Why Bother Being Vulnerable?

Why Bother Being Vulnerable?

Being emotionally vulnerable is a good way to get hurt. It is also a good way to nurture and mature in the relationships that are important to us. Depending upon our personal history, previous experiences, or personality, laying ourselves open to others may be too big of a risk. We may have tried being vulnerable once before, but it resulted in rejection.  And who wants to set themselves up for another wounding?  Then there are those personalities that lend themselves to remaining emotionally out of reach to others. Some people prefer to insulate themselves behind cool walls of stone or to ignore any bids for emotional connections. Yet, daily, we have a choice to practice unmasking ourselves around others. When we do, we might find ourselves a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world. 

 Courage

I once heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I believe courage is a main component to becoming an emotionally accessible and unguarded individual. None of us are exempt from injustices, broken promises, or wrecked relationships.  Anyone of us could tell stories about how we have been  wounded by another.  Yet, to guard ourselves from ever being misunderstood, misrepresented or even misguided again, is to also close ourselves off from what is possible. If we guard and shield ourselves from ever being wounded again, we also close ourselves off from the possibility of having good relationships, deeper connections or maturing emotionally. 

Recently, I have been shopping for a new primary care provider. My long term physician retired long ago and finding someone of the same easy going caliber has been an arduous journey.  When I stumbled upon a new medical service in town, I filled out some rather personal forms required for new patients. The questions that I was required to answer dug rather deeply into not only my medical history, but also into my mental and emotional past. I caught myself wanting to fudge on my answers, tell a little lie, or to not mention what felt unmentionable. It took a lot of determination to answer as honestly as possible. My first first appointment involved a face to face, in person, hour long conversation with the physician about how I answered the questions on the forms. The person I sat across from was emotionally accessible, friendly, courteous, and professional. In essence, they invited me to set everything on the table. I confessed some of the things I had omitted, amplified on others, and disclosed more to this person than I had previously thought I would. Yet, I knew that only when I spoke honestly, would they get an accurate picture of my wellness and my weaknesses. Holding back would have only resulted in misrepresenting myself. 

Why bother being vulnerable? It is worth communicating to others our honest to goodness selves. When we do, then we won’t misrepresent ourselves and we will feel a little less anxious, a little more happy and a bit more at ease in the world. 

Why Bother Thinking About Courage?

Why Bother Thinking About Courage?

Recently, I met a new group of women for coffee. Like me, they are all interested in hiking and taking backpacking excursions. Cass, the one woman I did know, had organized the meeting so that we could become acquainted with each other and plan some hikes.  

Something You Think Others Should Know About You

Getting our coffee and sitting down, Cass stared out, “I thought we’d all go around the table and just share with each other a little bit about our backpacking experience and something important about ourselves, something you think others should know about you.” 

It is always scary for me to be in a group of new people and I wasn’t feeling especially courageous around this group of women. I’m not at all opposed to making new friends, but I find more ease in sharing my heart when I am one-on-one with someone rather than in a group.  

I wasn’t sure how my backpacking experiences, little to none, would measure up with theirs. But, I sipped my coffee and listened as each woman shared their hiking and backpacking experiences. 

My friend Cass began by telling about the Idaho Centennial Trail she’s hiked in chunks over the last two years and how she’s learned to read topographic maps. Then Sarah from California, recounted her treks through the Sierra Nevada Range. Another woman who grew up in Peru, recalled with fondness the hikes she’d taken with her father. Jamie, a young mother, grew up experiencing the Sawtooth Mountains with her mother. Then Mona told of some of the trails she’s hiked including one named after her grandfather. Then it was my turn.

Though my experience with hiking and backpacking paled in comparison to theirs, I still envisioned walking trails, sleeping under the stars and seeing nothing but wilderness for a few days with these women. If I planned to share adventures with them, what did I think they needed to know about me?

“I’ve been married for forty years and I’m still in love. Cussing comes as natural to me as burping and I think and move in a concrete and linear fashion, from point A to B without meandering. I love hiking, but I have little to no backpacking experience.” The women nodded and smiled. I think that meant I was accepted. 

Meeting strangers takes some self-assurance, speaking one’s mind to them takes courage. Although we may relate courage to heroism, I’ve also discovered an older meaning for the word courage; to speak one’s mind while telling all one’s heart. Sharing our hearts in everyday ways is a stout hearted act of courage. 

Though I may not become a hero to any of these women while we hike, stepping between them and a bear or helping them cross rivers, I will continue to be who I am around them without fear. I will keep speaking my mind and telling of my heart. 

Why bother to think about courage? It is worth knowing the truth about yourself so you can speak your mind while telling others about your heart. The more you practice courage, the more courageous you become.