Free the butterfly within: choose vulnerability

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Last week I was fortunate enough to have my parents staying with me for a week. I don’t know if I’ve written about my parents before, but I have to say that they are two of my favourite people in the entire world. I look up to them and always have. After they left on Friday I immediately missed them. I also experienced a deep sense of gratitude for the connections I have today with family and friends, and here is why …

Trapped in the cocoon of fear

For many years I felt like a caterpillar trapped inside its cocoon. No matter where I went, or what I did, I was encased in a protective layer. It was a silhouette that forever framed me and allowed me to be a surface version of myself. One who pretended like everything was okay; smiling and washing away any hint of vulnerability because to be vulnerable meant to be honest and this meant having raw and, at times, difficult conversations. The ones that made me squirm just thinking about them.

My strategy, instead, was not to think about them, and not to have them. That way, I was free from rejection, abandonment and any other disastrous consequence that was bound to be inflicted on me. Instead of being open to vulnerability, I remained within my cocoon; keeping my truths hidden, with nowhere to go. Within these confines I was safe. It was far easier to be a poster version of myself. That way, I could pick and choose how it all looked. Over time, though, the poster began to fray and took on a shade of ashen grey, until all that remained was a shadow of my true self.

Choosing vulnerability

“…Without mud, you cannot have a lotus flower. Without suffering, you have no ways in order to learn how to be understanding and compassionate…. Happiness is the lotus flower, and the suffering is the mud. So the practice is how to make use of the suffering, make use of the mud, to create the flower, the happiness, and this is possible.” ~  Thich Nhat Hanh

As there is no lotus, without the mud, without a cocoon, there is no butterfly. It wasn’t until I forced open my cocoon and allowed my core self to shine that my world began to change. This meant having the courage to be open to vulnerability and letting go of the need to act a certain way, or impress people.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Today I choose to turn up and have those difficult conversations that make me feel sick with anxiety. It’s about being true to myself and knowing that when I am the best version of me, the one that is honest and loving towards myself, the words that spill forth from my mouth will also be honest, and loving to others.

When we put time and effort into relationships and talk honestly with those we love, it opens up the level of communication and allows conversation to flow effortlessly. Within this space there is no intention and no motivation. We are not trying to get anything from anyone. Being transparent with those we love also enables open channels of communication and, in offering this space to others, we are providing them with a safe space to be vulnerable. Here, beautiful friendships blossom and long lasting relationships are formed.

This week, make an effort to open up to someone and speak your truth. Be willing to break free of your cocoon and choose to be vulnerable, and be seen.

butterfly 2

A pretty little butterfly I spied as I was in the middle of writing this post 🙂

 

10 comments on “Free the butterfly within: choose vulnerability

    • Yes, when I heard about ‘no mud, no lotus’ everything seemed to make sense. It’s learning how to deal with the hard times and through that comes the good. Glad you liked 🙂

  1. Great stuff Tess. Fear is the number one problem area for me and it stops me from being the person I want to be on a daily basis if I let it. Thankfully these days I’m learning (sometimes quickly, sometimes very slowly), that I don’t have to let it rule my life anymore. I always get heaps out of your blogs, can’t wait for the next one.

    • Oh yes indeed, the old fear bubble. It can hold us back from being truly honest, but when we embrace the fear, ironically we can connect on a much deeper level. Thanks for you comment 🙂

  2. Thought provoking as always Tess. I guess I’m not one of those who has shied away from hard conversations, or from ever pretending; about anything. I think partly this is because since I was very young I constructed a life around me that was packed with people; children and adults. I know this is not an explanation for why I had to confront the hard stuff but for me what it meant was that I could indulge my natural inclinations, the ones that were imbedded from childhood, of trying to be honest and having a morbid fear of any sort of relationship not based on real feelings. The hard part has been that sometimes my world has been very cluttered and I’ve had to work through this to find the real me; you can lose youself in other peoples lives. I became an expert at having relationships based on real conversations, if you practice something you get very good at it. For me it has been unwinding this learning to stop talking and being actively involved in other peoples lives and hearing the quiet within myself, the part of me that owns my own core. As I’ve got older I think I’m trying to be quieter in the world, to let the flow of the world wash over me, without denying my enthusiasm for being in the world and desire to be seen.

    • Thanks Jenny, that is so true. You are definitely someone who I look up to in terms of being able to talk honestly and openly about the hard stuff. I love how you talk about hearing the quiet within yourself, for me, I have found this to be the most significant factor to being vulnerable. Once we allow ourselves to simply ‘be’ then everything else just happens naturally.

  3. Yes, I think you Tess are helping me to find the quiet in myself, both by your own example and through leading me into places I’ve been sceptical of going such as Kristin Neff’s book Self Compassion.

  4. I recently read Daring Greatly over Christmas an edit has inspired me to approach 2015 very differently. I’d heard loads about vulnerability and was nodding my head but Brene’s book really showed me how that actually played out. It’s surprising how vulnerability can change people’s lives in such different ways. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story. x

    • Hi Fran, thank you!

      Isn’t Daring Greatly amazing? I loved it, Brene Brown is very inspiring. Being open to vulnerability really can change lives and it allows the softer and more authentic version to come to the surface. Here’s to being vulnerable 🙂

      Tess x

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