You know that you have issues when you Google “How to Stop Being a Jealous Cow” and “How to Feel Confident Again” and are confronted with a list of articles that are already highlighted in purple. It’s ground hog day and you have been here before.
You also know it’s a common and very human problem when multiple articles emerge. Articles by those who too have begun the perilous journey of self discovery and finding their inner zen. They too have consulted many a self-help website and positive quote Instagram page as they embark upon this challenging endeavour. (Filled rarely with moments of extreme inspiration and mostly with more self-deprecating thoughts.)
It’s embarrassing to admit that you have become an insecure and jealous person. This combination added with already existing chronic anxiety is not a pretty site. The word jealous actually makes me wince a bit (I mean, it’s really not very sexy is it?!) but in the last few years I have been feeding that old Jealous Monster multiple cupcakes and he is a pretty porky fellow of late. I suppose we all go through the usual ebbs of flows of life and feel more or less confident depending on what is going on at any given time, but when you reach the conclusion that you mostly feel insecure and jealous and not good enough it kind of sucks and at some point, after one tantrum or crying fest too many, you realise it’s time to face old Jellybelly head on. Especially when you were someone who once used to pride yourself (perhaps annoyingly so) on how confident and cool and collected you were.
The admission of insecurity and jealousy is pretty damn humiliating, but as part of my venture this year to “find myself” (lol,still undecided about this phrase) and reclaim a lot of the self esteem and security that I lost through career setbacks, broken (read : traumatising) relationships and general quarter life millennial crises, I have to be a little bit brave and admit and even embrace my insecurities – and the delightful flaws and tragic meltdowns that so gracefully accompany them.
Insecurity often manifests when we don’t feel good enough. It creates its little home amid those fears and gains monumental life force and nutrients from all the little moments that knock us down. When we aren’t feeling very good inside and our insecurity looms large, its even nastier friend Jealousy often pops in for a visit. Jealousy stems from the fear of loss. Fear of abandonment and ultimately, the fear of not being enough. It relies on comparison and critique and in a bid to cling on so tightly to what it is we fear losing, it often causes us to act in terrible ways and push away the very friends or opportunities we hoped to keep.
However, often when we feel scared or insecure or jealous, we act out, instead of just speaking our truth. In feeling shame about feeling all these self-defeating (and let’s face it, rather unattractive things) we act in even more unattractive ways. In trying to hide our shame around feeling inadequate, we often create even worse situations. So, perhaps my writing this is an attempt to take the “path with a heart” and to embody the brilliant work of Brene Brown, who speaks so effortlessly about vulnerability, shame and courage. True courage is about taking the path with a heart and “speaking the story of who you are with your whole heart.”
Brene Brown is a social worker who studies, among other things, human belonging and connectedness and in this particularly amazing Ted Talk entitled ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ she explores what makes people feel ‘worthy.’ She calls those who feel a sense of worthiness ‘whole-hearted people’ and argues that those who feel a deep sense of connectedness and worth have a few things in common, namely the courage to express their vulnerability.
Courage comes from the Latin word ‘cor’ and which in its original meaning translates to heart. Brown defines courage as being able to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart and as having the courage to be imperfect. As humans, she argues, our deepest fear is shame because we believe it will disconnect us from those around us and thus, isolate us from love. I loved the idea of ‘courage’ being the telling of one’s whole story openly and honestly. I also loved her notion that we need to let go of who we thought we should be, in order to be who we are and to practice authenticity. In authenticity (and thus in the telling of who we really are) she notes, we find genuine connection.
The second part of the talk explored vulnerability. Brown argues that those who are ‘whole-hearted’, embrace their vulnerability and believe that what makes them vulnerable also makes them beautiful. Different people defined vulnerability in different ways – the willingness to say ‘I love you’ first, the willingness to take a risk when there are no guarantees, the willingness to invest in relationships or ventures that may never work out. Vulnerability she says, is to allow ourselves to be “deeply seen”, to practice gratitude in moments of terror when there are no guarantees and to love with our whole hearts. She ends her talk by saying that we should feel grateful for that which makes us vulnerable, because to feel a deep sense of vulnerability means we are alive. It is our humanness at its very essence and occurs in the moments where we acknowledge all that we are and still love ourselves despite our supposed flaws. Lastly, she argues that whole-hearted people believe they are enough.
So, in my venture to become a “whole-hearted person”, my first goal is to speak the story of who I am. To express the bits that aren’t perfect, to admit to the moments when I have been down-right horrible because I didn’t feel very good inside, to acknowledge my insecurities and to embrace my vulnerability – rather than running away from it. I am scared as hell, but I am also curious and maybe even kind of excited. What life could we all live if we embraced our vulnerability? Took it in like an old friend? Held it, expressed it, spoke to it and of it. We need to stop berating ourselves for being human and instead, learn to love the messy bits too. In the last few months I have acted in some ways that I’m not proud of. Insecurity has reigned in relationships, it has hindered me from reaching for certain dreams and on the most part, has made me feel pretty damn miserable. So, because I don’t want my Google Search history to be a sea of purple self-help articles (and then no follow through) I’m going to try something simple. Speak my truth, embrace my shitty bits and tell the story of who I am with my whole heart.
If you have a spare moment and want to glean some inspiration whilst sipping on your morning coffee, I highly recommend watching this talk and would love to hear your thoughts?
Have you embraced vulnerability lately? If so, what did you do? Or what would you like to do?