“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brené Brown
Last weekend I attended a workshop exploring the work of Brené Brown. In her program Rising Strong, Brené Brown invites us to participate in exploring our own vulnerability, to ‘dare greatly’, to show up. The program, The Daring Way™, is creating a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.
Part of the challenge for me was to choose from the ‘10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living’ what was I willing to ‘let go of’ and what was I ‘wanting to cultivate.’ We were asked to choose from a list that included letting go of ‘what people think,’ ‘perfectionism,’ ‘anxiety as a lifestyle,’ etc. For me I chose ‘Exhaustion as a status symbol,’ ‘Productivity as self-worth’, and ‘Need for Certainty.’
It was so hard to share, admit, and own my list, and be willing, at least for a short moment ‘to let go.’ On the Cultivating side list were.. ‘Authenticity,’ ‘Self-Compassion,’ ‘Play and Rest,’ ‘Gratitude and Joy.’ I chose ‘Calm and Stillness’ and ‘Creativity.’
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.”
“Through my research, I found that vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the magic sauce.” ~ Brené Brown
I knew that as a partner, parent, therapist and a couple workshop leader, I must do ‘the work’ myself. I must allow my inner self to show up, to feel and to be vulnerable even when I am scared and worried about how is it going to look or be perceived. “Will I still be ‘who I am’?” I know wholeheartedly that unless I am willing to see myself, I can not have integrity while asking others to do that too. I realized I had a long way to go ahead of me.
Those of you who know me, know that every year on the week leading up to Labor Day, I make a pilgrimage to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to partake in the Burning Man festival event. I am part of the Mental Health Emergency Services (they call us ‘psyches on bikes’), and we help participants when they experience trauma, abuse, or yes, vulnerability.
A few years ago I wrote a blog about my experiences. That year (2015), in Burning Man there was an art installation piece called LOVE. It was a sculpture by Ukrainian artist Alexandr Milov. It demonstrates a conflict between a man and a woman as well as the outer and inner expression of human nature. The figures of the protagonists are made in the form of big metal cages, where their inner selves are captivated. Their inner selves are executed in the form of transparent children, who are holding out their hands through the grating to each other.
In this powerful image we can see in huge dimension the inner conflicts of relationship. While the two adult figures (in the form of big metal cages!) are turning away in sorrow from each other, the inner selves are longing for the connection. In many cases, art can show us concepts that are hard to put into words, and this piece is a prime example of how very deep ideas can be conveyed without speaking. What an amazing symbol and depiction of the work I do with my couples in the office and in my workshops.
I found it to be such a testimonial as to how vulnerable we are in our relationships and especially when we LOVE. Daring to reach out, to talk about our fears and needs and hope, and to allow our partner to ‘see us’. As I say so often in my office to my clients (and to myself!), Intimacy = In To Me You See…
We fear that if we show show our vulnerability, and share our deep real primary emotions and talk about our hurts and needs, we will be looked at as weak, we will be dismissed or ridiculed, or worst of all, we will be abandoned and rejected by the person we turned to. That’s why it may feel ‘safer’ to close ourselves in ‘metal cages’ and turn away…
This coming weekend I am honored and privileged to lead my HMT (Hold Me Tight) workshop here in beautiful Nevada City. Though I lead this workshop regularly, it’s always a new, compelling experience for me to facilitate, witness, and hold space for the daring, vulnerable reaching that occurs between partners during the workshop.
Our March Hold Me Tight workshop is Sold-Out!!! We will offer another one soon, please go to our contact me page on the website and join our mailing list to be notified about our next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop event.
Blessings for the upcoming spring…
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
~ Anaïs Nin
with warm regards,