The power of vulnerability
Don’t we all suffer from a constant urge to compare ourselves to others?
Can’t we just let go of this?
Just how authentic are we, anyway? Aren’t we all constantly trying to put together the perfect picture of ourselves and our own life? As if only perfection matters. But what does perfection mean? Isn’t that by definition always beyond our reach? So how can we remain faithful to ourselves, in all that we do?
Comparing yourself to others can be motivating: it gives you just that extra little nudge to step outside your comfort zone, and to actually go for that exciting new plan. Or to go that extra mile. But if you continue to compare yourself to others, then you’ll always feel that you’re not good enough, not successful enough, or that you never have enough time.
It can be a never-ending story, which rarely translates into positive energy. Brené Brown points out that by comparing ourselves to others, we are exposing ourselves to experiencing shame. Shame arises from a lack of self-esteem, and it undermines us.
The grass is always…
We ceaselessly test our reality against visions of perfection or against our own idea of how great other people are doing. Why is it that we always think in terms of ‘deficiency’? In that way you will always continue to struggle with yourself, with your business, with being a parent, and so on. Naturally! Because in this way you will never feel like you’re good enough.
It is a cloud that we cast over our own life, which depresses us and which keeps us smaller than we would like to be. And if we beat ourselves on the chest then it may look like we’re trying to intimidate others, but that’s just appearances; in fact we are drumming up courage, because we feel so small.
It is unfortunate how we have learnt to not show any vulnerability. We often think that we need to be able to do something, before even having tried. What Brené Brown suggests we do, is to build up our shame resilience. We can do so by telling each other about our shame and by giving our empathy free rein. Empathy towards others, but also towards yourself.
You may have done something wrong, but that doesn’t make you wrong.
Vulnerability means insecurity, taking risks, and emotional exposure. For as long as you live and have relationships with others, you will be vulnerable. You are always going to get knocked about in the arena, but if we keep waiting until we are sufficiently perfect or invincible, then we will lose valuable time and allow our talents to wither.
Vulnerability is not a matter of winning or losing, but of acknowledging that both are part of life, and to nevertheless dive in, head first.
Letting go of the tendency to always compare yourself to others is not something you can simply tick off on your To-do list. For most people, it is something that continually requires attention. All too easily we are diverted from our own path, to look instead at what others are doing and whether they’re ahead of us or behind.
Authentic living and working is a daily exercise in letting go of who we think we ought to be, and to value the person we actually are. It’s about choosing to act, to speak and to live according to what you find important. And to not let your choices be influenced by what you think others think of you. Stop the comparison game, and notions of ‘ahead’ and ‘behind’, ‘better’ and ‘worse’ will become meaningless.
- Choose to be authentic; stop worrying about what others think.
- Increase your self-compassion; let go of your perfectionism.
- Develop more resilience; let go of self-numbing and impotence.
- Cultivate gratitude and happiness; let go of your sense of lack and your fear of the dark.
- Trust your intuition and dare to believe; let go of your need for certainty.
- Let your creativity blossom; stop comparing yourself to others.
- Take the time to play and to relax; let go of exhaustion as status symbol and of productivity as the measure of self-esteem.
- Allow peace and quiet into your life; let go of stress as a lifestyle.
- Aim to do meaningful work; let go of your insecurity and your ideas on what you ought to do.
- Laugh, sing and dance; let go of the idea that you should always be in control of yourself and should always ‘act normal’.