Last week I explored some of Brene’ Brown’s work around vulnerability and wholeheartedness as they relate to change and transition.
According to Brown’s research, there are four elements that contributed to the wholehearted person; courage to accept ourselves and our vulnerability, compassion for ourselves and the ability to recognize our needs, connection with others, which is created through authenticity and the willingness to be vulnerable with others, and embracing our vulnerability, or to fully step-into it, living with the belief that when we accept our vulnerability, we also are welcoming the full range of emotions that life has to offer.
Digging into Dr. Brown’s work was quite a learning experience for me, as I, like many, have struggled to find that place of full vulnerability. I’ve numbed some of those challenging emotions brought forth during my transitions to various changes, and, as a result, I also missed out on some of the stronger positive emotions as well as the benefits being fully present had to offer.
Shhh...I think I've spotted an elephant!
In thinking more deeply about my own transition to change, and what I’ve seen in the transitions of others, it occurred to me that there may be an undiscussable lurking in the midst, a big elephant in the room of our personal experiences to change.
Sure, there are a lot of resources out there to help walk us through a variety of changes, and more and more are sprouting up around how to work through those times when we’re challenged in our transition to a difficult change.
But I still see a wide-spread belief that it’s best to keep the more personal challenges to ourselves, and to work through those things alone.
To some extent, it's true. There is a personal side of change that we each must experience on our own, because each of us perceives our changes differently, and adjust to our changes in different ways and at different speeds. Yet even though we experience these things differently, does this necessarily mean that it has to be isolating?
The isolating group experience.
I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in group-oriented approaches to learning a new skill or habit, changing our behavior in some way, shape or form, in the online arena. These often include both educational materials such as a weekly webinar or call, with an online support forum of some kind, designed to help us work through difficulties and minimize that sense of isolation we are all susceptible to when undertaking significant changes.
Such groups might be very helpful to some, and the intention behind them is good, but I have personally found that they lack depth of connection, and have struggled to show my vulnerability in those groups where the norm seems to be to exude confidence and success. Where creating safe and supportive places for authentic conversations seems to be overshadowed by self-promotion, playing the expert, and reinforcing the group norms.
Of course I’m happy if the majority of people within a given group or forum truly are experiencing great success with limited setbacks, if that’s really what’s happening within the larger group. But it makes me wonder if it’s just a facade, a way to let everyone think that all is fine, while we struggle behind the scenes trying to figure it all out on our own.
Minding the gap.
I bring this up, because as I think about the gap between how we present ourselves to others and how we perceive ourselves and our true experiences, I wonder if we’ve been conditioned to compare our experiences to others, to hide what is different or unique, and to create a false reality that masks our ability to:
These are the things that I plan to touch-upon in this week’s posts. I believe that noticing the distinction between our external and internal connections to change can be very helpful in our transition, and will highlight several areas where I see our unchecked internalization showing up in how we present ourselves to others.
I should mention at this point that these are ideas I am playing with and thought might be fun to share with you as I explore them further. They are based on observations, not research, and are still in development.
Coming up tomorrow, a closer look at how we connect externally and internally to our change, how they inform and influence each other, and how they contribute to how we show up in our change.
Share your thoughts.
In the mean time, do you believe there are social stigmas around sharing our vulnerability around personal challenges during change, or do you think it’s best to keep that stuff to ourselves? Share your perspective and let’s have a conversation!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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