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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 7th Challenge: The beauty of vulnerability

Oh, it was hard to select today's challenge. I had a wonderful dinner with two friends, and ended up with notes not just in my little book (during dinner) but on my hand (walking home). This week's challenges are pretty much spoken for, thanks to some great conversation with E and L. Tuesday's challenge is an outcome of that conversation.
Today, practice being vulnerable.
We talked about conversation and being authentic. The concept of being vulnerable-- which we described mostly through its antitheses of avoidance of arrogance, defensiveness and masking-- was key to the attainment of true connection.

This isn't an easy or even reasonable request.  We live in time of culture that encourages or requires constant self-aggrandizement, defensiveness and a goodly dose of paranoia. But there is no true intimacy without vulnerability.  If all that is seen of you is your best and shiniest (or worse, a false) self-- who is really being loved or admired?
What tipped the scales on this being the first of several blogs encouraged by tonight's Good Talk:  graffiti I saw in the bathroom.  For once, at least since I joined Wolf's world photo diary, I didn't bring a camera on my outing.  That was on purpose and in deference to Monday's challenge of Deep Listening.  I didn't want the possibility of an interesting shot distracting me from being present with my friends.  Being a being of very limited attention span (look!  a squirrel!) I decided it best to leave the camera at home for a change. As a result I cannot attest to this quote being verbatim.  But it struck a deep chord:  "I am loved most by the people who know me least", it said.  Back at the restaurant table, we'd just been discussing conversation, vulnerability and defensiveness, and being seen and heard.  My first thought (ok, second--after 'where's my camera?') was 'That's probably true for me on facebook.  And the World diary".  Then I thought, quickly, as if it would be antidote, 'but I try to show my vulnerabilities.'  Yet I know that I can be much more of an asshole, a dimwit, a jerk-for-brains than I ever show on my media face.  I am grateful for those who know the 360 degrees and still put up with me, let alone love me.  And I am aware of those I love, maybe even more, because I know how very real, three-dimensional and human they are.

... and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to blossom. -a. nin

I used to give a lot of public talks.  In most of them I managed to get in my three truths with a lower case t:
1)  Even organisms without brains do a great job of avoiding pain
2)  The middle path is almost always the best path
and most pertinent here:
The best of us have feet that are not only clay, but moldy and rotten.  And it doesn't mean our best isn't beautiful.  And well worth seeing.

For me, I want to know that my friends are human.  That like me, they have bad days, stupid thoughts, difficult ethical dilemmas.  It feels reassuring to know that their lives aren't perfect and neither are they.  It expands my world to know them deeper and it expands my connection to feel less separate from them.

Today, practice being vulnerable to another.  Say you are sorry and admit being wrong when you are.  Say "I don't understand" and seek to.  Say "I didn't know that" and learn.  Say "I am afraid" and maybe, just maybe, there will be comfort forthcoming.

If you've not yet seen this, I cannot recommend this TED talk more heartily: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html
Join the challenges on Facebook.
Shout out of the day:  Thank you Laura, for donating your laptop.  My desktop is currently Unwell with Virus, and without you, this post wouldn't have happened. 
Quote of the day:  To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. – C.S Lewis

Related post: The bravery of relationship 
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