Vulnerability: the gateway to love

IMG_0863I walked into a networking lunch last week not too concerned about walking into a room full of strangers, until I met the leader of the meeting.  He is a very attractive man. I decided that regardless of anything else, I could enjoy my eye candy during the lunch and it would be time well spent.

At the end of the meeting, he expressed interest in meeting up to learn more about yoga and meditation.  I’m starting to get the hang of this new face of networking, where people learn about each other without overtly selling themselves, so his intentions weren’t exactly clear.  I appreciated the opportunity to converse with him again and totally looked forward to connecting with him.

We met up a few days later and it became clear that we were both attracted to each other.  Next came the vulnerability; that butterflies in the stomach feeling of being exposed. It is daunting to share your most intimate details with someone so they can decide if they want to get to know you better or not.  It is an opportunity for rejection like no other. I am so thankful that I can see it for what it is.  In the past, I wanted to ease the vulnerability by connecting with the other person, but now, I see its purpose and I’m sitting with it.

Vulnerability is the gateway to love.  It is that feeling that you decide to push through, or runaway from.  There are no guarantees.  You can push through it only to discover that the relationship isn’t meant to be.  So many lessons can come from connecting with another, and many times the lessons need the attraction to push you into the situations you can learn from.  There is no way that a casual friendship can bring out the vulnerability needed for deep growth.  Most of us desperately want a good relationship so badly, and we have the expectation that that’s what attraction will lead us to. We blindly focus on what we want; ignoring all the amazing lessons the connection is trying to show us.

I’m not doing that this time. I am dedicated to honoring the process. This feeling of vulnerability has given me the opportunity to choose to let love in.  Love may or may not be waiting on the other side of vulnerability, but it certainly isn’t hiding out next to fear and isolation.  Consciously honoring my feelings is what I’m looking to do. I know what it feels like to shut people out.  I know what it feels like to let people in and have them take advantage of it.  I know what it feels like to let someone in, and enjoy the amazing feeling of love and connection, only to experience a devastating loss later on.

If I’ve gotten to that place in life where my lessons come from being deeply connected to someone, then I’ll happily walk down that path. If I’m still at the point where my lessons come from an earlier stage in the process, then I accept that too. I no longer believe in happily ever after.  I no longer want happily ever after.  I equate happily ever after to stagnation.  I want to keep growing and expanding and learning, and being content does not foster growth.  I’ll take the ups and downs of a connection that pushes me to be a better version of myself over one that lets me stagnate where I am.

Time will tell what this connection has to offer me.  If nothing else, it has helped me remember that this feeling exists and it is the start of a potentially deep connection.  Cheers to vulnerability and hoping my awareness of it brings me that much closer to the best version of myself.

But it isn’t fair! 

I just got back from an amazing 3 week trip to Asia.  As I was digging through a very large stack of mail, I found a notice from the HOA.  A tenant at my rental property had the gall to leave his vehicle parked on the side of the street for an hour after he moved it out of the driveway so his wife could get out of the garage.  Some very diligent HOA board member witnessed this transgression, and the property manager sent me a picture, and a letter, reminding us all that no one is allowed to park on the street!

The HOA reminded me that I was responsible if my tenants don’t follow the rules, so I emailed the tenants telling them I got the letter and asking them to follow the rules so that we could avoid future unpleasant letters.

My tenant responded that it wasn’t fair.  He stated that he never parked on the street and he was ticketed the one time he did it.  He said there was another car that always parked on the street, and was in fact, parked on the street the same time his vehicle was, but that vehicle didn’t have a ticket on it.  He was incensed that this parking rule wasn’t being fairly enforced. He wanted more details so that he could prove he was unfairly targeted.

My question to you is, why does any of this matter?  In the last week I literally saw starving children. I saw people living in poverty, and people being happy with the little they have.  How can someone parking on the street warrant photos and letters and outrage?  Is there any good that can come of this?

Who knows what my tenant was hoping to get by sharing his story, but what he got was my take on fairness and responsibility.  I explained that he admitted he broke the rule and it was fair for him to be ticketed, because he broke the rule.  We can’t know if the other vehicle was ever ticketed, or what their story is, but it doesn’t matter, because fairness for this tenant only has to do with him and the rule he broke.

The idea of fairness is a fantasy, especially when there are multiple people involved.  No one is in the exact same situation, and no one sees the same situation the exact same way.  We are all blessed with our own misperceptions, courtesy of our mind.  Our mind categorizes what happens to us, compares it to our past, and decides how we should feel about it.  Worrying about fairness, or using it as justification, only spends time on things that don’t truly matter.  If you examine everything that happens to you as if it is a personal affront, then you spend a lot of time feeling victimized.  If you can find a way to depersonalize things that happen, then you can go through life with your self-esteem in tact because you don’t have to let things that happen say anything about who you are as a person.

If this tenant shifted his perspective he could have imagined that there was a power-hungry HOA member who was proud of themselves when they caught people parking on the street.  If he realized the ticket had nothing to do with him and was simply some HOA member doing their job to report vehicles parked on the street, then maybe he wouldn’t be so bothered.  If he could admit to himself that anytime he was breaking a rule, he was putting himself at risk for being caught, then maybe he wouldn’t care if any other vehicles were ticketed. If he came to any other conclusion than someone was unfairly trying to make him pay, then maybe this would have been much less of a big deal.

We are all tortured by our minds, until we decide to do something about it.  You can train your mind to work for, rather than against, you.  You can learn to take a step back from situations and see them with a clear perspective.  So, the next time something upsets you, take a minute, and see if you can shift your perspective and see things differently.

An introduction to your subconscious backpack

The subconscious mind plays a very important role in your life and understanding more about it can help solve some of your problems.  To simplify things, I like to describe the subconscious as a backpack..  When you are born, certain beliefs are stuffed into your backpack.  Everyone has a backpack that is specific to them and their race, gender, ancestors, country of origin, family’s religion, and their soul’s experiences, all go in this backpack.  Throughout their lives, everything they interact with is filtered through their backpack.

I’ll give you a simple example.  When I was working in a bank in North Carolina, one of the tellers went into the break room for lunch.  She took out this fruit that I didn’t recognize and started to peel it.  I asked her what it was and she told me it was a mango.  She was from Brazil and she had always peeled and eaten mangoes the same way that Americans peel and eat apples.  I had always walked by mangoes in the grocery store and I’d never eaten one.  My friend’s subconscious backpack had mangoes as a familiar fruit that one eats on a regular basis.  My subconscious had mangoes as a foreign fruit that wasn’t part of my life.  I tried her mango and now, 20 years later, I have a mango tree in my yard and my kids and I regularly enjoy mangoes.  The point of my example is that something that is familiar and usual to one person can be very foreign to another.  The subconscious deals with deeply held beliefs that are much more complicated than familiarity with mangoes, but everything that you come into contact with is filtered through these beliefs.  The way people react to new situations is because of their subconscious beliefs.

If one person’s backpack sees something as foreign and a threat, it will have them react very differently than the person with the backpack that identifies the situation as familiar.  Some people have subconscious minds that see almost everything as a threat; these people walk around with a constant low level of anxiety. Basically, until you become aware of it, most people walk around all day behaving in ways that line up with their subconscious beliefs; beliefs they don’t even know exist and may not even agree with.

There are many ways to make your subconscious beliefs conscious, and the first one is realizing what an important role your subconscious plays in your life.  There are many tools that help you empty your subconscious backpack so that it doesn’t create your feelings and reactions in life.  When you notice a pattern in your life, you are getting a glimpse of a subconscious belief.  Now that your eyes are a little more open, maybe your want to take a look inside your backpack and see if there are a few things that have been weighing you down that you don’t want to carry around anymore.

Conscious relationships blog

This blog will be used to share information about conscious relationships.  A conscious relationship is one where you understand your role in how you interact with the other person.  By acknowledging your role in your feelings, you can start to shift your relationships into healthier ones that feel better to you.  There are many ways to re-shape your current relationships – those with yourself, your body, your family, your career, your free time, and all of your other relationships.