The last few weeks have been strange, I have put myself willing in situations where I have felt vulnerable.
I went on a gestalt course on how to work with sex addicts and their partners and then I was at the Barefoot Coaching Spring Conference last week where the opening session was lead by John Leary-Joyce a gestalt coach. Gestalt works in the present moment, using the body’s sensations as well as emotions and thoughts to create shift.
When John asked for a volunteer to come up to do a demonstration with him I was up there, I felt really compelled to step up.
As you will know if you read this regularly, I’ve got a contract with friend Susan to Play Big this year and I’m doing it. I’ve just been accepted as an expert on Psychologies Magazine’s online site called Life Labs which is a dream come true.
I went up on that stage because I know that I’m still holding myself back. I’m blocking myself moving forward and although I cognitively and consciously understand the messages in my head which do that. ‘Don’t be too big for your boots’, ‘Who do you think you are?’, ‘Don’t be a show off’ are unhelpful scripts that I know I have running, but knowing and being aware of them hasn’t been enough to change them.
- Do you have those kind of thoughts in your head?
- Do you know where they come from?
- How do they hold you back?
So when John asked why I had come up on stage (in front of 135 people) I said it was because I wanted to show up as myself more and more in my life. I can stand up in front of groups of people and run workshops and teach because I am in role when I do that, I put on a mask, I’m not insincere but I keep some of me back, I don’t have to be vulnerable by being completely myself. But me in a pub with a group of people and I’m flummoxed.
I recently went to a pre-conference dinner and I sat there thinking ‘I don’t know what to say, I can’t contribute, all these people know more than me, who am I to think that I can do this’. I couldn’t speak. I wanted to run away and hide.
So I sat on that stage and wanted to shift things for myself. I can’t really remember a lot of the detail of what I said as there were so many sensations going through my body. Much of what John did was to alternative between asking me to engage with the people watching, then to tune into what was happening in my body and all the time he was skillfully mirroring.
As feelings came and went I said them aloud: ‘I’m feeling like I shouldn’t be up here..I’m taking up too much space..too much time..someone else deserves it more than me…I’m boring people’ This is stuff I have felt all my life but this was the first time I said the words out loud and heard myself say them..it made me cry then and still does now.
As the session went on John asked if I could look out and make eye contact with people and I noticed when I did I felt such shame, of not being good enough, not being worthy, not wanting to be seen..and yes these are things I have always felt at some level.
John asked if I could look out and feel excited to see people. I couldn’t..that felt too much. But I could look out and feel curious. I was genuinely curious about what people were thinking, what they were feeling, what they were seeing and what was going on for them.
I think the session must have lasted about 45 minutes and I felt fuzzy, tingly and exhausted for much of the rest of the day.
But here’s the thing that moved me. So many people came up to me during the conference and emailed me after to thank me for my courage, for my vulnerability, for voicing what they feel and never say or acknowledge.
Men and women alike were moved, felt what I was feeling in their bodies too, cried when I cried. There seemed to have been such a deep level of connection between us all.
Which makes me shiver with excitement. By being fully myself and vulnerable and in the moment with what was going on for me, not only did things shift for me, but so, it seems did it for other people.
Imagine the potential of that! That if we could show up more and more in our lives, beyond roles and social expectations but as the raw, vulnerable souls we all are..how would the world be different.
- When are you most fully yourself?
- How does that impact on the people you are with at that time?
- What holds you back from being authentically yourself and vulnerable?
Have a good weekend.
Ps I would love it if you would click through to Psychologies Magazine LifeLabs and ‘follow’ me on there (and ‘upvote’ the blogs on there if you like them). Thank you