Accessing Vulnerability to Create Community

Vulnerability is a sign of weakness. You can’t let them see who you really are, because what if they don’t accept you?

These are the thoughts I have had for years surrounding vulnerability and opening up to others. I have lived life with one arm extended out so as to prevent anyone getting close enough to hurt me.

Last year I focused on changing my mindset to get to a better place with how I felt about myself and accepting myself as I am, but this did not focus on creating community with others.

Now I have the opportunity to to focus on creating community by participating in a virtual yoga program aimed at personal revolution, host by my favorite yoga studio in Houston, BIG Power Yoga. I realized in this program that by not allowing myself to access my vulnerability, I am preventing myself from creating a connected community with others.

The first week of the program we focused on presence and trying to pinpoint everyday experiences that cause divide and separateness, and then finding a way to make creating community possible.

This inquiry basically smacked me right across of the face. I got present to the moments when I put up a wall and prevent creating community with others. And what did I find?

My biggest moments of causing divide and separateness are moments when I feel like I am not enough and fear others won’t be able to relate to me if they hear my story.

The Lie: If you haven’t been through it then you cannot relate to me

I have been taught my whole life that collecting memories is more important than the clothes you wear, the car you drive and the money in your bank account. I do not value having fancy clothes or going to fancy restaurants. I shop at Old Navy and would rather eat cheap street tacos. I would rather spend my money on a flight abroad to have a new adventure and make new memories.

I also come from a divorced family and a messy custody battle that has left very complicated intricacies within my relationship with my family. I often have found myself envying the people who have never been through something like this, and then immediately assume they wouldn’t be able to relate to me with their own struggles, so I shut them out.

What ends up happening, in a really twisted way, is I end up judging myself for not having nice enough clothes, not having a trust fund, not relating to the dream of becoming a “stay at home mom” or not having the perfect family, like I perceive these other people to have.

I take my own experiences and values, and then judge myself for not feeling like I am enough to be close with people who seemingly have it all together.

Historically, I have not allowed myself to live in a world where I can create community with people who have not shared my struggled, because I would often feel like there was nothing I could possibly relate with them on.

Instead, I put up a wall due to my own feeling of “not being enough” and counted our relationship dead in the water before it even began.

The Truth: Everyone has a story worth sharing

The bottom line is, people are human and they have their own story and their own struggles they battle every single day.

I am becoming present to moments when I start to feel this way so that I can shift my mindset to commit myself to see others as a human beings.

Living, breathing, normal human beings who has their own set of struggles. I will longer want to see others as people I have to feel inferior to because of the things they have or the experiences we might not share.

When I put up a wall because I am afraid of being seen for who I am and the baggage I carry, I make it impossible for others to be vulnerable enough to show me the who they are.

As a collective society, we have to stop placing labels on each other based on the surface level glimpses we have of each other’s personalities. Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has their own dirty laundry they are hiding away in their baggage.

But here are some questions to ponder:

  • Wouldn’t this world be so much easier to live in every day if we just shared our stories and got real with each other?
  • Wouldn’t it be easier to create community if you were open to being truly seen for all that you are and embracing it?
  • Wouldn’t it be freeing to get vulnerable so you can give permission to others to open up and share who they truly are with you?

Taking the risk to open up and be vulnerable with others then gives them the space and the permission to do the same with you.

It builds trust and community.

My Commitments to Vulnerability

So here I am being totally open and vulnerable.

I struggle with feeling like I am enough every single day. I often struggle with if I am enough in this body, in these Old Navy clothes, in my restlessness, in my absolutely paralyzing fear of long term commitment, in my childhood struggles, in my complicated relationships with my parents. I have felt alone in a crowded room by my own doing, my own fear to be seen.

And the biggest one of them all? I have felt responsible for most of my life to make sure everything was seeming perfectly put together so everyone around me could feel supported, while often sacrificing my own well-being. I would opt for living with disappointing myself instead of feeling guilty and disappointing others. This stops here.

My commitments to vulnerability in order to create community are:

  • I will listen with commitment. This means listening to the things they say in a way that allows them to be heard and allows me to be impacted by what they are saying.
  • I will stop putting up a wall and instead share my story so others have a chance to open up to me.

How can you Create Community?

This world needs a lot more open-heartedness and a lot PERMISSION to be vulnerable.

Let’s get present to these experiences.

Let’s break down our walls.

Let’s be vulnerable.

Let’s create community.

Let’s share our stories. Submit a comment below to share your biggest struggle with creating community.

P.S. Let’s keep this conversation rolling! If you want to join the community, follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

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