Whatever will they think of me?

I’ll begin with a true story. When I was about 16 years of age I went round all the shops I could think of in Stratford-Upon-Avon asking for a summer holiday job. I landed myself a job in the kitchens of a café and came home excited to tell the news. My mother was furious: “You’ve been round town begging for work. What will people think?” So as you can see, I was trained at an early age to second guess what others might think and portray a spotless image of myself. Being vulnerable, showing weakness or needs was simply not an option. Apparently. Though I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on you!

This audio is inspired in part by that story. I’m going to talk about the counter-intuitive idea that making ourselves vulnerable can help us to achieve what we want—whether it’s about improving a relationship, our work goals, or a hobby or sport.

If we’ve come through trauma or highly charged negative experiences we may feel that vulnerability is a constant companion. We may believe that people can wound us at any time; and therefore we spend our lives avoiding vulnerability.

In the audio I talk about some of the ways we feel vulnerable, and I offer some antidotes in the belief that our life experiences help us to draw on inner courage.

Highlights of the audio:
  • Ask for what you want and find your voice
  • Don’t be afraid of being ridiculed or ignored: it’s easy to believe that people out there are going to feel bad about us when we’ve experienced rejection and loss of control in the past
  • Understand that other’s reactions are about them and “their stuff”
  • Recognise that media and social norming put a huge amount of pressure on us to conform and “look the part” or to be an overnight success

Some solutions

  • Practice finding your voice by asking for small things that don’t matter, or taking small risks
  • Stop being so self referential—you’re much harder on yourself than on others
  • Remember that when you’ve announced publicly or disclosed to a few friends that you’re embarking on a grand scheme you always have the right to change your mind
  • You have a right to fail (and of course, try again!)
What is your experience of vulnerability?
Will you risk being vulnerable in the future?


PS the picture is taken at Chatsworth Park, July 2009