Stress. Ahhhh yes that word everyone is all too familiar with.
Don’t we all, at least at some point, feel like we have to have everything together? And I bet you know what I’m talking about too! Just go online and all you see are the Pinterest-perfect moms. An image of a mother who seems to just have everything together!
But that ish is hard. And stressful. And actually, it’s impossible.
It was actually during a retreat in college that I learned an important lesson about perfection. Our group leader was talking about facades, all the faces we put on. And to bring her point home, she had us actually put on a mask. But not just any mask. On the front of it, we had to write all the things we think we needed to be and then on the back, we wrote the things we feel and believe we really are. The kicker? We then had to share everything with the group – ALL the things we wrote down. Front AND back.
It was frightening. And so revealing. I mean, I didn’t want anyone to know that I wasn’t living up to the person I thought I was supposed to be. I didn’t want to be found out to be…a fraud!
Still, I played along and something remarkable happened. Instead of being ashamed, I felt embraced and accepted! I learned that it wasn’t so much what people had written on their masks that mattered. The power was in our vulnerability, in just allowing ourselves to be seen. And to be accepted, just as we were.
That’s where I learned that it’s OK to not be perfect.
It’s OK to not have it all together.
And it’s OK for people to see that.
Ok, so I started out saying this was going to be about stress, right? So how does vulnerability tie in and why is it so important for us to allow ourselves to feel that?
- It encourages other people.If you have this facade out there, making it seem that you are perfect and you have everything together, remember that people are watching you. They will be impressed, of course, BUT what they are going to pick up from that is perfection is the thing to be desired. When we allow people to see our imperfections, and that we are ok with it, that there are areas in our lives that we are struggling with and that we are ok with them sharing those things with us, then it makes other people feel that imperfection is a part of life. Vulnerability gives permission to others to be human too. And it is not something we should be ashamed of. It is something that makes us unique as a species and it helps us identify the parts of our lives that we have the opportunity to improve on.
- It allows you to accept yourself as you are. You can relax! Stop overthinking things and striving for that crazy level of perfection…that is never going to happen. Vulnerability is a beautiful tool to help us accept where our strength and weakness lies. The activity I did way back in college shows that imperfection is OK and that I am good enough, even with it. We can do the same for others too because we won’t be able to accept other people for who they are unless we learn how to do it to ourselves. So this cycle can bring about change to our environment. If you are able to accept yourself as you are then you’d be able to accept others too and this brings down expectation to everybody else around us which de-stresses us all.
- Did you know that 80% of fights that goes unresolved is simply because of the reason that we cannot admit that we were wrong? It stems from the feeling that we need to be right all the time. Remove that need, and all of a sudden, communication and conflict looks a whole lot different. Vulnerability allows us to admit that we made a mistake. But regardless, we are still loved and cared for by our spouse.
Are you willing to be a little more vulnerable today? Hey, you keep saying you’re sick of feeling stressed, right? Vulnerability might just be the solution you’ve been looking for.
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PS We also loved this article by Susanna Bair on the Huffington Post.