Updated: Feb 26
Welcome to Charlie’s Toolbox. Last week I received so many wonderful responses to my first episode. I am so glad you loved it. If you are interested in hearing more, don’t forget to subscribe and sign up for my newsletter on charliestoolbox.com. Every other week, I send out an article to help you along this journey.
Before I get started. I want briefly discuss my mission so you understand what you are getting out of it.
I made this podcast because I realized the older generation failed us. I remember watching Iyanla a while ago and she said something that really resonated with me. She stated that Gen X and older are a part of the silent generation. Meaning, they were taught to take everything to the grave. Or they were taught to hide and fill themselves with so much shame and guilt.
This made them never really tell the truth about their life. They didn’t tell us about the lessons they learned. They didn’t tell us about how they found themselves or if they found themselves. They didn’t tell us what growth looks like. They didn’t tell us what resilience is. All they knew which was to not get pregnant and live your life-but that’s not enough. That advice is not nearly enough. So, I am doing what they failed to do. I am using my experience, my foremothers experience, my friends’ lessons, and research to provide tools to strategize for some of these life hurdles. If the tools resonate, take them. If they don’t, ignore them.
So, let’s get started with this this episode.
Its Titled Planning for Vulnerability And learning to trust yourself
A while ago I was confronted and someone told me that I struggle with vulnerability and that person wasn’t lying, I do struggle with it. I do not like to be vulnerable. I’m often not vulnerable. I was one of those people who you would feel very connected to but know nothing about and I liked it that way. But I realized it was costing me a lot. It was costing me deep connections and sisterly bonds. I wasn’t allowing myself to love or be loved properly. I would meet wonderful people, but it wouldn’t go beyond surface level. So, I had to teach myself to trust myself & learn how to be vulnerable & I will teach you some tools I learned along the way.
This ep is for…..people who struggled with trusting themselves after a difficult breakup. Those who experience a traumatic heartbreak often forego vulnerability because they suspect vulnerability is the cause of their immense pain.
It is for Children of terrible caretakers, where they want to be vulnerable but struggle because they never felt safe nor had a space where they knew they were loved unconditionally.
When you decide to be vulnerable you should plan like you do everything else. This plan helps you understand yourself. It helps you define your boundaries. It also helps you define your markers of success.
So how do you plan for vulnerability:
· You understand pain with a proper framework
· You understand the source of your pain
· You understand vulnerability
· You know when and what to share?
· what to keep to yourself?
· Finally, how to erect firm boundaries.
Pain is inevitable. It is essential like air. It is what make the sweet moments sweeter. It also informs you on what you need to work on.
What prolongs emotional pain according to Dr. Steven Stosny are, “repetitive memories, which, ironically, evolved to keep us safe in the future.” It is an evolutionary trait; however, misused it causes immense pain.
What I mean by misused is when you are constantly looking at the past to find new ways to be upset with yourself-you’ve mis used it. If you are looking at the past to make yourself wrong, bad, or asinine- you are misusing it. When you’ve used your idle time to replay the past to make yourself feel the same way you felt in that moment- you’ve mis-used it. There are better ways to understand your past, be vulnerable, and still feel protected.
Your past and pain
Your past is a moment. When you look back, you do so for direction. You see where you were flexible with your boundaries. You see where you may have overlooked red flags. You ask yourself what made me bypass that? Was it loneliness? Was I trying to prove my worthiness? Meaning if this person liked me, then it meant something good about me. Was I trying to rewrite the story my caretakers gave me? The story of me being bad, ungrateful, unworthy, or useless? Am I trying to rewrite their story through my actions? Meaning, if my mother was a single mother, I am hurriedly and anxiously tying not to be? Was I trying to achieve certain life goals to make everyone comfortable? Meaning, if you were married by now your friend and family would not be concerned for you. Did you truly believe this was the only opportunity for romantic love? Meaning, out of several billion people you truly believed you had one shot with this person who offered nothing? Or you all were incompatible? Ask yourself what are you doing with your pain? Are you weaponizing it against yourself as proof you deserve the shit end of the stick? Pain always points, so look at where it is pointing towards, grieve, and construct a boundary.
Next, understand the purpose of your armor. It was there to protect you when you had no boundaries. It was there to protect you when you had no tools. This episode will provide you with both so that you can take that armor off and experience the full range of humanity.
Next point what is vulnerability?
Emotional vulnerability as defined by Brene Brown as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (2012). It is an act that is extremely courageous and nearly everyone struggles with-especially me.
Emotional vulnerability is vital because it leads to gentleness. When we allow for emotional vulnerability, we feel the anxiety, we know the risk , and we know the stakes. So we give ourselves compassion and grace. When we see someone else be emotionally vulnerable, we recognize that boldness and as a result we tend to be kind, more patient, and more understanding because we know how fearful it can be for us. When two people allow space for their authentic self to show up, there can only be one result, a deeper and gentler bond. And that is what you want! You want to be your authentic self and you want others to be that too !
So, when should you share yourself?
You should always share yourself. Always, always, always be yourself. If you have a funny story, share it. If you relate, share it. If you understand, share it. Been there, share it. People deserve to know who you are. What you are. Why not allow folks to experience the star that is you? Why not allow people to bear witness to you! You are charismatic, friendly, humorous, intelligent, well-rounded. When people meet you, they leave feeling good about themselves. Why not?!
When you are at your job, on a date, or are meeting new people its ok to share baseline information. Meaning its ok to chime in with a funny story, situation, and show your personality. However, these people have not shown you their character yet and what they have shown you is typically their representative. It is the best of themselves and not who they are when they are not thinking.
So questions to ask yourself before you decide to be vulnerable:
· what is appropriate for this situation?
· Have they proven to be trustworthy?
· What questions are they asking me?
· Are they sensible ones?
· What knowledge does that give them?
· Can they sense my personality, character, or interest through these questions?
· are they inquiring for other reasons?
You don’t have to be suspicious, but you should be aware. Instead of bonding mindlessly and hurting yourself because you didn’t pay attention fully to what they were asking.
Now that you know when and what to share?
The next question is what should you keep to yourself?
· Information people have not earned.
· Information that you don’t want your boss knowing
· Information that you don’t want your prospect to plan against you.
o Remember men are strategic and use information to get what they want faster.
o Co-workers want to look good in front of the boss so that they can garner a raise or a higher position.
o Life is indeed a competition, so understand that not everyone will see you as a friend sometimes you will look a competition.
Finally, define your boundaries clearly.
· Look at your past and find the moments where you overshared, stuck your foot in your mouth, and set yourself up to be taken advantage of….
· That is where you should plan for your boundaries.
You were on a date with a guy. He loved bombed you. you opened up way before you knew anything about him. So, he takes that information and starts becoming everything you want. In one month, he is love with you. He stays at your house 85% of the time and you love it. He slowly moves himself in and now you are living together and in a serious relationship with someone you barely know.
From this scenario you know the following things, you did not ask questions about you partner? Your need for love blinded you to red flags. Why didn’t you know he was struggling financially? Why isn’t that a prerequisite to get you? What does it mean to earn you? Why was he at your house 85% of the time? Don’t you like time to yourself? Is it ok for someone to impede on you like that? What boundaries can you construct and articulate to make sure no one is practically living with you again? There were some serious boundary violations in this story and I hope through this story you can see how stories can help you be better in the future.
Now from this information, she should know what her boundaries are. Her boundaries are to take her time dating. Her potential partner can be at her house 30% of the time. She won’t date anyone who is financially unstable. To know he is financially stable she will ask questions and pay attention to his spending habits. She knows now that it will take more than listening and professing his love to get her. She has decided to write down her standards for next time.
The trick with boundaries is to be honest about who you are and plan for that. Don’t plan for the woman who you want to be. Don’t plan for the woman your ego tells you are. Plan for the woman who you are now, because there is nothing wrong with that girl. Everything you are is ok. You just need boundaries to keep that gentle, sweet person protected.
Vulnerability with boundaries is freeing. It frees you from dividing yourself into two parts. IT frees you from having an inner world and outer world. You can’t experience the full spectrum of life when there is one vital part of you being hidden.
My last point is Vulnerability is a statement that you trust yourself.
When you trust yourself, you have to understand that you did not have the tools back then, but now you do. You have to trust that you have good enough boundaries to weed people out. You have to trust that if you don’t have strong enough boundaries, a moment of pain will teach you where you have to strengthen it. You trust that if anyone disappoints you, you can forgive them and move on or reconcile if they are willing to make up for it. You trust that you can recover from a hurt. You trust that people deserve to experience the fullness of you. You trust that you don’t have to keep armor on because you know your boundaries , you wrote them down, you wrote down the information you are ok with sharing, and you have faith in yourself.
So share yourself with the world, we deserve it.
 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/202005/emotional-pain  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-it-together/201902/emotional-vulnerability-the-path-connection