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The Power of Vulnerability

4.2.15 | By: Callie Smith

Happy Thursday Big Rock Yoga CommUNITY! I am sending each of you lots of good energy and love from Jordan! The past two weeks have been full of many adventures--big and small. I've floated in the Dead Sea, visited Wadi Rum desert, seen Petra, as well as plowed with a donkey, and hung clothes on a clothesline. Each day I wake up (and try to be) open for whatever comes my way. Being open requires a lot of vulnerability. Most of us like to avoid vulnerable situations because there's a risk for experiencing shame or embarrassment. I just finished reading Brene Brown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection, which discusses the idea of shame and how it affects our life. I was resistant to this book at first, because I thought "I don't need to read about shame, I don't feel shame." I've always thought about shame as being related to severe or scandalous events, but what I've discovered is that feelings of shame can occur at any time for all sorts of reasons. Brene Brown writes how she has identified when she is about to or is experiencing shame. She responds by feeling dizzy or crying. Being able to identify when shame strikes is helpful in learning how to proactively handle the emotion. I've been giving more awareness to the shift in my emotions and how I react/respond to shame. 

For example, last night, I was visiting several families. I was sitting with a group of women--there were probably 20-25 women sitting together of all ages. One of the older women in the room looked at me and pointed to the scarf on her head. She said something to me in Arabic, but I didn't understand what she was trying to say. One of girls sitting next to me translated that the older woman was asking me "Why do you not wear a scarf on your head?" All of the women in the room, who were each wearing scarves, looked at me. I responded that I didn't wear a scarf because "I don't want to." I felt my face growing red and hot. I was embarrassed by the question and by how I responded. I felt likeall of the eyes were judging me. Also, I felt like my response was rude. I felt the tears coming. I thought ,"Oh no, I can't cry now. Crying will only draw more attention to me." I breathed in and out slowly. I counted to ten over and over in my mind to avoid thinking more thoughts that might make me cry. I successfully avoided crying, and ended up enjoying the rest of my visit, but as soon as I got to the car, and back to the house where I am staying, I began to cry. I felt angry, defensive, embarrassed, and foolish. 
When I calmed down, I realized that I had experienced shame. The Gifts of Imperfection book was sitting beside me on the table. I started laughing when I realized that my feelings and reactions were just what I had read about in the book. I realized that I shouldn't feel embarrassed or ashamed of anything. The women who asked me the question where speaking from their perspective and what they know, just as I was speaking from my perspective and what I know. The women and I were not trying to attack each other, we were trying to understand each other. 
I hope that this Thursday finds you in a place of joy---and if it doesn't, and you happen to find yourself in a place of shame, don't worry--it's all going to ok. We may not can control our environment or circumstances, but we do have a choice about how we choose to interpret and respond. I want to remind all of us, myself included, that we have the power to choose how we feel--and that its ok and completely natural if sometimes we feel ashamed or embarrassed. We just can't let ourselves get stuck in negative places too long. Lets make our visits to negative places short, and chose to live in places of joy. 
All Good Things,