The gift of vulnerability

How can you show vulnerability and inspire or motivate people at the same time?

It’s easy because the two are not mutually exclusive.

If you are undeterred by the challenges in your life and you use them to become a stronger, wiser, and better person as a result, that’s inspiring whether you ultimately overcome a challenge or not.

The best people in the world are not those who pretend they have no flaws. They are the people who are genuine and brave enough to admit that they have flaws and strive to overcome them. They act with authenticity.

Heroes aren’t perfect.

They all have vulnerabilities. They come in all sizes. And they come from all walks of life.

And if you face the challenges in your life and try to set a good example, you may just be someone’s hero and not even know it.

So keep on keeping on.

Related:

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Social anxiety

Yes. Social anxiety sucks. And if you suffer from it, you are definitely not alone.

Just saying.

[And trying to explain it to people — or what triggers it or why you get it in some situations and not others — also sucks.

Because it doesn’t always even make sense to the person who suffers from it.

And our friends don’t see it because we often don’t get anxiety with them.

“I’m shy.”
“You are so not shy.”
“Well, not with you, no.”]

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A breach of bonds

This is a follow-up to my previous post:Quit crying…

As a child, the only way you could get me to talk to my father figure(s) was by forcing me to.

It wasn’t valued enough by the father figure(s) to ever be corrected in my youth.

And as an adult, the precedent was set.

As a child I was quiet and shy. As an adult, not so much. But it took work.

But even today, I still have major anxiety approaching strangers without a specific reason or answering the phone for unexpected calls.

We all have our stuff. I’m no different.

I’m confident and comfortable being on live television or public speaking, but try to get me to approach someone for the sole intent of meeting them… that’s often my Kryptonite (still working on it).

In contrast, I don’t mind being approached. I enjoy it — unless you have no social grace. I’m an “introverted extrovert”. Some people will understand what that means immediately. Others don’t.

I share this (as a follow-up to my previous post “Quit crying…” post) because if you create an environment where your children fear you — or are uncomfortable showing their emotions — or simply uncomfortable having a conversation with you, you’re likely not doing it with either of your best interest in mind.

And by the time you realize it and say, “You know you can talk to me, right?” it might be too late.

Your actions speak louder than words. And while children may not always remember what you said, they will remember how you made them feel. (*hat tip to Maya Angelou).

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

“Quit crying…”

When parents tell their kids to “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” I always want to offer suggestions…

“Old Yeller!”
“The Iron Giant”
“Forrest Gump when he asks if ‘he’s like me‘”

And sometimes I just want to say that parents aggressively threatening crying children as a way coerce them into not crying rates pretty high on my list of things to cry about.

There’s nothing kind or loving about it.

[This expression and the emotional invalidation that goes along with it (and expressions like it) has been shown to have adverse affects on people’s emotional development into adulthood.]

From the comments: (compiled & condensed)

“But kids use crying as a way to manipulate adults.”

First, I hesitate talking about parenting, because I am not a parent. If you think that invalidates what I have to say — fair enough — read no further.

But as a victim of child abuse and a pretty volatile upbringing, I remember what it was like to be that child.

While it’s true that children use crying as a way to manipulate adults, children’s behavior is reinforced by adults as the behavior develops.

But that actually has little to do with what prompted my post. My point, that I didn’t so clearly make, is that there is likely an equally effective or more effective way to elicit the type of behavior you want from a child that doesn’t involve speaking to them in a tone most parents wouldn’t use with a family pet with words that seem more appropriate in a prison setting.

Quit crying or I’m going to make you cry. I’m going to hurt you.

That is the essence of this threat.

I’m not suggesting it’s an instant fix. But I am suggesting the fix has more to do with parenting than it does with being a kid.

Yes, children act out and throw fits. And whatever a child wants at any particular moment is often the most important thing in the world — so when they don’t get it, they explode (but exploding is also another learned behavior).

I see so many public scenes and outbursts that develop over minutes because a parent isn’t really listening or paying attention to their child. They’re just going through the motions. They aren’t connecting with their kid or anticipating issues. And the issues they don’t anticipate are often the same issues they haven’t learned how to deal with effectively (for all parties).

So as many parents tune out their children, they miss important clues into a child’s mental state. And suddenly there is an outburst. And crying. And so it’s the reflexive, “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

It is not the attempt at trying to resolve the issue that concerns me — which I hope is obvious. It’s the aggressiveness and threatening nature of the phrase “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” that I have an issue with.

Because there are better, less aggressive, less threatening ways.

This expression and the emotional invalidation that goes along with it (and expressions like it) has been shown to have adverse affects on people’s emotional development into adulthood.

I’m sure one time won’t do it. But then, parents who think it’s effective will continue to use it as a parenting tool without bothering to look for other solutions. So it’s rarely a one-time event.

Setting your children up to fear you is asking for issues. Feeling loved and having trust in your caregivers is important. And many children remember things well into adulthood and beyond.

Sometimes parents forget that.

Some parents don’t realize what a huge loss that is if their child no longer feels comfortable coming to them when they have issues. Some don’t even realize they are not someone their children comes to for support because their children never have. Because they learned it was safest not to.

“Quit your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

A tonal shift

If you’ve sensed a slight shift in tone of some of my posts lately, I can explain why thusly (off the top of my head, so paraphrasing):

I don’t always enjoy sticking my neck out, showing vulnerability, or openly challenging people or their beliefs, but when I do, it’s because I want to grow and learn from the experience as much as I want to help people grow and learn from the experience.

And finally, one of my favorite quotes…

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve gotten.”

Writing about stuff you _think_ is one thing. Writing about stuff you _experience_ is another.

I prefer real-life experience and the lessons it provides over relying entirely on theories, quotes, and folk tales.

Beyond things that are simply common sense, if you don’t try something that’s new for you, and simply rely on other people’s results, how will you ever discover if their results and their conclusions are in line with your own?

No two people who share an experience will ever describe it in exactly the same way.

It’s good to take risks (within reason) and try new things.

If that’s not a vital part of living a well rounded life leading to personal growth, I don’t know what is.

*And if you’ve ever taken something I’ve written about personally, it isn’t.

The only people I’ve specifically written posts for are my family (a few they’ve never acknowledged) and my unborn children (many).

And someone I wanted to help through their depression. And another I didn’t want to be so hard on themselves.

Related:

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Saving the Planet

“Use the hashtag SaveThePlanet to help save the planet!”

OMG you guys! Who knew that saving the planet was so easy!?

Why aren’t you doing this, guys!?

Guys? Guys? Guys? The planet!

We gotta save the planet!

Use the hashtag, guys!

Save the planet! Save the planet!

SaveTheDamnPlanet!

*Pretty sure likes and hashtags are going to have no noticeable impact on the planet. All that relying on them does is give someone the false belief they’ve actually done something.

“Welp, I used the hashtag SaveThePlanet today. I’ve done my part! Looks like my job here is done.”

This isn’t activism.

If you want to make a difference, develop good habits that represent your beliefs, be thoughtful of your environment, educate yourself on the cause(s) you wish to support, help educate others if you so desire, and take action to support those causes.

If it feels a little too easy and like you didn’t actually do anything, you probably didn’t.

Take action. Be the change.

Don’t rely on likes and hashtags to do it for you.

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