What stops me from being vulnerable?
Lots of things stop me from being open enough to somebody that I am vulnerable to. I am a very open person, quite an extrovert but when it comes to sharing my sorrows or my deepest regrets in life – I really choose people. That way my inner circle of people that I really am myself is quite limited. Not everybody in my inner circle will know all about my life. If there is something hurting me about one of my friends, I would probably open up about it to one of the common friends (in my inner circle) instead of my husband or my sisters. So, of course, situations are different and so are people who I can trust at a particular point of my life.
There are times when I stop myself from sharing even if I am getting bitten inside. And mostly the reasons are –
- Fear of judgment – Even though people in my inner circle mean my good, they can tend to judge me or my situation differently. Sometimes all I want is for somebody to listen. Sometimes the feeling of guilt, regret is so strong that I feel like talking to a stranger – pour my heart out because even if that person judges me, it won’t impact me because s/he is a stranger.
- Getting advise – This is usually from older people who really care for me. Whatever situation I am in, they would want to advise me about it. The reason that I share might not be to get a solution, mostly I just want a listening ear who acknowledges what I am feeling is not wrong. And if I would need a solution, I would ask for it.
- Invalidating my feelings – Invariably there are quite a few people who would respond by saying “Oh, you shouldn’t be feeling upset about this.” This is not right. Nobody’s experience can be wrong. If I feel upset, I feel upset. There is nothing right or wrong about it. It is just a feeling that I am acknowledging and wanting closure for.
- Getting worried about me – This is one of the reasons that parents are usually the last people to know about their own kids vulnerabilities. Parents are always the worried lot, the moment you get a baby in your uterus or your partner’s uterus, the journey of being worried takes off. Parents need to accept that their child is going to be a human being with his/her own set of failures and if you get too worried about him/her. S/he would end up closing down on you.
I have faced each of the situations above. I would have loved to share those but that would bring out my vulnerabilities on the open platform.
Though I would like to share a situation from a book that I recently read – “Maybe You should talk to someone”. It is a story of a therapist who is herself going through a difficult situation in her life. And while she tries to find answers to life through her own therapy and the therapy of her clients, the stories unfold beautifully. Each story with its own lesson about life.
One of this therapist’s client (Julie) is a terminally ill cancer patient and she is trying to come to terms with her limited time left on this planet (which is hardly a few months). Julie’s organs are failing her and she is constantly in pain. She says that she hates it when people know about her cancer and make a comment that’s artificial – Be strong, don’t lose hope, we are there with you, don’t be scared etc.
What she was going through cannot be understood by anybody else who is blessed with good health. She told her therapist that she just wants people to be honest about their feelings. To say something cliché like this only makes it look more and more artificial. When somebody genuinely looks into her eyes with fear and loss, she knows that they are true. When somebody just hugs her tight without saying a word, she knows that they are really going to miss her. When somebody just whispers – “Oh Julie, I don’t want to say”, she knows that they really don’t have words to say to her.
This is true for all of our lives too. When somebody is vulnerable to you, just be genuine. If you do not what would be the right thing to say – just accept how you feel and tell them you do not know how to react. Don’t makeup things because you want to sound right. When a person shares something deep with you, s/he is quite sensitive to your reaction. If you make up things, the person would know for sure.
Be genuine. Be honest. And be nice.