Wednesday, April 10, 2013

taking down the fortress.

I think my biggest, most constant struggle in life has been to be authentic.  Like all of us, I've gone through some shit against which I had to build up a protective armor.  In my case, though, that protective armor took over to the point that I felt like I was always in "fortress" mode and never just being myself. You know all the reasons behind that because we all think them:
- I'm not good (thin, smart, rich, popular, ambitious, skilled....) enough
- I'll be rejected
- I won't belong
- I'll fail
- yadda
- yadda
- yadda....

The bottom line was fear (sheer terror, actually) of being vulnerable.  That kept me disconnected from everyone and everything. Seriously, I mean, TOTALLY unable to be emotionally intimate with ANYONE - romantically or platonically.  From the outside, everything looked fine, you'd see me as fun and entertaining; you wouldn't notice a thing...but if you thought about it hard, you'd realize that you never felt totally connected to me - that something was slightly off or cold or distant about me underneath all the giggling and bravado.  From the inside, it felt like being stuck on auto-pilot and not being able to change the setting.  I felt stiff and weak and terrified all the time.  And it completely stalled my acting (one of the few activities that actually empowers me!) because it's impossible to act well without being vulnerable.  So for the last year, I've been working on opening up and being ok with my vulnerability rather than ashamed.  It's scary as all hell.  And I still stink at it most of the time.  But I, slowly but surely, AM getting closer to living with my whole heart.  And the beautiful irony is that I feel less pain now that I'm more open than when I was closed off "protecting" myself from getting hurt.  (Hmm, it's kinda like getting a bikini wax: clench and it hurts longer, relax and the torture ends quickly.)

Today, I was introduced to Brené Brown's works on Vulnerability and Shame.  Right on time!

p.s.  at 16:42, she gives some insight into shame for men - very worth noting!

And Downtown Romantic sums up one of Brown's books best:

10 Guideposts for Whole-Hearted Living 
1. Cultivate Authenticity: Let go of what people think
2. Cultivate Self-compassion: Let go of perfection
3. Cultivate a Resilient Spirit: Let of of numbing (aka food, wine, Xanax) and powerlessness
4. Cultivate Gratitude and Joy: Let go of scarcity
5. Cultivate Intuition and Trusting Faith: Let go of the need for certainty
6. Cultivate Creativity: Let go of comparison
7. Cultivate Play and Rest: Let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
8. Cultivate Calm and Stillness: Let go of anxiety as a life-style
9. Cultivate Meaningful Work: Let go of self-doubt and "supposed to"
10. Cultivate Laughter, Song and Dance: Let go of being cool and always in control

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