The Vulnerability Onion!
I love a metaphor, particularly a simple one.
Yesterday a client shared with me how she doesn’t feel comfortable sharing and talking about what’s going on with the people around her, even close friends. She felt a pressure that she should know what her thoughts are before she shares. She had a fear that if she shared it might come out wrong and make things worse. But actually she ‘knows’ that the opposite is true. By sharing she can speak, be heard, get another’s insight and develop her thoughts. By speaking earlier, things don’t build up and there’s less chance of it all going wrong.
Pressure and fear are emotionally driven.
Knowing that the opposite is true is consciously driven.
Your emotions are quick, unconscious and stronger than rationale thought. So we needed to get her emotions to understand what her conscious thinking already knows. And that means getting more comfortable and even embracing that vulnerability is good for us. It makes sense that vulnerability brings people closer but so many of us are on a secret mission to keep people out and not show our true selves.
So, the Onion.
Think of the middle rings of the onion as your deepest feelings, thoughts and experiences. The outer rings are your superficial thoughts and easy light conversation. Consider what subjects sit on which layers. Talking about the weather on the outside. Talking about your relationship worries, fears you’re failing and other deep feelings on the inside. Now imagine where different people in your life would sit on those onion rings. Are they gathered around the outer rings held in friendly chit chat but never getting beneath the surface. Who, if anyone do you allow near your inner rings.
Now, to shift. Play with mentally moving people or issues up or down a ring. Just one ring. Who do you trust to share a deeper conversation with and shift one ring inwards?
The idea is to be playful. Experiment with imagining then conversing with people up or down a ring at a time. You can always move them back a ring. You might just discover that relationships you already have can start to grow in depth and meaning, with more trust and support.
A gentle way to start to shift your unconscious perception on vulnerability.