Being Seen

This goes with my bubble theory.

I’m going to keep it here so it doesn’t get lost.

It addresses a hiccup in the thinking –

What happens if your bubble is invisible? Or, in my case, is ultra ultra tough?

Brené Brown says what I’m getting at: “in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen”.

This is a post on vulnerability.

It’s about the notion that we have to let the walls down in order to truly connect. I’ve been struggling with letting the walls down for a long time because I’ve been paralysed by the flipside, which is shame. I didn’t have the vocabulary to identify it, prior to this video, although the words have helped it make sense. Shame is about not believing that you, as you, are enough. It means, I think, that you hide bits of yourself and, in the act of self-editing, end up squashing your bubble or creating an opportunity for doubt –

But if they knew?

It means there is a barrier in place that doesn’t let the bubble magic work.

I’ve been chipping away at my barrier over the past year. I’ve been sharing stuff I thought was unshareable and prioritising authenticity, even though it’s made me feel quite afraid. I’m not a hundred percent there yet but the barrier’s starting to crack.

And this is what I’ve learnt –

  • That the fear of being exposed lessens the more that you choose to share.
  • That openness unexpectedly enables empathy: you sometimes have to admit to a vulnerability in order to learn that you are not alone.
  • That the process of opening ourselves up to others is transformative: like a closed bud that flowers and keeps growing, or a caged bird that finds its wings.
  • That the courage required is constant: there will always be a risk in letting yourself be seen, and a temptation to hide should the reaction feel wrong.
  • That self acceptance is easier learnt in conversation than when we try and reach it on our own.
  • That authenticity can, unexpectedly, smash through conformity and expectation, even though these are often the things that have held me back.
  • That you tend to get back what you give – and often much much more – even though there are no guarantees at the start.
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17 responses to “Being Seen

  1. “I’ve been sharing stuff I thought was unshareable”

    Yes. Just yes. And every time I do this, it is just amazing. It is amazing that the stuff that I thought was bad stuff, was actually far easier to share than the supposedly shameful stuff. The shameful stuff was where I had to use the dreaded words “I care” or “I feel” or “I want”. It feels far riskier. To comment on a friendship, or assume that it is one, without asking permission first. Because someone might laugh, or undermine, or ridicule. I might be wrong. Oh horror of horrors.

    This is great. xx

    • It’s the ‘I want’ that got me – and then the thought of being laughed at. Even though there was very little evidence of that happening, and even though I wouldn’t have thought twice about another person’s want. I guess the fear (and the possibility) is always there but it’s also about not projecting my own insecurities, nor assuming the worst of everyone else. It’s a process, right?! xx

  2. “That you tend to get back what you give – and often much much more – even though there are no guarantees at the start.” Beautiful and brilliant. You are kind of inspiring, just so you know.

    • Thanks Michael – the inspiration goes both ways. I guess the other side of revealing your vulnerability is that you also discover your strengths.

  3. This is an incredible, awesome post. I can’t find the words to describe just how great it is, I want someone to make me sit down and read this every day.

    I think part of the reason it really spoke to me was that I think I’ve been learning very similar things over the past few years as well, learning to open up and show vulnerability and struggling with the shame I feel, and learning the power of authentic relationship in the midst of all that. It’s something I feel passionate about, and you have just reminded me of how important it is, so thankyou!

    • Thanks so much for this comment. I have to admit that I was slightly nervous about this one because it seemed a bit serious in relation to the earlier posts (a case in point about taking risks 😉 ). Yes. It’s strange how slowly things click into place. I’ve been thinking about authenticity for a while but hadn’t made the connection to shame which, for me, was the mixing (but ever present) piece. This video helped me to make sense of it a bit more…and I’m really glad it made sense to others. xx

  4. I wish I was like you. 🙂

    • You are wonderful. This is what I am learning. I am scared and a bit lost and far too introspective…but gradually reaching a place where these are all okay. Wishing you all the best on your journey. xx

  5. I loved the bubble theory post as do I love this one — the hiccup post. 🙂
    I think, even though your experience is an eating disorder and others may come from an experience of depression or anxiety, it all begins with the notion of self-worth. And you recognizing your self-worth and not being ashamed to write about things that might seem unwritable — you are giving strength to me and others. I reached out, big time, and things didn’t go the way I’d hoped… but, I still hope.
    We all continue to watch you grow and you continue to push me in directions I need to go.
    Keep going Issa!

  6. The hiccup post – I so wish I’d called it that.

    This – ” I reached out, big time, and things didn’t go the way I’d hoped… but, I still hope” – I think is the courage she talks about and the bit that is key. I love that we’re all taking a similar journey, and that there’s so much support and openness here. xx

  7. yes! this is exactly my challenge for myself this year, to take more relational risks and show myself more, and it is really interesting and cool to me that several of my blogger people are expressing the same intent. it’s sort of like how when you learn a new word, you start hearing it ALL THE TIME. except this is real, I think.

    • I love how much synchronicity there can be on the internet – that you can find people who share your journey and how the pieces seem to come together. It’s my challenge too and am wishing you all the best. xx

  8. Yes yes yes. My favorite : That the fear of being exposed lessens the more that you choose to share – this is what I LOVE about all people fighting for their dreams and recovery warriors, because I truly have learned the biggest strength in my life is to share my truth, my struggle, successes. Our voice matters, and the more we use it – the easier it becomes.

  9. It’s crazy isn’t it: the contrast from the isolation to the openness blows me away; and I too think that sharing our experiences is one of the greatest lessons I have learned. It’s transformed my relationship with the world and bridged the gap between myself and others that I used to feel.

  10. You guys are all very lucky. Whenever I let my walls down and try to open up, be authentic, reveal vulnerability, I just get hurt. I guess it proves that there really is something wrong with me since I’m not seeing the same results that you all are.

  11. I’m so sorry that has been your experience but I don’t think it means that there’s anything wrong with you at all. At all.In my experience, the honesty doesn’t necessarily lead to acceptance nor is it always understood or well received…it just means that, despite the reaction, I know I have been true to myself. And that, the connections, when they do occur, are really special. I guess what I’m trying (badly) to say is that please don’t see this as a judgement thing as I don’t think it works for that; it’s just been my learning that you get braver, slowly, as you learn to trust.

  12. I really agree with Issa here, it’s not so much a matter of being accepted by others, but believing in who you are so that you are able to be yourself without apology. I think that while this does mean you are more vulnerable, you are also living more authentically. If you live behind a mask then the connections you have aren’t really connections at all.

    I do think it is important to note that it is still ok to protect yourself from people and situations which are damaging. I wouldn’t necessarily tell my most painful experiences to someone who has hurt me in the past or has little capacity for empathy and understanding.

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