Man, how we still judge vulnerability.
I was talking to a dear client just this morning who was in emotional pain about a relationship. She was feeling a lot of sadness, anger, and frustration, and the tears were flowing (they just needed to be expressed).
But one of the main things she was upset at herself about – shaming herself about – was that she had been vulnerable with this man, sharing her feelings authentically, opening her heart very courageously, and then when he didn’t return with a commitment to a relationship, she felt like she had “lost all her power.”
“I wish I’d been stronger,” she said. “I didn’t come across very powerfully… I felt like I looked weak and felt exposed.”
Isn’t it funny how we evaluate vulnerability as weakness, or as undesirable?
Here’s the thing. In my book, this WAS power.
To choose to be authentic… To choose to open your heart… To choose to let someone see all of you… THAT is choosing power versus trying to play a game to come off some other way.
Loving herself enough to know that she wants to be absolutely 100% who she is without acting like a “chameleon” when seeking a love partner – if somebody doesn’t like the real her, they’re not her match.
I spent much of my own life being a chameleon. Trying to “be” what I thought would be likable. Someone others would approve of. So I would also stuff my real feelings, my vulnerability, anything that I felt would not look strong and impressive.
And as I look at the past year of my life in particular, and how far I’ve come, I see time and time again how I’ve learned to choose the “messy” me. To show tears, confusion, even rage sometimes just as well as joy, silliness, and passion.
What I continue to realize is that “personal power” is what you define it. I believe that I have more power now, now that I accept myself, respect myself, support myself, and source my worth from the inside than I ever have before.
Warts and all.
So never, ever think you’ve given your power away when you’ve chosen to be vulnerable. Even in the face of the other person’s reaction (or not responding in the way you had hoped), ask yourself:
Who do I want to be? How do I want to show up?
For me, I continue to choose authenticity and vulnerability as much as I can. I remind myself that I wouldn’t want to be any other way, regardless of anyone’s reaction. And, I make sure to acknowledge myself internally for taking such a risk (because after all, it still can be scary) and I remind myself that to me, that IS personal power.
Who do you want to be?