20 – Vulnerabil… I don’t want to talk about it actually.

This is the most watched TED talk… ever. If you have never watched it, you should. If you have already watched it, watch it again now.

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Growing up in Britain as a man generally teaches us that vulnerability is weakness, that having emotions and feelings is frowned upon. This is not breaking news. This is not getting me any sociology awards. But it is true. It’s true and there’s not a lot we could have done about it, because even though we knew about it and we saw videos and blogs about how detrimental it is to relationships and development etc, we didn’t have it properly modelled ourselves. That is where the best learning comes from, having generations before teach us, but in this case, the generations before us passed on a negative perception of emotions. I think I accidentally bypassed the social norms though. I think I am more open than most guys I know. Maybe it has come from hanging out with the Tuesday morning lads.

I still think there is space to be more vulnerable though. For me, the main place was probably within my marriage. Helen and I have been through a few tough times like most relationships have. My instant reaction is to be a fixer. I want to make all the problems disappear. By doing this though, I think I am good at hiding how I really feel for the greater good. Often, I don’t know how I really feel. Doing the silence for 30 mins challenge really enabled me to work out how I was feeling in those times. It was a really good challenge for me to have time to untangle certain thoughts etc without distractions of life getting in the way. This is probably why I then went onto do this challenge, because once I figured out how I felt, I was able to be more open with myself and therefore Helen about how I feel. So I used this week to open up more to her and actually, it has been amazing for our relationship. We have been able to really connect more and more and it came from being vulnerable.

Yeah, you might say thats what it should be like anyway, and I agree with you. But it wasn’t, so it was really good for me to go through this process and without doing the other challenge, I probably wouldn’t have got there because I needed to work out what I actually think. Even though I was already open, I didn’t fully know what I thought first. Maybe that’s an important part to all of this – allowing yourself to really be honest with yourself and then open up to people you trust about it. I don’t know, I’m still working it out, but this week was really cool for me and hopefully will have ongoing positive effects.

I also think it’s why I like meeting with all the people I do in the mornings (as explained in a previous challenge), because we’ve learnt to be honest and open as men together. We sometimes get stick from the staff in Nero on a Tuesday morning because of the way we are with each other. I think they are secretly intrigued as to why we are so close though. It’s been really good for my mental health too, not that I had any symptoms to be wary of, just that once I have these connections, I believe I am able to experience not only my own joy, but theirs too. And they share in the tough times too which probably dilutes my anxieties.

These are only my experiences, and they all seem to be pretty good. You may have been heavily stung in the past or not know who to be vulnerable with. I’m afraid I can’t offer anything there but I would say, people are more open to it than you think and need it as much as you… you may just need to take a jump.


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