Let’s get vulnerable.

imageWould you still love me if you knew?

We live in a highly competitive society in which the smug smile of success is constantly and ever more subtly advertised as the ultimate state to be achieved. Our busy, economic minded culture is by definition a highly competitive one, in which expressions of negativity, doubt or sadness are generally discouraged. This is even more prominent within social media.

I began to wonder how much separation we are actually creating from only posting status updates and photos of us counting our blessings, and seemingly doing “amazing” things, with “amazing” friends, in “amazing” locations. We create these avatars that only seem to experience success but not failure; joy, but not sorrow; the good, but not the bad; the pretty, but not the ugly; the extraordinary, but not the mundane.

I am guilty of this myself as I regularly post pictures of me jumping up mid-air with a big smile whilst hiking amongst the highest mountains in the world, or looking so peaceful and content sitting on a sandy beach with the most stunning sunset as a backdrop. I suspect that the image/avatar I have created is one that most would be envious of, a lady of leisure who does not seem to be concerned with making a living, instead enjoying herself in beautiful, exotic locations all over the world.

Whilst that is true to a certain extent, what you do not see – or what I did not share – were the moments when I was falling apart (and there were plenty of those), sobbing in despair like a child, despite being surrounded by some of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen.

The moments when I feel crushed by the frustration of realising there was in fact no escaping or running away from the darkest shadows of my own emotional hell, regardless of where I am physically. You don’t see that in my status updates though.

As human beings, there can be this intrinsic sense of loneliness and feeling of separation from others. When we are faced with our own difficult emotions or “weaknesses”, we often feel that we are the only one in the world who feels that way, as it appears that everyone else is having such a great time and having it all.

During my travel/ journey in the last year or so, I have experienced the power of being honest and vulnerable. To myself and to others. In a healing workshop, I sat in a roomful of people from all over the world and it didn’t matter what our names were, what we do for a living, where we are from and all the usual things you would typically try to find out from strangers. We were there to open up to each other, to share ALL aspects of ourselves. Not only the good, but also the bad, the smelly and the ugly.

The connection that can be built from this openness to each other is immense. It makes me realise that I am not the only person in the world that feels scared, weak, insecure, lonely, etc. To be able to admit to ourselves and to others our deepest fear and our imperfections is, in my view, a courageous act. And it is a contageous act because it allows others to be open and vulnerable too.

I have also built real connection within hours simply by letting people know how I REALLY am feeling, rather than the usual “I am fine, thanks” response. How often do you really share honestly with another human being?

It is of course not the cultural norm to start launching into a full heart to heart when your work colleague politely asks you how you are doing, waiting next to the coffee machine. In fact, we are even trained to put up a brave and positive facade, often lying to ourselves and each other.

What you are really thinking and feeling could be: “I had a terrible argument with my girlfriend last night, I can never seem to please her enough. I feel lonely, I am turning 40 next year and I’m still not married, I am scared of being alone forever, I think something is wrong of me, I hate my job but I don’t have the courage to leave“. But of course, you would politely answer: “I’m doing very well, thank you. I had a fantastic dinner with my girlfriend last night at this new restaurant. You should try the chef degustation menu“.

We are denying our own truth and missing opportunities to let others into parts of who we really are. We also deny them the chance to share that they have the same fears and worries, and therefore the precious chance to feel a real connection with another human being, to know that regardless of our age, our gender, our ethnicity, our culture, or whatever apparent differences, we all share the same bittersweet experience of humanity.

I want to spread this vulnerability. This openness. This transparency. To me, this is mainly what YOGA is really about: Being real and feeling connected, as opposed to just putting my body in a fancy posture on a beach, taking a photograph of it and posting it online. I will start by confessing some of my ugly truths, and I would like to heartily invite you to join me in this challenge.

***

iConfess

1. Part of me is scared as to how you will react to this post, how you may judge me, and my ability to write. What if you don’t like what I write? What if you don’t agree? Would you still love me now that I have exposed more of my true self to you?

2. Part of me thinks something is wrong with me and wonder why I feel discontent and have to go searching for happiness when I was born to a life more privileged than the majority of the world.

3. Part of me feels lonely and unworthy so there is a need to regularly check whatsapp, facebook and instagram. I want your validation and to show me my worthiness by clicking LIKES on my posts.

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Let’s get vulnerable.

14 thoughts on “Let’s get vulnerable.

  1. Well, I for one do not wish to to judge you as I think we live in a far too judgemental society and, yes, I agree, life is a competition. My only “judgement” would be a positive one. I admire your courage in posting this. Take care x

  2. Mahie says:

    Bravo Jo! Must say this ! You carry an aura filled with postivity always attracting people. Im glad to have met you and getting connected to you.

    Top it al, You hav penned the above writing impeccably well. It so happens that in this journey of life we fail to recognize the inner most self of what we are, where we belong. We always seek happiness from all external sources rather than being aware that “Happiness is You”

    You have beautifully framed the entire write up. Not many can do this. All the very best. Looking forward to read more such interesting raw truths of life.

  3. Part of me feels so immensely touched by your truth and beauty. Part of me feels so thankful that you so well put into words what most of us feel in this world. Part of me feels super excited about your future and all the beauty you’re creating in the world, opening yourself as you are.

  4. Monika says:

    Part of me fears I will never be loved by who I really am.
    Part of me thinks I can never manage to do what I love for living.
    To love myself for who I really am is one of my biggest challenges. To allow myself to do what I love for living, I struggle with.
    Our fears and struggles do not start with others, they start with us.

    So do YOU still love you?
    Do YOU allow yourself to be happy or not?
    ARE you worthy?

    I bow my head to your courage and to your beauty, Jo. And to your words of truth. Thank god I met you.
    NAMASTE. ❤

  5. Cecilia says:

    Thank you Jo for opening up your heart to us. It is so true that there is a kind of competition on social media about who has the most exciting life that you don’t dare posting anything ‘negative’ in any way. However privileged our lives might be we all have our up and downs. But we may feel that people are not interested in our ‘unhappy times’, that it will either bore them or that they may judge us, making us feel vulnerable as you said. I hope with all my heart that you will find your way and your true happiness Jo, you deserve it, you are such a beautiful person

  6. Joanne says:

    Jo Jo that was beautiful and just makes me love you more. I totally hear all your saying and to do what you are doing with your life now is so courageous. Stay true to you. Love from the other lost Jo. XXXX

  7. Oh, Jo Chan! Thank you so much for sharing this with me…and with the world! You know me – I love rigorous honesty. It’s probably the main thing that has kept me alive through those shadows and upsets. So yay, I positively judge you as real, honest and healthy. Go, girl. Big hugs from DC… OM Shanti.

  8. Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts of vulnerability. I’ve been doing this for some time through my blog – its much easier to write than to live it. But now I’m living it as well and learning. Its much easier in Ubud where everyone is attuned to this. Its much harder with old family and friends who don’t know how to deal with this new improved version. It simply confounds and confronts others to look into a place they don’t want to look into. So Jo, I thank God that you were brave enough to do this. That you faced your fear for yourself. That you faced your fear for the benefit of us all. That you’ve contributed to humanity by an act of openess and love. Namaste Sister x

  9. Thanks so much for this lovely post, Jo!

    I agree with everything you shared and I so appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and share on your blog.

    Thank you again!

  10. Thanks for sharing. My “mentor” when it comes to blogging is James Altucher. He advises you to “bleed on every page.” Pretty much his whole writing style is “I’m such a fuckup but…” and his work is amazing. I think (real) people are sick of those who try to pretend that everything is OK when it isn’t It’s not authentic.

    I was searching for some links to Altucher on this subeject and also so this which is relevant. http://www.sfwa.org/2015/03/wheres-the-line-on-personal-sharing-in-blog-posts-and-online/

    Altucher: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/03/33-unusual-tips-to-being-a-better-writer/

    Keep up the quality sharing;
    Simon

  11. Lovely. Society can be over demanding on our image of success, and yet the really brave people are those who embrace their challenges and shortcomings. Admitting mistakes, accepting failings and realising we can be loved anyway is a path to immense freedom and compassion. If we have no compassion for ourselves then how will we learn it for others? It’s so important to love your own ability to be humble, and imperfect and even wrong. Our failures are what lead us to real success.

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