’t easy
Being vulnerable is hard. Your feelings are on the line. You can get hurt. You can get rejected. And you can also open up possibility. Therein lies the problem: you don’t know how things will pan out until you take the bet.
As humans, we crave security and certainty because we feel safe. If you can more or less predict what’s on the other side of a decision, there’s less chance of being unexpectedly hurt. ¹
Vulnerability puts you on a collision course with a leap of faith. When you embrace vulnerability, you put courage over comfort and you hope for the best.
As Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Vulnerability is a strength
Being self-certain means coming from a place of truth. Your truth. Sharing your real thoughts and feelings when you perceive others might judge them, isn’t easy. Having the courage to say you don’t know the answer – even when others expect you to – isn’t easy. Going against the conversation flow isn’t easy. And sometimes, being true to yourself and living to your principles and values in an environment that doesn’t support them, isn’t easy.
There is rarely one truth
We’re meaning creating machines. We’re not designed to have a thought and not react in some way. We’re always ‘making sense’ of what we experience; that’s normal. Trouble is, our meanings are often ‘our truth’ based on what we’ve made things mean as opposed to what actually happened. We’re wired for safety which is why we like being in our comfort zone versus being vulnerable and giving something a go.
What conversations or opportunities are you putting off? Putting things off won’t make your fear go away.
Action starts with a decision.
What do you want in 2021? How can vulnerability help get you there?
Here’s how to get into action:
1. Take accountability
Rather than buying into an excuse to hold off doing something, decide to take personal accountability instead. In other words, don’t let yourself off the hook. Seek the help of others who can support you and hold you accountable; it can make a big difference to what you decide to do.
Alex sought the help of his mate Lachie (his wingman, according to Alex) and together they came up with a plan to give the letter to Emma on the first day of school.
2. Overcome overwhelm
Overwhelm happens when our thinking is dis-ordered; when everything seems too much to deal with. When we structure our thinking into segments, parts, stages or steps, suddenly things are clearer and we can take the first step.
Mum, after I give her the letter, do I then give her a chocolate? Alex asked me. I suggested to Alex that he take one step at a time. That is, wait to see how Emma responds. I reminded Alex that if Emma didn’t respond to his letter, that in and of itself, it didn’t mean anything.
3. Empower yourself
Get into action. Set up your day, as much as you can, to do the important things first, even if you don’t want to do them. Do something that moves you forward, even if you’re not sure it’s the right thing or you’re out of your comfort zone. Once you’ve taken the first step, then focus on the next and so on. Progress is made one step at a time. You don’t need the full plan to take the first step.
Bringing it all together
We put things off because of fear, for example, fear of not getting it right, being rejected or whatever the fear is. The choice to be vulnerable requires you to put yourself ‘out there’ in ways you don’t feel uncomfortable.
Taking responsibility is your choice; a choice which gets you into action and not letting yourself get in your own way. How can vulnerability lead to your success this year? I’d love to know.