Vulnerability Part 2: Get Real. Be Authentic. Be Courageous.

Make contact and empathize. Trust and disclose yourself and invite others to do the same.

When you are honest with another and share what you have kept hidden or at least well disguised, it invokes what I call the unexpected turn. Every conversation presents the opportunity for two experiences. It is both common and predictable with no surprises and little revelatory information, or it takes an unexpected turn. When you are surprisingly honest with a trusted friend or colleague (or they with you) it usually leads to a more heartfelt and personally connected conversation.

Granted, many conversations are just meant to be mundane and as expected, but how would it be if you sought out opportunities for self-disclosure.

Even if you asked someone, “what are your passions, or big desires? Tell me something exciting in your life.” instead of our usual greeting of “how ya doing?” that would lead to more truthful and useful dialogue.

We often think we are not perfect. In fact, perfect does not exist. We are all unique and one of a kind with a calling or life purpose for being on this planet. Imperfections, as we call them, are just uniqueness. You are not in a baking contest, per se. You are living your life, and judgment from others is only their point of view, neither right nor wrong. What do you think about you? Who are you in essence? Can you love yourself and then change what you choose to change for you? Because you want to; not because others say you should. Once you accept that imperfections make us homemade, you can begin to embrace the meaning of real.

To be real, you have to risk not meeting other people’s expectations, and you have to be willing to meet the parts of yourself you have been trying to deny. Our flaws are merely the shadow aspect of our potential. They long to be held, cherished, nurtured, and brought into the light. Once we can honor our flaws and remain open to our potential, we can move toward our dreams.

And once you live your life that way, you inspire others to do the same.

Once you become real, you encourage others to live life more on the edge, to take chances, to not be shamed, and to exemplify a sense of wonder, curiosity, and openness rather than cynicism, fear, and loneliness.

Exercise: Who in your life (living or dead) has inspired you? Do they know they had that impact? If they are still alive, tell them!

And here are 6 steps to become comfortable with courageous vulnerability a process useful for reclaiming parts of your authentic self that you may have left hidden in the shadows. Follow this template for naked sharing slowly, using a journal, personal reflection time, and patience.

  1. Recall: Remember a belief or experience that causes you to keep it hidden.
  2. Reflect: Consider this memory. What happened? Who was there? How did it affect you?
  3. Reveal on paper: Write in a journal your memories, thoughts, feelings, actions, and emotional reactions. Just free flow. Get it out and on paper. Then read it to yourself as if you were hearing about it from your younger self.
  4. Reveal to another: Make a big step. Who can you share your story with? Who can you trust will listen to you with suspended judgment and full acceptance?
  5. Reboot: After you have shared with a trusted other, imagine you are rebooting your memory, just like a computer memory. Let it be defragmented and safely put away.
  6. Restart: Get back on your journey to your future, starting now. You have now achieved a clean restart pertaining to this memory or story.

Now you have found ways to begin to reveal your truths, first to your self and then to another. Who can you trust this week to allow your vulnerability? To allow you to be real and ‘naked”? Test the waters slowly if you’re not sure, or find a professional to start. Then “train” a true friend or two to love you warts and all.

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