‘How Do You Feel About Me?’

I want to know but I am afraid to ask.

I ask anyway.

Mostly because I have confidence that even if the response isn’t to my liking, I can cope.

It doesn’t stop me from feeling sick in my stomach about the fact that I am standing here practically naked. Emotionally exposed and out on a limb.

But it is worth being out on a limb for (although not everything and everyone is).

Every time I am honest with myself and you, I grow stronger.

‘Vulnerability’

Vulnerability is my condition now.

Definition of vulnerability: “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”

Or taking Brene Brown’s definition: “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. The birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.”

Brown’s definition tells us why we have to try to resist the urge to resist being vulnerable.

When love and belonging are at stake, we have got to lean in.

‘I made something’

Vulnerability is making art or products or businesses or relationships, and holding them up for the world to scrutinise. It is writing a book about life lessons I am still learning.

Vulnerability is pitching for sales and giving speeches.

It is “here is the largest offering I have. I worked hard at it for you.”

It is total, scary wilderness.

‘I like you’

In relationships, vulnerability is communication without the expectation.

It is “I think you are special”, not because I am trying to work out what you can give me, but because that is what I think.

It is swallowing your pride occasionally, and admitting that you need people.

It’s also going all out for something or someone.¬†It is making an effort or a favourite meal, dressing up to see a person, and wearing fragrance because you want to smell good.

It is undisguised delight upon sight of them.

‘Requests’

Vulnerability is asking for what you want with awareness that it is the other person’s right not to grant your wishes.

‘Truth’

Vulnerability¬†isn’t emotionally spewing.

It’s owning the truth of who you are and being as undefended as possible, without being unwise about it.

It’s in keeping the commitments you make to yourself and others, large and small.

It is constantly scanning your words and actions for the lies that fracture your integrity.

‘I’m sorry’

Vulnerability is apologizing when you screw up. It is “I am sorry I was careless with your feelings. It matters to me that I did that.”

In leadership, it might be “we did badly here, here are my failings and this is what we all need to do about it.”

It is the knowing that publicly acknowledging your flaws demonstrates your strength, not your weakness.

‘Trust’

Being vulnerable is how we learn to trust eachother.

When I am vulnerable with you and allow you to respond, it helps me to see what is real in my life and worth investing in, and what isn’t.

It puts marbles in the jars.

‘Fear’

Vulnerability is so terrifying because being this raw is what we are hardwired to avoid.

But when your approval of yourself is total, you can risk being seen.

You feel safe to ask for what you want, because you’ve taught yourself that your safety isn’t at stake.

‘Thank you’

There can be a lot of vulnerability in a thank you.

In a “you made a difference to me” and in a “I was afraid until you showed me I could do this”. And “you really helped me.”

Vulnerability.

A limb worth going out on.

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