I want to share with you how vulnerability, shame and courage showed up for me today.

When we choose to authentically show up in our lives, connect with others, and strive to become our best possible selves we can often feel vulnerability, self-doubt and shame.  These feelings often overwhelm and paralyse us and take real courage to move through.

So today I set out to write a blog about how vulnerability, shame and courage shows up for me.  Typing the heading was about as far as I got before that uneasy sense of vulnerability surfaced and I began swimming around in my own feelings of self-doubt, shame and self-criticism. Ah the irony.

I knew I was in trouble when the overwhelming urge to clean up my emails and vacuum my office hit.  Avoidance is one of my first go to activities when I feel uncertain.  As the morning ticked by my thoughts shifted from being excited and hopeful to self-critical, “You’re talking too much about yourself Ariadne.  I can’t do this, I don’t know what to put in or leave out. No one’s going to read it anyway.”  Whilst I’m less self-critical now than I was 20 years ago, every time I try new and exciting things which stretch me, she shows up again. Damn it.

After an hour or so, there was that familiar knot in my stomach and a sense that someone was sitting on my chest.  My breathing was shallow, my mind couldn’t focus on anything and I was flicking between tasks like my 6 year old on a sugar high.  Based on many past experiences, I knew I needed to take action now!

The first thing I did was reach out and connect with a trusted friend, a person who had earned the right to hear my story.  What do I mean by that?  This is someone who has proven herself worthy of hearing how vulnerable I feel at times.  She listens instead of trying to fix me, she creates a safe space for me to share my dreams and my fears and she gives great advice when I’ve had an attack of “The Wobbles”.  When I talk with her I feel validated and normal, which enables me to reconnect to my courage and keep going.  So of course she was busy.

Fortunately, over the years I’ve cultivated a tribe of such trusted friends, for just such occasions.  So I called another.  I was able to let her know how self-doubt and shame were showing up for me today and really getting me stuck.  Knowing and recognising I was spinning into a paralysis of self-doubt and shame combined with talking to my trusted friends helped remind me of my purpose, strengths and courage.  I was able to find my stride again and finish this blog.  So, how does vulnerability and shame get in the way of you living with confidence and authenticity? What do you do that helps you show up in your life with authenticity and courage? Who helps you show up in your life with authenticity and courage?

Ariadne Lack is a Wellbeing & Resilience Psychologist.  She has conversations with people and groups which help them harness their strengths, find their voice, life and work with confidence and authenticity. Find her at http://www.humanendeavours.com.au/ or email her on [email protected]