Ever had that conversation that you knew you needed to have but you were avoiding it? Maybe with a spouse, a close friend, a family member? Yeah, me too. What happens is that instead of having the conversation, I create a story in my head about the other person’s motives, what they must be thinking, or the why behind what they’re doing. I create their side of the story without giving them a chance to chime in. And, invariably, my story is far worse than what is actually happening.
In my story, I am being hurt, slighted, or ignored. My feelings are being smashed down. It’s never a version where it all works out. It’s a version where there is conflict. And in my story, I’m upset, and crying. What does all this storytelling do for me? Well, my brain swirling about it usually leads to me actual crying, getting anxious, feeling upset…even though the conversation never happened!
Been there? Most of us have.
This was the topic of conversation with my friend/coach the other day. It started off as just chatting and next thing I know, we’re smack in the middle of it. How did that happen?? And yes, there was crying, by me of course. There is a HUGE bonus to having a friend who started as my coach. We float in and out of that mode at times. So she knows me. We’ve gone there. And when she sees it, she gently calls me on my crap. Those are friends everyone should have, in my opinion.
She pushed up on me and I’ll spare you the gory details but it came back to vulnerability. Rather than having a conversation, I was creating story. So the bigger question is why not just have the conversation? Well that was scary, full of unknowns, had the potential for me to get hurt. Then again, was it hurt, or was it that the other person wouldn’t see things from my perspective. The truth is, they might not. So what was really keeping me from having that conversation?
Vulnerability. I’d have to be vulnerable, share what I was thinking. Open myself up to those unknowns. Now that was scary. But was it worse than what I was doing to myself? Creating the stories in my head. If you also create the stories, think about how much free brain space you’d have if you skipped that step and just had a conversation.
The thing is, I’d done the vulnerability thing. Moved past it. And now I had to do it again?? I think I’d always known it, but vulnerability is not a one and done thing, it’s a practice. It’s part of life. It’s what keeps you from spinning yourself into victim mode. Or from creating stress and strife – in your head – about your relationships. Being vulnerable lets you speak your truth. Let’s you be your true self, and how the other person responds is up to them, but if you speak from a place of vulnerability, you’ll know. Instead of the story, you’ll know the other side.
I’m not going to lie, the thought of being vulnerable makes me queasy. But I have to do it. We have to do it my friend. It’s not a one shot deal. We can’t say “oh I’ve done
vulnerability,” and move on to something else. So, are you in? Are you with me? This is one of those be brave moments. I know we can do it. Trust you heart, guard your heart “…it determines the course of your life.” (Prov. 4:23). Your heart knows the way to vulnerability, trust it.