How do you get comfortable with vulnerability?

I had a realization today.  I have a difficult time making (allowing?) myself vulnerable.  That’s not the realization though.  The reason why I have a hard time with it is because it feels like someone then has power over me.  I’m not sure why it feels that way but, it does. 

Today, I allowed myself to be vulnerable with someone and, not surprisingly, I was hurt.  So, I started thinking about why I was hurt and ended up asking myself a lot of questions.  They were questions along the lines of:

  • Why does this hurt me?
  • Do I care about their opinion and, if so, how much?
  • How will I avoid this in the future?

That last question was the tip off there was something up.  As a PM I prided myself on mitigating risks.  I would think through all the scenarios and mitigate the hell out of them.  That’s great for a PM but, it’s not so great as a person.  I can’t avoid hurt.  It will happen.  Previously, I held the belief that I could avoid hurt by shutting out people who hurt me but, that isn’t an effective strategy unless I want to shut a lot of people out and I don’t.

Hurt happens when people you respect or love tell you something you don’t want to hear.  It happens when people you know, but may not respect so much, tell you something you don’t want to hear and don’t agree with.  That is, you don’t agree with it until you reflect on it some.  And that’s where the a-ha moment happened.

I am not comfortable with being vulnerable because of the risk of being hurt through facing something about myself.  If I don’t make myself vulnerable, I limit the learning.  I don’t have to accept the “gift” the giver is giving.  Maybe I should exchange it for something and that may not be what was offered at face value.  It could be the gift, the quick hurt, is a gift of reflection time to decide what to accept and what to discard on my journey of becoming a better person.

What does this have to do about being a Scrum Master?  It’s about learning and growing so you can help others learn and grow too – even when it’s incredibly uncomfortable and scary.

3 thoughts on “How do you get comfortable with vulnerability?

  1. Change. In itself often can push us into being quite uncomfortable. Even unstable in a situation. Some people are only comfortable with limits on change. A difference meant for the environment versus one forced upon ‘me’ and sense of self. A human’s capacity for change is not infinite. This would be sensory overload. I have seen people shut down and not only stop processing because they couldn’t keep up with the information. Some may even put blocking mechanisms to shut out any more sensory input.
    Change may be viewed as an attack, meant as one or not. Response to stimuli is natural. Within the context of communication however, there is an analogy I often use. Be like water. Fill the container you are in. The moment, the situation, the comment. Explore into it. Pour into it. Even when some feedback comes as surprising, and initially cut as a painful stabbing. If you visualize it however; a knife into water doesn’t cut, doesn’t damage. The water washes it as gently as any other thing. There is no pain, no scar left to the water- which reforms and seeks its level again. In agile the visibility we seek, could be akin to the clearness to the water. As with all agile – there is a very heavy burden to balance as appropriate. Visibility too, can sometimes be overboard. Feelings can be hurt. Which is why there is an art as well to giving criticism and feedback. A jab may have the intended response you want, but at what cost? How much disturbance? Some feedback can be taken in and absorbed, and some might make smaller ripples in comparison with larger priorities and situations. Rest assured though, there is some spark, some larger reservoir and unique talent that deep down everyone whom strives to improve. Exploring the hurt is an expression of developing a fearlessness and confidence with ourselves. .

    • Another amazing and thoughtful comment. I love the water analogy and will keep it top of mind. I’m a bit skeptical of this fearlessness and confidence you speak of….I just don’t know…

  2. Pingback: Be Like Water – A great insight from Ed Wehr | Adventures in Learning

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