Expose Yourself In Stages - Becoming vulnerable one strange(r) at a time
Would you like your relationships to be more honest?
Do you keep your dreams and ideas to yourself?
Do you worry over what others will think so much so that it stops you from doing what you really want to do?
Exposing yourself is scary. Revealing personal truths and experiences, letting your emotional guard down, and entering a commitment and risking love in a world where relationships seem fragile, are all similar to public speaking in that they invite the opportunity for rejection or abandonment. You’re vulnerable.
In 1997, I read Voice Lessons by Nancy Mairs. She writes, “If the very thought of taking off all your clothes in the middle of the Washington Mall during the middle of a school holiday makes you blush, you haven’t even begun to dream what it feels like to publish a book.”
At that time, I was attending college while working as an exotic dancer and writing about my own feelings and experiences within the strip club. It was scary for me to let others know what I was doing, so I chose a college on the opposite coast from California where I lived, and I went there only a few times a year for my residency then worked independently at home. Much in the same way I removed one article of clothing at a time while a dancer, I discarded the secrecy of what I was doing for a living one small experience at a time to small groups of people at a time.
It’s important to speak your feelings, thoughts and desires so you can sort through them and help liberate and empower others, but I recommend removing one layer of psychic protection at a time. Don’t do it all at once. Doing it in stages is a way to help you get metaphorically comfortable with being in the spotlight with your truth. You’ll gain courage and confidence and become more clear in increments that can be sustained.
- Test your idea out with someone impartial who you know won’t criticize. If there’s no one close, talk to a stranger. (This may sound odd, but you are with strangers, more than likely, every day. I used to strike up conversations at concerts, waiting in line at the grocery store, etc. Join an on-line group where you can be anonymous.)
- Speak again to another impartial person whom you trust. (Repetition builds that self-disclosure muscle.)
- Search out activities and venues that invite and nurture your ideas. (You’ll find like-minded people who will support you.)
- Take a small, one very small, action at a time to manifest your ideas/dreams. (Action is the only antidote to the pain of unrealized dreams, unspoken words and cultivating trust in oneself.)
- Have patience with yourself and give yourself time. (Speaking up will feel awkward and strange, but with the gift of time, you will become more comfortable.)
You may not want to literally get naked in front of strangers like I did, but realize that exposing your inner self is the only way to really let go of limiting beliefs and prejudices. When you do this, you not only liberate and empower yourself but you also help others release inhibitions and give them permission to be vulnerable. By doing this, they’ll love and respect you that much more. And you'll feel that much more courageous and confident to tackle the next hurdle you've been avoiding. Like asking for what you want in your relationship or going for your dreams!