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Is anyone else feeling more vulnerable these days? It is a tumultuous time for many - and in many different ways. For this reason I thought courage would be a good theme for this week's Question of the Week.

I also wanted to share a quote by Brené Brown. Her work around shame and vulnerability inspires me, and so I thought I would share some of her wisdom with you here:

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” Brené Brown (from Goodreads)

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Brené Brown (from Goodreads)

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Very appropriate topic and excellent quote Gillian. I feel both more vulnerable and more empowered. Staying at home with my husband and not working makes me feel vulnerable: I'm not making money, I'm not being a psychologist and helping people (which I'm realizing was a role I was too attached to and defined myself by), I'm having to sit still with myself, and I'm having to spend more quiet time with my husband.  In addition, I worried about the coronavirus, not so much for myself, but for my family and for all of those who have been infected and their families. I decided to take advantage of the time at home and enrolled in many online educational activities and trainings. I learned how to teach mindfulness skills to prisoners in Path to Freedom; I enrolled in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; I participated in numerous yoga and mindfulness seminars; I took a course on Chakras; studied Buddhism; read many books; wrote poems and added to a book that I've been writing. I invested in me, instead of investing in others, which was what I did for 13 years as a psychologist in private practice. What felt unnatural at first started to feel good. I noticed changes- an ability to stay present, increased patience, decreased "noise" in my head from eating disorder, increased satisfaction in relationships, better communication, more love to give. 

Watching George Floyd's murder left me feeling powerless and heartsick. Another moment of vulnerability, a terrible situation that I witnessed and couldn't stop, a horror that occurred in my own city. Then empowerment stepped in. I had previously joined HumanizeMyHoodie and became more active in helping the organization. I supported Black Lives Matter with a donation and by spreading materials. I read and studied American history- the real history. I immersed myself in Black literature and other cultural material. I spoke my mind to friends, family, and on social media. I shared resources. I celebrated the momentum of the protests and the subsequent changes across the country. I'm still celebrating, and I'm still an activist, a proud ally. 

What I've learned is that when I feel vulnerable, I need to speak up, tell my truth, own my feelings, and act on my values. I am empowered when I take action that aligns with who I truly am and what I believe in my heart. Even if that action puts me in a vulnerable position, I will be standing on a stage of power. 

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Beautiful reflection Jo. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so glad to hear you have taken this time to invest in yourself. What a wonderful way to meet the vulnerability and the unknown.

I also love your last sentence: "Even if that action puts me in a vulnerable position, I will be standing on a stage of power." This is a wonderful reminder because so often it feels easier to shy away from speaking our truth. The past couple of months have challenged me in this way as I've felt called to speak from my heart in new ways. It is scary, but I do believe this is how we grow. And even if we make a mistake, it's a part of the process.

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This morning, I'm sitting here before heading out to work, thinking - am I entering a depression? This low-hum has been sitting with me for a week or so - comes and goes - and creeps up when I have to voice my opinion or choice about something. Like Jo L, I took the time off from work (massage therapist - aspiring somatic exercise instructor) during the COVID shut down, to finish a meditation instructor course (I call myself a mentor instead of instructor because - I'll be learning for the rest of my lifetime), get a 200 hr yoga certification so that I can then take the 3-level somatic exercise instructor certification (which I need to save up for now that I'm working again), and had lots of time to enter into stillness, meditation, reflection ... and work on the "me" that I've been pushing aside for a long time so I could bring in more work.  I learned that I need to "make space" for doing what I need ... and since starting up work again, making time for that "space" has become challenging - choosing from giving time to clients - that I would normally take out for myself to work on the future of "me" and "my business" - and keeping my promise to myself to keep those times to myself (and/or my husband) - has left me feeling vulnerable, and weak, and like a failure.  Having a little self-compassion, and talking myself into realizing that I'm not failing, but instead, learning as I go along ... that is something new (which may be a result of all that free time to work on "me" during the shut down).  All the upheaval in our society, lately, also leaves me feeling vulnerable - for myself, my husband, and every person I see walking around in public these days.  One never knows when something is going to happen, and it is frightening to think about - and so - I stopped watching the news (but I hear about it from clients or friends or family) - I try to keep my mouth shut when people talk, especially with clients since they are paying for their time with me (but people ask my opinion or want me to tell them I agree with what they are saying) - and so I politely remind clients the time is theirs to talk or not talk, and I am there as a listener and not much else - or for family, I politely tell them it's too much for me to talk about without getting upset, and we change the conversation - because talking about opinions and feelings leaves us .... yup ... vulnerable....and I seem to feel it stronger than before... So - after all of this typing and reading of emails/posts - I can say ... maybe I am entering a depression, maybe I'm not voicing my feelings/thoughts & that is building up inside making me feel this way, but being aware of it, and acknowledging the "why" and understanding that other people are feeling the same way - that goes a long way with me, and helps me feel just slightly better ... so THANK YOU! Thank you for the topic, and thank you Jo L for your post in response to the email!  I am going to remember that we all need to make space for what we want/need to do for ourselves each day ... and I am going to make myself financially vulnerable by not filling those "me" times with clients ... after all, we can't get more financially vulnerable than we were in March/April/May .. and during these times of anguish, anger, frustration, and concern, being vulnerable enough to allow others to see it  and converse about it - may be a strength and may just bring us together if we allow it.  

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Dear Jules, I am sending you love and light. I hear you and know what it's like to be feeling that vulnerability and confusion about whether or not to open up about feelings when it feels sort of overwhelming. I find, however, that talking about and expressing myself is actually a relief, like letting air out of a balloon that is going to explode in my chest. When I am depressed, though, it's hard for me to talk because I shut down and simply don't have the energy or motivation to open up. Sometimes I can't even formulate my thoughts. I encourage you to share on this forum if that feels safe, like you just did. I hope you feel proud of yourself for taking that step- that is a demonstration of vulnerability. 

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Hello Jules,

Thank you so much for what you've shared with us. I can certainly relate to much of what you've written here. How have you been feeling in the day or two since posting?

One thing that came up for me while I was reading this was that balance between sharing our opinions/feelings and not - and how it can be hard to discern what is most authentically required in any moment. The other day my boyfriend and I were chatting and he brought up the fact that nowadays, we are all expected to have an opinion about everything. Often, I find myself truly opinionless, largely because I can see the needs/perspectives of two sides so clearly. So one act of self-care might sometimes be letting it be okay not to have an opinion, or to simply be still in a process of absorbing and processing information. Not sure if this makes sense or applies to what you're experiencing, but I thought I'd share it.

Also, it can be so hard to speak our truth sometimes. In the cases where we do feel strongly about something and are keeping it to ourselves as a way of contracting, expression of those feelings in a safe space could be quite helpful. Whether that is with a partner, a therapist, a close friend, or someone else, I am realizing it is very important to be honest with myself and to share that inner whisper where it feels safe enough to do so. Even journaling is a wonderful avenue for that!

But yes - self-compassion is key! This has been at the forefront of my practices lately. 

Anyways, I would love to hear how things have been going. 🌻

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oh YES!! Thank you Gilllian!  So many times when my clients or loved ones talk/discuss something (anything) that they are taking a side to, I am then asked if I agree .... I usually am left feeling like a deer in headlights because  - maybe I understand, but not necessarily "agree", and I often stumble over my words and sound like someone who needs to "just stop talking". I type that while laughing at myself.  And then there are times (a lot) I just "plain don't have anything to  say ... just don't know" -  or see both sides. I guess we can learn how to verbalize that without offending people or heightening their stance on a given topic? Also, maybe just "be still" and just be a sounding board for people to work out what they are saying vs what they are feeling?   There are also a lot of times (mostly when I haven't taken the time out for meditation, exercise in any form, or just time for stillness with a cup of tea) when I find myself getting upset internally or creating imaginary conversations in my head with people that are just formed out of fear - that turns into blame, etc .. THEN I remember that it is NOT reality, just a story that is getting away with itself in my head because I haven't faced it head on ... why?  Because then I'd make myself "vulnerable" to the reactions of the people I need to have safe/loving yet important conversations with... Thanks to this thread of posts I am going to keep reminding myself (and those who voice feeling this same way) that being vulnerable can lead to strength and growth ... it is a GOOD thing.  And time for meditation or just sitting quietly in contemplation is SO helpful!  To answer your question - Yes, I do feel somewhat better after writing the response yesterday. I have also opened up (and I did prior when starting to feel the "depression hum" down deep) talked a little more about it with my husband, who is easy to talk to - even if he forgets the entire conversation once it's over (hahahaha!).  We had a good conversation about all of the goings-on in the world (again) and how we are both feeling about it all ... maybe he might remember it this time - or not, and we'll talk about it again in a couple more weeks 😉 Thank you!  We are not alone - and it's uplifting to hear it from other people.  I'm also glad, for you, that you and your boyfriend are close enough to talk about life and other things together.  It definitely helps to feel supported (and sometimes challenged - in a good way).  

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Yes, learning to communicate more effectively is a practice, or an ever-evolving art form. I can resonate with that feeling of being pulled (even if subtly) to agree with a particular lens. I, too, can often understand but don't necessarily 'agree'. Even holding this non-judgmental stance requires courage as some might argue against it.

And taking the time to fill one's own cup is so important, whether that be through exercise, meditation, silent space, creativity, or anything else. So it is wonderful you are able to recognize how the lack of self-care is linked to unsettled thought patterns. I can definitely resonate 🙂

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@Gillian Sanger and @Jules  thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing. I even surprised myself the other day and just broke down crying very hard. I don’t remember crying like that for a very long time.  It happened and then my day went on.  Now I realize it was fear.  I do not feel I have fear for living daily. I feel it was because of so much dissonance in the world.  I felt much better afterwards. 
I have been pushing myself and know that it is not wise. So now I am limiting my contemplating and taking action as in fishing and walking much more and getting out where I can. I wonder if a person can meditate too much??    Once again trying to fit everything in I enjoy.  Limiting my computer time to almost none.  It bothers me to spend a whole day on the computer.    
I resonate with you both on remaining creative and my focus is self care this summer.     

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Hey Paige,

I can resonate with that feeling of fear and unsettledness at the state of the world. I really believe there is a collective energy that impacts all of us, and so this could be what you were picking up. I am glad you are focusing on self-care and taking things easy. I agree - spending a whole day on the computer is a lot. Happy to hear you are mindful of this and limiting that. I am working on this too 🙂

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