Permission To Be Totally Yourself
By Mary Berkery
A client came to me after noticing a pattern in her relationships. She would commence by giving much but later resent that she was doing more of this than the other person. People either started to take her for granted, become angry with her or she would pull back or create arguments. In exploring this, we looked at her vulnerability and what could she share of this, instead of her usual habits.
A young man came to ask for help with his girlfriend. She would spend hours getting ready to go out. She was insecure in how she looked and would try on lots of clothes and make-up options to cover up what she thought were her flaws. “She is so beautiful and cannot see it,” he told me.
If I had worked with her, we would have explored ways to practise being her true self in group situations and how her make-up and dress can be in harmony with this. A mentor, Faith Nyquist asked me a question when I embarked on beauty training, “When is a woman most beautiful?” “I do not know,” I answered. “When she is totally herself,” she replied. Carl Rodgers, the famous psychologist, said after years of working with clients “What is most personal is most universal.” What you think is your personal shortcoming, when shared, you realise others have similar fears and concerns. Rene Brown in her TED talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, says “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”
I admire Nigella Lawson, her voluptuous and beautiful appearance. During her public divorce there was even more beauty in a face that showed pain andstress. She seemed to me more touchable and loveable. So why does vulnerability seem scary? Why does it feel easier to protect with a wall around us? Sharing deeper aspects of ourselves seems risky in a world that can seem hard and cruel, and perhaps there are few role-models who lead in this.
Tips on being true
1. Choose who you share with. Vulnerability is tender and deserves care. Practise with someone who will not judge, or interrupt. This person can be a close friend, family member, a coach or counsellor.
2. Ask for what you need. Create a context for sharing authentic conversation by asking if the other person is willing to listen. You can also request that they do not offer any advice unless you ask for it. The purpose of vulnerability is not problem solving, it is about exposing and releasing.
3. State your feelings. If you feel nervous or ashamed, commence conversation by stating that. That’s ok. The key ingredients are authenticity and intimacy, allow yourself to be seen.
4. Watch judgments. Be aware of judging or analysing feelings. Allow anger, sadness or tears be there without censoring or editing how they are expressed.
5. Love you. Find that nervous person inside. Love their heart, shyness, warmth, their passion and tenderness. Let them know it is ok to speak and be heard. If someone judges or ridicules, it is a trait of their character and not yours. Tell yourself you are loved for who you are. The more you open up as yourself, the more attractive you become and others will be more relaxed and real with you, you give them permission to do so in your brave and beautiful steps of vulnerability.