Let it Ride (Finding Vulnerability)


Photo Of Man Riding Bicycle
Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable, it means show up and be seen, to ask for what you need, to talk about how you;re feeling, to have the hard conversations.
~Brene Brown

People let themselves be swept away by fear. I am not talking about being afraid of heights, snakes, dogs, or any other events based in reality. I am talking about fear of vulnerability. Vulnerability is exposing yourself emotionally to someone else. As children, it is easy. We automatically have the vulnerability with our parents. We trust that they will protect us. We trust that our parents have our best interest in mind as they raise us. Along the way, however, not everything is perfect. Parents start having expectations of us. Some parents demand perfection, or give too much criticism. Other parents have no back bone, want to befriend their children and are too lenient. If our parents are no longer predictable and safe, and so we are no longer vulnerable to them.

We grow up and our vulnerability turns to a best friend, possibly a sibling, and ultimately a lover. We somehow lose our vulnerability in high school, gain in back a little bit when we fall in love, and then lose it again. You can’t have a loving relationship without the vulnerability. It’s intimacy. An understanding of your deepest desires and dreams. You don’t share that with just anyone, and sometimes, you share it with no one.

As a child I was exposed to a lot of trauma. Some memories I chose to suppress and some I can remember clear as day. These days, the memories I choose to remember are more of the pleasant memories. I only have involuntary flashbacks of the bad ones. I know that every time I am in an intense or stressful moment, the world slows down. I was in a car that drove off of a bluff when I was a teenager. Time slowed to a crawl, as I flipped through trees: I was telling myself, “this is a roller coaster”. Just last month, a high speed chase occurred right in front of me. Police cars chasing another car coming up the road toward me. The car hit the curb and careened through the air gliding sideways. It stopped just short of my car. I went numb as the people around me scattered. As the cops arrived, I politely rolled down my window, pointing out one of the escaping suspects to an officer as I drove away. I arrived at a store where I know the employees. They Asked me If I had seen what had just happened (the crash had happened on the street in front of their windows). I guess I did, it happened literally in front of me, but my response was more like I was reading an IKEA instruction booklet. I am not vulnerable to fear.

Sometimes, I question if my brain is able to process certain fear. There were times that I felt afraid of what people thought so much that I would stay up all night ruminating. How many people out there, waste so much time thinking of the same thing over and over again? Sleepless nights, not being able to think clearly, focus on work, school a gathering or even a conversation? That is fear, being afraid to just let it go. Afraid of saying or doing something wrong. Everyone can relate to this. This is the biggest reason I started to practice mindfulness. I don’t want to waste any more time thinking of something that I cannot control.

There we go, another fear. The fear of not being in control. This again is an irrational fear. The only things in life that we have control over is ourselves. We can control our reaction to things, our beliefs about things. You can control not giving into the emotion and keeping a logical mind about yourself. I won’t have certain conversations with people because they aren’t able to control their emotions about subjects they are passionate about. You can’t control other people either. It is sometimes hard to have friends and family who have different values and beliefs that you do. I enjoy it because it allows me to learn about different perspectives from my own to see if I need to adjust my beliefs or to be able to state my case so that someone can understand me. It hasn’t really worked in my marriage. I can take my husbands perception into account, but without him trying to understand where I am coming from, more problems accumulate.

Currently, I had an offer to get a trial radio show for 12 weeks. I will host a question and answer segment on Business National Radio for mental health. People will call in and ask questions, I will have to answer them to the best of my ability. I won’t know who it is or what the questions are. I am nervous, excited, and maybe a little scared. I grew up listening to Dr. Laura Schlessinger on the radio. I always wanted to be like her. I will finally have my 6 hours of fame guaranteed. During my live interview, I was sweating like a pig, and said a couple off the wall comments that were be texted to me by my family and friends with the big old LOL!

My friends and I were doing our normal round table talk on the weekend and careers came up. One of my friends has worked the same job since she graduated college. My other friend has been evolving in marketing since she started her career after college and has taken different positions to make more money and gain experience. She mentioned that she sometimes thinks about trying something else, but would be afraid to. She said that she wishes someone told her while she was growing up she could do anything. It is always nice to have people believe in us, but it is more important to believe in yourself. Not everyone is going to make a million dollars a year, in fact very few people do. You have to accept where you are in the moment before you can move forward. You then have to be able to accept the positive or negative consequences if you do fail.

Here are some tips to help you calm down your fears. Ask yourself; “what is the worst thing that could happen if you choose to do something?” If you took a job doing something else, what is the worst thing that could happen? If you decided it was time to start the company you always wanted, what is the worst that could happen? There are good and bad consequences for every decision that we make. For extra clarity, run your ideas by someone. If you feel that you are getting biased feedback from friends or family, try a Life Coach or a therapist. If someone is constantly giving me lip service, I move on to someone else. If you have a business associate or networking partner, it would be a good time to have a meeting. Sometimes we are afraid to try new things, but sometimes, the consequence of trying something new may be more rewarding than we could have imagined.

Making a move could mean a temporary loss of income and even a loss in support from your colleagues. You have to ask yourself when making a decision, “is the end game worth it”. I am not fond of gambling with money, but I have gambled with different business opportunities. As long as you are not holding yourself back because you are afraid of something, it is okay to stay where you are at. You have the time and flexibility to put yourself into something else besides your career.

Another important avenue of life that make people struggle with fear is relationships. I believe that many people never attempt intimacy because they are afraid to get hurt. Even the happiest of couples with great longevity would agree that you get hurt no matter what. No one can live up to our expectations 100% of the time. When you go out on a date, you literally have a 50/50 shot at really liking the person or not. Those are pretty good odds. The odds are 0 to none if you don’t go out at all.

It is important to work through your fears. It is important to take little steps to conquer your fears. Grow stronger, gain momentum and keep doing things despite your fears. Many people grow up having been abused in some way by an adult when they were a child. It could be sexually, verbally (emotionally) or physically. People in our inner circle, helping to raise us can be too judgmental, cross too many boundaries, or were aloof to understanding a child’s emotions. Those scars can cause a deep sense of fear in trusting people, or having the hope to have healthy relationships. Often people choose to have nothing over the prospect to experience any more pain. It is tough for me to sit with someone in so much pain. It takes a long time for them to trust me, and then to trust the process of healing. It takes time. Even the most fearful people have a shot of living without fear. It is a long process, and the most amazing transformation to watch. People are so strong, and it takes many small steps to overcome the biggest fears.

There is the fear of being lonely. What if this person walks out of my life, and I never find anyone again. Well I say, what if you stay in this relationship and never have that “one great true love”? I am surprised by people who have never felt that they were breathing someone in and when they lost them, it took your breath away. Your heart ached when you weren’t in their presence. Your energy soared when you were able to be in their arms. I fear the opposite, there is no greater feeling.

I am not telling you to jump out there and quit your job so that you can start something new with no plan on how to pay your bills, or take care of your responsibilities. I am telling you to gather your supports, discuss what it is you are afraid of and challenge it. Push back your fears, breathe, and be brave. Tell your spouse that you miss their gentle touch and long to be close because you haven’t been intimate in five years. Tell someone you love them first, even if it costs you the relationship. Stop wondering and wavering and start living.