“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brene Brown
I found this quote yesterday and it immediately resonated with me. It touched so many nerves in me from my own fear of being vulnerable to my passion and commitment to owning and continually revisiting my story. I wrote in my last blog post about being in therapy and one of the things that I have struggled with in my therapy is getting deep enough into the darkness to be able to find the light. Of course, being someone who is always analyzing and desperately needs to understand more, I continue to make the effort to get that uncomfortable.
I am, admittedly, less emotional than I would like to be. I wish I could express my emotions more freely and I know that I keep them a bit caged up for fear of the pain and hurt that comes from opening yourself up to others. While I have many good friends, many close, dear friends, I know that I can go deeper and allow myself to be more vulnerable with them to assure them that I, too, have a soft underbelly. I understand that humans connect on an emotional level and know that I gain rich and powerful benefits from those interactions with friends and loved ones that are truly emotional. Yet, the fear of having my trust violated is almost too much for me to bear and keeps me always a little bit further back.
With all that, I still read that quote and know that its words are bountiful and beautiful. It empowers me to want to be more vulnerable and want to continue to own my story and tell my story. I have, many times in recent years, been called a storyteller because of the way I connect with people. I use storytelling in my work as well as in my personal life. And, it is more than simply sharing good stories with friends, it is about connecting dots. In order to tell a good story and to own your own story, you must understand the beginning, middle and end. You must be able to look at it from all angles and understand the characters, the motivations and the overtones and undertones. When I tell stories as part of my work, I am helping clients to understand how to utilize strategies or best practices in ways that seem comprehensive and appropriate for their workplace. I share examples of other companies and connect those dots to help them gain more clarity. I do the same when sharing stories with friends. We learn from one another’s stories and, the more detail we provide, the more angles we can look at, the more depth we can have and the more useful the story becomes in our own lives.
So often we listen to the stories that people want us to hear. We all know people who create a reality for themselves that we know to be false and does not make sense. These stories are safe for those people because they are not ready to reveal the truth of who they are to the world. It is like a cloak of protection to create a safe place for themselves. Often, without understanding the fear that is the foundation for these stories, they cause us to question ourselves in a less than meaningful way. We don’t realize that we are not experiencing authenticity but, instead, fiction that cannot be used as a basis for learning or growth.
The stories that move us emotionally and challenge us to think about ourselves differently are the ones that are the most powerful. When I think about why I love to write this blog, I think about how I hope that my stories will hopefully touch people and help them to look at their lives differently. Hopefully my words will provide some impact that enables people to grow and, ultimately, move forward in ways they had not before thought possible. For me, nothing is more meaningful or satisfying than knowing that something I shared with another helped them, even if only indirectly. I also know that by writing this blog I am allowing myself to be emotionally vulnerable in front of lots and lots of people and TRUST that it will all be ok!
So, I encourage you all to read and reread the words in that quote and think about how you can own your story and allow yourself to take the risk to be more vulnerable and explore some of those dark corners. I know that I am committed to journeying forward a little bit more every day and, while I often am scared that I am out on a ledge with no safety net and no one there to catch me, I am learning to trust that someone always has my back.