I have been interested in the driver behind human behavior for as long as I can remember. I worked in the night-club industry for many years and got to witness firsthand the rawness of human emotion, the unbridled impulses that often showed the darker side of human nature. Our insecurities, our shame, our anger, and our long held resentments often bubbled to the surface while in this environment.
From there I spent the last 20 years, having over thousands of hours of one on one conversations with people, people who are trying to change the course of their life by taking control over their health. What was interesting was that though weight loss and improved muscle tone were often the discussions during the initial meeting with a client that was just the tip of the iceberg. Often when a client felt that it was safe to share, issues of poor self-image, rejection of self, and shame would surface as the driver for their decision to get “fit”.
Does a darker side of us sit just below the surface that we must protect and hide from others? In a program I attended earlier this year the trainer suggested that we are all afraid of each other, each of us afraid of the judgments that others may have of us. And why are we afraid of their judgments, because we spend time ever day judging others in the same fashion whether we like it or not. It seems that we spend a lifetime protecting our secret self from the prying eyes of the world, especially from those who we would want to share everything with, for fear how we would be treated if they knew the darker side of who we are.
When we have the courage to step up and offer up our darker side for the world to see we take a risk at rejection. Brene Brown, an amazing researcher into the world of shame, suggested that we should be careful of who we offer this gift of ourselves to, saying it is not that we shouldn’t share our story, but think carefully about who we share that story to as not everyone is ready to accept our gift of vulnerability. An interesting story that Brene shared of when a man approached her book signing booth and said “ my wife and daughters (he had three) would rather see me die on my white horse rather than show any sign of weakness. Often the world will request it seems for us to keep up the charade of who we are “supposed” to be, never allowing us the space to show any sign of a supposed weakness, but in truth, we can only live fully and wholly if we permit ourselves to be vulnerable.
During her research Brene also discovered that those who had the greatest lives, the deepest relationship were those who allowed themselves to be vulnerable, as they lived “wholeheartedly” not holding anything and enjoying a richness that many us long for. So what is the lesson? I guess simply that there are ones in the world who will love us unconditionally and will gladly receive all parts of us, the light and the dark, for you cannot have one without the other. To be vulnerable may seem like a weakness to this world of harden exterior shells, but in truth, it is the ultimate strength, one that will allow the presence of peace, love and connection to pour into the deepest recesses of your being.
C. David Gilks Your Fellow Traveler
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