The Myth of Putting On A Brave Face
Some of us have only a very faint knowledge of what is inside of us. We are not in touch with what we truly feel inside. We often ignore this feeling that they tend to be hazy if not hidden altogether.
For others, we do not want people to know how we feel because it makes us vulnerable. We think people can take advantage of us when they know what is deep down inside of us. Cultures have frowned upon showing vulnerability, especially when you are male. We are not allowed to cry as that is a sign of weakness, so we learned how to put on a brave face from an early age. We carry it as we grow up until we have a well-developed public persona that the world associates with who we are.
We think people around us expect us to do this. This stance is alright when we need to encourage others to go on bravely amid crisis. Yet, have we ever tried showing the vulnerable self inside us, the true feelings we have even if this means crying, breaking down in front of others, and crumpling down when faced with an unfortunate event?
Vulnerability takes courage. It is opening the wound that is within us. It enables others to hurt us. The Oxford Dictionary gives this definition of vulnerability: the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. Who wants to do this? This definition is contra what we know growing up, which is to be strong and ensure that others see our strengths. What if we change this framework? What if we look at vulnerability as power?
Here's a start to do that change. Below is Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability.
Brene Brown, in this video, tells us to move towards connection. She contends this is why we're here. But for her, this connection is the result of authenticity. It is the realization that what made us vulnerable is what makes us beautiful.
Yes, it is crucial to go into our inner selves and listen to how we feel. Slowly, we need to accept that it is so much a part of us. We don't numb it and go off shopping or binge eat. No, we face it. We ask ourselves, Where is this coming from? Whatever it is, digging further will only make us feel miserable. What helped me more is to accept the hurt, feel it and know it is part of me. I need to tend to it, not allow it to overwhelm me, but look into it and find out how to remedy it. Of course, the prerequisite is to accept and not deny it. Convincing ourselves that it is not something to be ashamed of, a part of us who has not grown with the rest of us is difficult but necessary.
You'll be surprised as I was that it no longer has power over me when I started sharing it with friends. I wrote about my experience, and when we were talking one time as a group, I shared that I write. My friends inquired further and asked if I could share some of my articles with them. I did, and I was surprised at their reaction. One friend told me she was on the two occasions I described there and never noticed how I felt. Since then, we became even closer as we shared our vulnerabilities and cared for each other more. There was greater authenticity in the caring.
It's time to open ourselves, be more faithful to how we feel and not be afraid or ashamed to share whoever we indeed are with our friends.
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