After watching the Brene Brown special on Netflix recently (for the fourth time) I have been forced to think about vulnerability and courage in my own life. Two words she talks about in length. Some may think they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but after allowing yourself to move fully into either one of those, you will quickly find that it is impossible to have one without the other. Those two things are so intertwined that they cannot be separated.
Something came up recently that brought those two words to the forefront…..what if we just all did those hard things. What if we just went for it and had those hard conversations. Maybe it’s the conversation with your partner about how alone you feel. Maybe it’s with a friend that you just know isn’t good for you anymore. Maybe it’s that you need to leave a marriage you knew you should have left years ago. Maybe it’s with your boss about how miserable you are at your job. So, what would that look like?
I think most of the time we tell ourselves a lie about “not wanting to hurt” the other person. The lie that continues the perpetual pattern of not speaking your truth. But in my honest opinion, it has nothing to do with the other person. It is all about protecting ourselves. About staying “safe” in our comfort/misery/fear. We are terrified of the unknown and what having those conversations may mean or who may not “like us”. What would really happen if we spoke from our hearts. And if we are being completely honest, what we are most scared of is what may happen to US…not the other person. Which obviously doesn’t serve anyone in those situations. Let me ask you this. If your partner was feeling like they couldn’t be with you anymore, would you want them to stuff that down? To hold those feelings from you and just go through the motions, knowing deep inside the resentment continues to build? Would you want a friend that secretly feels like you are toxic for them and is silently figuring out ways to severe the friendship? As hard as those losses may be, would you really want the person to stay quiet because of fear? I know I wouldn’t.
Now, I’m not saying go tell your boss tomorrow you despise her or him and can’t stand working for them. But what if you just finally had a real conversation, from your inner being, speaking your truths. Being honest about what it really feels like to work for her or him. As I see it, there are only two outcomes anyway. Outcome one, she fires you, on the spot. You go home and are overwhelmed with fear and guilt for a few days. Then a couple of days later, you get a random phone call from a friend telling you about your dream job that just opened and…you get it. Or, outcome two, your boss, who was terrified herself of being vulnerable, thanks you for being so open and honest. In fact, she is so impressed, she is promoting you and you guys open up an amazing, commutative, relationship. You also now have your dream job.
Now, wouldn’t either of those scenarios be worth it? Wouldn’t all those fears you had made up in your mind be proven to be, of course, completely false? There’s something that Jim Carrey said while doing a commencement speech along the lines of, most people don’t know the difference between a dog that is chasing you in your mind and one that actually is in real life. This is why our minds can be so tricky and tempting to listen to. But the more you are able to just do “those things”, those things you are terrified of doing, of saying, of feeling, the more that the universe just opens up to you and brings more opportunity and joy into your life. I know this because I have seen it time and time again in my own life, when I have chosen to not let the dog that was chasing me in my mind to control me any longer.
I think this is what true vulnerability and courage is. To open ourselves up to the unknown. To do or say something without knowing what the outcome may be, but sticking to what we feel in our hearts anyway. To follow your heart unapologetically. To be willing to always go within and put a mirror to those sides of us we have tried to keep hidden for so long. And then share all of that with someone you love.
Because I have lived through it, I can tell you without a doubt that living in limbo or indecision is much more painful and heartbreaking than any outcome that may come from doing or saying those hard things. It is brave to make a decision to speak your truth. I couldn’t think of a better explanation for what courage is!
So ask yourself today, what have you been holding back? Is it time to tell your friend enough is enough? Is it time to choose you today instead of giving away everything you have to everyone else? Is it time to take the leap into the unknown of creating your dream career? Or maybe it’s just telling your husband you need more from him. Maybe it’s telling someone you are dating that you just don’t think it’s going to work. Or better yet, maybe it’s lovingly telling your sister to mind her own business:-)
Whatever it may be for you, I challenge you to get into the arena instead of just being a commentator on the sidelines. Be willing to get dirty and get the shit kicked out of you. Because the only way to feel the joy of mastery in your own life, is to be willing to step through the doors…