Reading “Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene’ Brown I had a veil pulled back. A glimpse of who I show up as. Brene’ was writing about who to and who not to share shame stories with. We do have to speak shame out loud to loosen its grip on us. She lists six people/responses to avoid. #4 Pulled down the veil. “The friend who is so uncomfortable with vulnerability that she scolds you: ‘How could you let this happen?’ What were you thinking?’ Or she looks for someone to blame: ‘Who was that guy? We’ll kick his ass.‘ I don’t scold. I am quick to get on my self-righteous horse and demand action be taken. Confront those who are causing problems. Straighten people out. Deal with an issue head on.
I recognized a sliver of myself in what Brene’ wrote. My inner voice slipped a thin blade into my soul “Are you uncomfortable with vulnerability?”
The question rings.
My mind went searching for evidence. Over several days here’s what showed up: I have the capacity to get it right. I can listen openly, without judgement, and embrace people for their strengths and struggles. I can be present to their vulnerability without triggering defense or fix it. I do this with clients. I do this facilitating group discussions.
I fall down, i.e. hop on my let’s-kick-butt-horse, with those closest to me. I have acted and spoken out to protect, defend, and justify on their behalf. Out of notions to try and ensure success or happiness or self worth. While I have not thought of this as discomfort with their vulnerability or my own I can feel a thread of truth. Following the thread deeper it connects to my worthiness or lack thereof. If those I love most don’t thrive it’s because I have not provided a good example or been who they needed me to be…… I will tell you the truth. That sentence has brought me to head in my hands sobbing. I hurts. I am ashamed. The kick butt hides the vulnerability of being seen as failing as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend.
I’ve done the most human thing resisting and hiding from vulnerability with my loves. The people I need most to be accepted by. I understand, know full well, the shortcomings of the kick butt horse. That ride doesn’t allow others to stand in their stuff. To feel their hurts, disappointments, and losses. To come up with their own solutions. To grow. It sends the subtle damaging “You can’t handle this.” message. All of which goes against who I believe myself to be. It rubs contrary to my belief in the human spirit.
So what do I glean? What are my learnings?
First, the unworthiness statement is limiting and disempowering. I can feel it and acknowledge it, but, it does not serve me to live there. I choose to let those thoughts go. Thank them for their past protection and release them. The cool part of unveiling is the natural awareness you can have going forward. When the kick butt horse shows up, and I notice it, I’ll have the opportunity act differently. I can step back and ask “What are you riled up about Christine?” I can look for the vulnerability trigger. I can rein in the horse, keep my mouth shut, and simply listen. I can be a version of my best self.
It is never pretty coming to grips with our faults and shortcomings. No fun professing we are not flawless beings. Yet the act, however scary, of admitting our imperfections allows us to live freer more meaningful lives. By looking at, speaking to, sharing about our tainted parts we bridge the gap to worthiness and lovability.
For Your Best Possible Self Coach Christine Clark