“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
For whatever reason, I have been on a journey of “self- improvement” from a very young age. I recall being one of those kids who spent time reading articles and books about how to increase one’s productivity and better manage one’s time. As I look back, the underlying thought was: There is so much to do and so little time. So I better make sure I am not “wasting time” doing things “incorrectly.”
While this “disciplined” approach to life enabled me to perform well in structured environments where success and failure are clearly defined and often tied to one’s output, the suit of armor these skills provided were not the panacea I had hoped they might be. For despite my best efforts to prepare myself for what might lie ahead, I’ve learned there are some areas of life where productivity, perfection, and output are not the key determinants of “success.” More importantly, within these areas of life, the things that do determine “success” are not those that can really be easily or consciously controlled and directed.
The most obvious example that comes to mind is within the realm of relationships. Within this context, doing as much as you can as fast as you can, no matter how well you may perform a given task, is often not what makes a person feel loved, connected, seen, valued, or heard – i.e. “successful.” Within this context, “success” – which I will presently define as the act of really connecting heart to heart – requires time be spent learning about one another as you both explore the messiness that is human life.
The giant ask, of course, in this “getting to know you” phase, is that you relinquish all attempts to control and/or direct anything that is happening and instead show up as you are and work with what is present doing the best as you can with the knowledge and tools available. By doing just that – i.e. showing up as the perfectly imperfect being that you are and authentically sharing your gifts and limitations with another – all will be well.
As a recovering perfectionist, this is something that I am uncomfortable with and have struggled with for a long time. For me, the thought has always been, “If only I can figure things out ahead of time, and plan accordingly, all will be well.” And well…. as we all know, there are very few things that we can predict, let alone control. So instead of “armoring up” in the words of Brene Brown, we must attempt to connect heart to heart by wading into the discomfort that is the human experience. For without this courageous step into the messiness of vulnerability, and life, the changes that we seek may never come.
With that in mind, I wanted to offer the following questions as contemplation points for the week:
- How do you show up in your different relationships? To what extent are you able to show strength by genuinely attempting to connect heart to heart?
- How do others show up in your relationships? To what extent do you create space for another to wade through the potential discomfort required to share his/her truth courageously?
- In this moment, what is one thing you can do for you so that you can more fully connect with your own heart authentically?
For me, my practice continues to be the place where I work to offer my heart back to myself in a loving and generous manner. Imagining your practice might serve a similar purpose, I have a few public offerings available. Please reach out if you’d like to join.