One of the most empowering experiences I ever had was meeting a new man I later ended up dating for a couple of years, on a day when I wasn’t wearing any makeup at all. A little unsettling at first, it made a deep and profound impression on me, boosting my self confidence and esteem, because it really confirmed that he was interested in me, who I was inside, not just my appearance. I got it.
19. If it’s hard for you to initiate sex with your partner, put on something sexy and do it anyway, even as “an experiment”. You might be surprised at the response you get!
20. Stay Present. See if you can catch yourself when you find yourself starting to slip into numbness or close down. What’s triggering you? See if you can shift your focus into your body, your heart, stick with the feeling underneath long enough to identify it. Be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling at that moment and try to flow the feeling instead of shutting it down. See what happens.
21. Don’t just try to be “positive.” This isn’t about focusing only on the positive, because the core of this issue isn’t positive or comfortable. That’s the point. We resist difficult emotions like shame and fear, yet unless we acknowledge, breathe with and embrace them, they will continue to haunt and control us.
22. Stretch to expand beyond your comfort zone. Remember that though we are living in a world of fear and skepticism, if we really want to experience the fullness of love, we have to stretch and expand ourselves, expand our perspective and embrace all emotions, even the hard, painful ones. It’s the resistance to them that makes it painful, shuts us down, and squeezes vulnerability out.
23. Try being with your pain instead of numbing it with distraction, medication or booze. It’s the resistance to the pain that makes it worse. And keeps it revolving. Feel it, let it flow. Appreciate that it’s really just energy trying to get your attention and acceptance. It will pass, if you let it flow and let it go.
24. Have compassion for yourself. And your partner, as you feel, expand and own what is happening. It may feel uncomfortable at first, sort of like exercising unused muscles. But hang in there and remember what you want. It will become easier. And it may just open up things.
25. Men really love to be strong and save the day. Being open and vulnerable, taking a risk to ask for what you need, to ask for help, to show yourself, magically draws out and inspires your man to rise to the occasion. Okay, you know what I mean here…
Finally, Dr. Brené Brown has the following advice about nurturing vulnerability:
26. Be authentic and real. If you screw up, admit it. If you don’t know, say so. If you feel something, express it. If you love someone, say so.
27. Let yourself be seen, deeply seen. Suspend your belief and expand your sense of trust.
28. Love with your whole heart even though there is no guarantee that you won’t be hurt in the process.
29. Practice gratitude and joy, especially in those moments of terror when it seems like your life hangs in the balance.
30. Believe that you are enough. When you work from a place of “I am enough,” then you can be more confident, kinder and gentler with yourself and kinder, gentler, and more open and vulnerable to those you love.
And finally, I couldn’t help but include lyrics from an old Seals and Croft hit from the 70’s: Get Closer. “ Darlin’, If you want me to be closer to you, get closer to me. If you want me to love only you , then love only me…”.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our
lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not
nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy— the
experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave
enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
― Brené Brown