I’m coming to you today with Dana Suchow, activist behind Do the Hotpants, to talk about being vulnerable! We discuss how your brand evolves with you, fear behind vulnerability and growth, and allowing space for others.
When shitty things happen to you, and they will through the course of your life, you have two clear routes to take. As discussed in the previous post, you can turn to whiney victimhood, or to raw vulnerability that helps you move on in an organic way.
But before you get to this fork in the road, there is a long stretch of grieving. Some of us know how to grieve, in fact, we’re seasoned professionals. Some of us others, however, would rather push the grief down or aside until it takes the wheel as an act of rebellion, and we’re forced down the road of panicky, inconsistent victimhood.
So for all of the events, people, pets, homes, jobs, or traumas you never got to grieve, I have an exercise in purging some of the anger that leads us down the back alley of victimhood.
We’re going to write down everything we wish we could have said “no” to.
I suggest Post-it notes or index cards. You want to write each specific event on a card of it’s own. We aren’t making a list, we’re giving individual space to each shitty life event.
There is no need to journal on this either. Give your event a title, and as you write it down, imagine what it would look like if you could have said “no” to this particular event.
Then, for each card, I want you to burn it (safely!) over an open flame. As you do, say the following:
“I cannot change the past, but I can re-route my future. I accept the reality of the present, and release my anger towards ___________”
This should help to begin a revolutionary healing process. Acceptance is the final stage of grief in the Kübler- Ross Grief Cycle. But we must move through the other six stages in order to get there.
What I find people hang on to the most in grief is guilt and anger. This ritual should alleviate some of those feelings so you can continue your journey inward, and then onward. Stay strong, and, as always, stay witchy ( *)
It is a very important distinction to make between an act that serves us versus an act that alienates us. One that I’d like to point out today is the difference between being vulnerable and being a victim.
If you’re feeling beaten down, as with the Ten of Swords, there is a clear cut choice to make here. You can sit with outward blame and project the betrayal on others, a lá victimhood, or you can choose to be vulnerable, take responsibility, and heal.
Well what does all of that mean?
Vulnerability takes Strength. No only does it takes courage to feel your emotions authentically, but to let someone in that you trust can be outright scary! But this is the exact reason why talk therapy, 12 step programs, and life coaching alike work; they all require a degree of vulnerability and sharing to release some of the inside pressure in order to move on. Being vulnerable means taking responsibility for your emotions and dealing with them in a constructive manner. Being vulnerable means loving yourself enough to let your feelings out before they bubble up to the surface.
On the flip-side, being a victim requires no bravery whatsoever. In fact, victimhood kind of embodies this melting figure into a bubbling pool of liquid for me. When you’re a “victim,” you’re accepting no personal responsibility for your feelings.
This is not to say that all victims have control over the reason for their grief or trauma. Not by a long shot. But EVERYONE has the power to heal. When something terrible happens to you, like an attack or a death or a fire, that is not your fault, and I am not insinuating that it is. However, your response to those occurrences are all under your control. You can grieve, pick yourself up from your boot straps, and move on through your life, or you can sit there and say woe is me and never get anything done.
And to be extremely frank, being around a victim is SO BORING. Sitting next to someone who can’t stop complaining about how awful their life is and how things keep happening TO them is such a yawn. It is a huge turnoff.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret…
You have complete control over your life. Facing a stream of setbacks with grace and vulnerability will only serve you in the long run. And projecting blame will only make your life seem terrible to you and everyone around you.
RuPaul said it best, “Life is hard if you do, and life is hard if you don’t.” Any which way you slice it, life is gunna throw things your way. But building character and creating a world in which you are the supreme ruler takes guts, moxie, and is all well worth it.
Get vulnerable, feel all your feelings, and stay witchy ( *)
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Being vulnerable is terrifying. But it only becomes terrifying once you’ve been hurt or rejected. When you were a child, you were bold and unabashed. Shameless. Unafraid. But over time, we become more and more sensitive to peoples reactions, and when those reactions are geared towards us, they have an impact on our being. Especially if they are negative.
Through our interactions with people, we take on a lot of their emotions as sensitive animals. If someone says something to us that we perceive as offensive, we start looking as our past actions to think of why they would say such a thing. We dissect OURSELVES instead of thinking of what might happened in their head to yield such a response. We create these stories to support our pain and embarrassment and they become our truth.
Similarly, in relationships, if our partner doesn’t respond to our vulnerabilities they way we want them to, we shrink up and create walls. We think “Well that wasn’t the desired reaction, so I should stop doing what I did so I can control the situation.”
Instead of being proud of showing up in a vulnerable way and creating a dialogue, we shrink up out of trauma and create barriers that inhibit us from true intimacy.
Barriers are a natural response. They signify what we need for survival. They protect us. Unfortunately, though, in order to have a truly deep connection with someone, we have to take emotional risks. Which is so scary. But its necessary.
Relationships exist in a give and take environment. You will only gain what you can give out. You will only inspire vulnerability in someone if you can offer some to the table. And sometimes it won’t work in your favor, which is the huge risk. But when it does, it is highly rewarding. Stay risky and stay witchy ( *)