This weekend a friend of mine invited me to participate in a photo shoot organized by The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, the non-profit where she works. The What I Be Project is about destigmatizing mental health concerns, so, of course I said yes.
When I got to the shoot, my friend explained that the photographer and I would discuss by vulernablities and work together to create the image. There were counselors on site in case I wanted to process anything that came up. Then I met with Steven Rosenfield, for our mini interview.
He asked me what I was self-conscious about, what I don’t feel comfortable revealing to other people.
I just stared at him.
I literally couldn’t think of anything.
Now, I admit that I’m not very good at being vulnerable. It’s something I’ve consciously been working on for the past couple of years. Was I hiding some big secret that I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him? At this point in my life I’m pretty comfortable with myself and my choices. That doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes, that I can’t do things better, that I know everything. But given the right circumstances, I’m willing share pretty much anything.
Brené Brown, today’s leading expert on vulnerability research, explains that being vulnerable doesn’t mean dumping your entire story and every insecurity on anyone with an open ear. You build relationships that are context specific. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t disclose insecurities or vulnerabilities soon after meeting someone. It just means making conscious decisions about how and when you dive deeper.
My yoga practice has been absolutely key in teaching me to sit with my uncomfortable feelings. To learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Do I still get sad, ashamed, guilty about things? Absolutely. But there’s no “big thing” that jumps to mind when I’m asked about my insecurities.
Now, I still have a long way to go. And just because I make the choices I think are best for me, other people’s opinions be damned, I still value community, acceptance, belonging. It’s a constant work in progress figuring out how to navigate the borders of those ideas.
What is your relationship with your uncomfortable feelings? How might getting over your fear of them make an impact on your everyday life?
When we are willing to stay even a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it. - Pema Chödrön
Photo: Steven Rosenfield