A vow to vulnerability

I had a conversation with one of my closest friends today about vulnerability. It seems that we are both at a point where being as open and honest in our social interactions and life, in general, is of primary importance.

I’ve spent the majority of my life mastering the art of people-pleasing. It’s my nature to want to please everyone around me. That in itself I see as a very innocent and well-intentioned quality. But what that usually leads to is creating a facade that will be pleasing to whoever I happen to be around. I think that this sometimes gives people the impression that I don’t ever have struggles or emotions. Why is this a problem?


Passion or platitudes?

I’m at a point now where if I’m spending time with someone I want to have real conversations that ignite something of worth in each of us rather than just a polite exchange of platitudes.  I’m sure you’ve had experiences where you’re speaking to someone, and the conversation is thrilling and lights you up in all sorts of ways. That’s what I’m ready for now.  Usually having these sorts of conversations involves stepping beyond the comfort zone that the false facade provides and sharing something a little more personal. That requires a degree of vulnerability.   


Despite popular belief, I’m not a robot.

I think the fact that I’m an introvert to the max makes it all the more important for me to open up more and let others know that beneath the stoic Spock-like surface of logic and reason there is something going on emotionally. Being vulnerable enough to share what I’m feeling lets people know that I’m human after all and that I go through all of the same struggles everyone else does. A simple way I’ve started exercising this is by letting people know how much I appreciate them and their role in my life.


The fear of rejection

Apart from wanting others to feel comfortable around me, there’s another reason I don’t let people see my true self. If you don’t know the real me, then your rejection won’t hurt as much. But what do I really gain from that? Shielding myself from any external rejection also means I’m not capable of having true, honest and intimate relationships. In order to truly connect with others that wall has to be torn down.


Vulnerability is a prerequisite to authentic Creativity

Because creativity is my life, It’s essential that I embrace vulnerability. Creativity is self-expression and if I’m going to create in the most authentic way and share that with the world I have no choice but to be vulnerable. For example, a little over a year ago I made the transition from a musician playing cover songs for money to devoting myself fully to my own creative endeavors. I knew that I wanted to be someone who uplifts others in some way. The first step I took in this direction was posting my thoughts and any quotes I found had inspired me on social media. I was surprised how apprehensive I was to posting positive quotes online. I was afraid that people would judge me harshly for posting trite or overused aphorisms.  Even though what I was sharing was always met with a positive response there were many times at the beginning where I sat seized with indecision about posting something and just imagined what others were going to think of what I had to say. “Cheesy.” “Get real.” “Who do you think you are, Oprah?” These fears only subsided when I realized that firstly that wasn’t the response I was getting at all and more importantly that those people who may derive some comfort from the things I post are far more important to me than anyone who would use it as an opportunity to put me down.

This blog itself is a step towards greater vulnerability and honesty. It’s more comfortable for me to not write from a first person point of view at all. I’d rather pretend I’m infallible and have it all figured out. But not only is that laughably untrue it doesn’t help anyone either.

To conclude I’ll leave you with this quote that has become quite popular when speaking about this topic. And rightly so.

“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who’s actually in the arena. Whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly but comes up short again and again. Who in the end may know the triumph of high achievement but when he fails he does so daring greatly.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Posted on March 10, 2017 .

Chaos precedes change

There seems to be a theme of change and transition happening at the moment. Almost everyone I speak to has either just gone through a radical change or is on the brink of making a decision in that direction. I write this as someone who has experienced this in pretty much every aspect of my life recently.

When I look back over the past four months it’s really quite astonishing to see how quickly and completely my life has evolved. While I was in the midst of these transitions they seemed quite challenging indeed. I want to share with you some things I learned about courage and faith.

If there is a decision you’re considering making that has been in the back of your mind (or screaming loudly in your face) for some time hopefully something I say here can help give you some direction.

 

Create some distance

Sometimes I’ll get an impulse or instinctive urge and in that moment it’s pure and clear and I feel pretty good about it. Then I put it through a few cycles of analyzing, doubting, questioning and asking others for their opinion and I end up not so sure any more. This is what helped me past my doubt. I thought to myself “Although this decision may feel all important and life-changing what if I could just put it down for a moment? What if I could create some space between me and it?” I did the best I could to give my brain the day off from deliberating. It might be hard for you to go a full day but even giving your brain a break for an hour can help immensely. This helped me regain some sense of objectivity and clarity about how I truly felt regarding the situation. There’s a reason that “sleep on it” is such a common piece of advice. 

One way to create this buffer is to decide that tomorrow will be your day off from thinking about this situation or decision. After a night of sleep you wake up with a clean slate. When the thought comes creeping back in (which it most likely will) do your best not to engage with it. Treat it like a radio station that’s playing in the background that even though you can hear it you’re not focused on what it’s saying. It also helps to change up your routine and do something that completely removes you from the situation. 

 

Have the courage to put yourself first

Something I stumbled upon during this time of change was worrying about how my decisions are going to affect the people around me. How is it going to make them feel and what if they don’t like the decisions I make? Often we would rather deal with the discomfort of staying in a situation that’s no longer in our best interest rather than letting someone else down. This is where the courage part comes in. Ultimately you have to put yourself at the top of your priority list and expect everyone else to do the same for themselves. 

It also helps to realize that when others see you having the confidence to travel your own path it may inspire them to do the same. And that’s something worth getting excited about.

 

A lesson in Faith

Throughout making these changes I was forced to learn to have faith and trust in myself. It’s a little bit of the old adage “jump and the net will appear” but there’s a huge sense of freedom that comes from no longer having to weigh your decisions against other peoples opinions that makes it more than worth taking that leap. This challenging time you’re going through may be the very thing that will help you learn to follow your own lead and trust your own knowing. That's what it did for me.

-Luke

Posted on February 24, 2017 .

The best New Years resolution

If you are currently mulling over what your intentions should be for 2017 I have an idea that you might like.

A few years ago my new years resolutions were things that might sound familiar: "Exercise more" "Achieve this goal" "Make more money" "Be happier damn it." Then I discovered a new way to look at resolutions. I started looking at them in emotional terms. I noticed that all of those actions and outcomes that I wanted to achieve were extremely dependent on how I felt on a day-to-day basis. I was also finding that how I felt day-to-day was more important than what I accomplished and had to come first.

That's why I propose this for 2017:

When we find ways to love ourselves in however we see fit from moment to moment we start to finally get our life moving concordantly in one direction. Instead of our intentions and our actions being like two trains headed in opposite directions they start lining up more and more. From experience I can tell you that being nicer to yourself and focusing on your emotional state first will result in everything that sounds desirable. Better self-esteem, better relationships, better food choices, more energy to put towards your goals and MOST important - you just feel happier as you go throughout your day. 

So you may be thinking "Cool.... how do I 'love myself'"? And the easiest answer is do whatever makes you feel more relaxed and more comfortable in your body in any given moment. It can be an action such as taking a nap, listening to music you enjoy, taking a walk in nature, meditating etc but it doesn't have to be. Some of the most helpful tools I've discovered are thought based. What complements can you offer yourself? How often can you give yourself the benefit of the doubt? How many times per day can you appreciate yourself and recognize how well you're doing? 

I invite you to consider this approach and please let me know what you think! Write to me at luke@lukedavids.com

Hope you have a wonderful New Years weekend - see you in 2017!

-Luke

Posted on December 31, 2016 .