I used to be one of those people that when I was offered help I would say no…even if I really needed it, and as for asking for it- that would never happen. Somehow there was this sense of pride that meant if I accepted help then I was not managing, and a feeling that I ought to be able to do it for myself, and because I couldn’t, that meant I was weak in some way. All the feelings of uncertainty, can I trust another not to think badly of me, fear and shame would come up.
And in that moment I wasn’t allowing someone else to give and myself to receive. And, more to the point, I wasn’t allowing my vulnerability to be seen.
For many years I confused vulnerability with weakness and maintained a mask of strength when really inside I wanted someone to tell me to go sit down while they fixed “it”…..whatever “it” was at the time.
Dr.Brene Brown did some ground breaking research on vulnerability that I often point my clients too. She says “Too often we lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity and love”. I would add to that, that what we also lose sight of, is the fact that the feelings of vulnerability don’t come from asking for the help of another, or how we will appear to them, but they come entirely from our own thinking about asking and our mind read about what that means.
Most people love to help, for some it is a way of showing love and building trust. If you believed that in not asking for help you were saying “I don’t want you to show me that you care about me and that you can be trusted” I wonder if we would still feel that way about asking? If you knew that not accepting an offer of help was keeping people at arms’ length in your attempt to protect yourself would you still say no?
Dr Brown’s research states that we try to ward off feelings of disappointment with a shield of cynicism, disarm shame by numbing ourselves against joy and circumvent grief by shutting off our willingness to love. Why do we do all this to ourselves…..because we believe that the emotion is too big to handle and we are afraid of the experience; all of these strategies are based on the fear of feelings….which, when we understand that all we are ever feeling is our thinking means what we are scared of is experiencing our own thinking.
Sydney Banks said “If the only thing people learned was to not be afraid of their experience that alone would change the world”.
We are only ever experiencing an internally generated feeling created by our thought processes in that moment- it is nothing scarier than that. And feelings pass. Always. What we resist persists. Feel it, allow it, allow the energy in motion, e-motion, to move through you without story and then it moves on.
In dropping our vulnerability armour we are being authentic. There is so much courage in allowing our self to be seen in this way, it prevents us from shutting down and shutting out and allows us to receive.