How to Be Messy AND Happy — Tip #3
Here comes the third and final post in this series. We’re gonna jump right into it, so if you haven’t already seen Tips #1 and #2, go check them out now.
Fair warning, this one requires the most courage of all...
Lean into vulnerability when you want to the least.
Here’s what I mean. The next time you become aware of feeling vulnerable or emotionally exposed, instead of trying to play it cool, you’re going to acknowledge it with openness and honesty (and without judgment.)
Okay, but like, why is vulnerability so important?
In her powerful (and hilarious) book Daring Greatly, renown author and researcher Brené Brown writes, “vulnerability is … the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave.” She goes on to say, "vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity."
In other words, vulnerability is a requirement if you want to have the full human experience. When we avoid vulnerability, we’re playing small by staying in our comfort zone.
Comfort is a slow death.
(Woah, that was kind of intense. But true.)
The only way you’ve ever grown was through enduring temporary discomfort. And — lucky you! — the universe gives us lots of opportunities to flex our vulnerability muscles. These tiny tears of awkwardness are just a sign of the immense emotional strength you’re building.
There are countless situations that can make us feel vulnerable:
Trying something new
Giving someone a compliment
Receiving help when we think we “should” do it ourselves
Intimacy is a big one — anything from eye contact, to hugging, to sex
Today we’re going to talk about the kind of vulnerability that comes after we realize we’ve made a mess. Especially one that negatively affects someone else.
Perhaps you’ve just been called out for making a mistake and your first reaction is to explain why it happened. Or, perhaps no one calls it out, but you know that you’ve made a mistake and others are feeling it. It’s like the elephant in the room, but to acknowledge it would feel incredibly vulnerable.
These are the times when we’re tempted to either get defensive or stay silent. It can feel almost impossible to summon the courage to speak from a place of grounded truth.
But you’re a badass. You can do anything. So, you’re going to try something new.
The next time you’re a messy human who makes a mess, you’re going to:
Acknowledge it by clearly stating what happened. No judgments. Just the facts.
Forgive yourself. Don’t play the shame game. Don’t argue with reality by thinking “I shouldn’t have,” or “if only I’d done _ instead.” You should have, because you did. Trust that it was meant to be, even if you can’t see why yet. Ask yourself, what’s the gift or lesson here? How can this experience change me for the better?
If you know you hurt someone, regardless of whether it was intentional, apologize. (Nope, apologizing is NOT weak. It doesn’t make you wrong. That’s just your ego, baby.)
Speak to the other person’s experience and offer them some empathy and validation around how they’re feeling. For instance, “I can see how frustrating this is, and you have every right to feel that way.” You don’t have to agree with someone to acknowledge their experience.
Most importantly, remember that you’re not alone.
If I’m being really honest with myself, I unconsciously avoid this type of vulnerability ALL the time.
Most of us do. Either we look for ways to justify what we did, or we emotionally flog ourselves by over-apologizing. We default to one extreme or the other.
When you break it down, these extremes are just different ways of achieving the same goal: to stop feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable as quickly as possible. By rationalizing and defending a mess we made, we’re letting ourselves off the hook. By groveling and seeking forgiveness, we’re trying to get someone else to let us off the hook. Both are ego-based avoidance strategies. We’re resisting the mess.
It’s not about never getting messy. You’ve made many mistakes before, and I promise you’ll make many more. We all will. It’s about being courageous enough to lean into the feelings around your messiness and accept them as they are.
The more we practice acceptance of the mess and the vulnerability that comes with it, the quicker we can enjoy the really good stuff — love, joy, peace, creativity, and all those things that make us happy.
Messy + happy for life,