Vulnerability vs. Strength

Vulnerability

My friend Ja-Naé Duane recently wrote a blog post entitled “The Power of Vulnerability”.

Here’s her video where she discusses what’s on her mind:


YouTube Link => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UY0iKTFenE

I think she made some interesting points… She’s inspired me to chat a little about vulnerability vs. strength.

Strength

In fact.. You’re only as strong as you are.

Bill & Ja-NaéThat seems to make sense, in the way that “Wherever you go.. There you are” is obvious, but the point is that if there’s a certain amount of weight that you can carry, you can’t carry any more than that.

Someone else might be able to carry more weight than you, and by trying to do everything yourself, you don’t receive the help they COULD give you if you were to either directly request it or at least show vulnerability indicating that you can’t carry as much as you’d like to.

Even someone that can carry way less than you might be able to supplement your abilities so you can make progress in your life or your current situation.

The problem is that people like to believe that they’re stronger than they are.. In effect, either attempting to wish superior abilities into existence, or just remain in denial about what they can and can’t do.

As strange as it seems, that format of arrogance is often a hindrance instead of an asset.

By not recognizing that you need help, accepting that fact, and requesting help from people that know more than you do or have been through the same situation before, you’re slowing your own personal growth as you rely on only your personal power to improve yourself.

When you’re working out, you don’t get stronger from lifting the same amount of weight for the same number of repetitions. You get stronger by stressing your muscle so that it goes “Hey! :O .. I’d better figure out how to move more weight for next time! :O”. You can do that yourself by working to fatigue, lowering the amount of weight you’re lifting and immediately continuing.. or you can get a workout partner. When your partner notices that you’re about to fail in your lift, he or she can apply a slight amount of pressure, making the weight slightly lighter, enough so that you can complete your lift and start training your body to do tougher work.

Assistance

Introspection and self-improvement works the same way. You can either try to do it yourself, or brainstorm with someone else. If you come to the table feeling “I know everything about this, and I don’t need help from anyone”, you look good and you look self-sufficient, and that probably feels good at the time, but at the end of the day (week, month, year), you won’t have benefitted from other people’s opinions about whatever you feel is blocking you because you never opened yourself up to them and they never knew that the issue was an issue for you.

So basically, it’s “Feel impressive now, by acting invulnerable, and make way less progress” or “Make yourself vulnerable by telling people what you need help with, and move forward with an entire team of people working on your problem instead of trying to handle it all yourself”.

Does this mean you offer this to everyone? Nope. 🙂 You need to determine that someone is a) on your team, b) won’t put your business in the streets, and c) is actually ABLE to help you or offer valuable insight on whatever you’re kickin’ it with them about… There’s no point in asking for cooking tips from someone that you know eats out at fast food restaurants all the time.

Also.. Just because someone CAN help you doesn’t mean they FEEL LIKE helping you, or even hearing about what you want to talk about. I know people that just run their mouths incessantly, as if anybody ever asked them anything. It’s only courtesy that prevents people from telling them to STFU and that they don’t give a flying **** about what they’re saying. If you bring something up, make sure to figure out whether the person actually cares before wasting your breath and time yakking about something that they’re trying to forget as quickly as you’re trying to tell them.

This isn’t just a “help me” issue, either, And I know that’s not specifically what Ja-Naé was talking about in her video & post. It could be something as simple as “I feel this way, even though most people I come into contact with express a different opinion”. That different way you feel is simultaneously your opportunity to lose followers or to gain alliances with people that you totally wouldn’t have suspected you had things in common with because they weren’t bringing up the same topics you were silently living with, yourself.

Individuality

I went to dinner with several social media friends a while back… The reason I mention “social media” is because, like everyone else, my social media presence is a percentage of the overall, real-life experience of interacting with The Kid. hahaha Even “The Kid” is part of the online show, because I don’t actually refer to myself in third person, IRL. I don’t refer to myself at all. I’m really more interested in what’s going on with the people that I’m hanging out with, or else I wouldn’t be hanging out with them.

So, somehow, we start talking about dating. I’m pretty sure that was my fault. 😛 .. I think out of basic courtesy, someone had asked me what I had been doing before dinner, and I had been in a situation that involved women, as usual, so I started talking about that.

At some point, the conversation reached a crossroad. I had two options. I was either going to “play it safe” and pretend I’m not who I am, or I was going to entertain / amuse / shock the group with real stories from the dating trenches… I was feeling ambitious / aggressive, so I decided to go for it. >:D

What I received was a mixed bag. That’s to be expected when you drop the same information on several individuals, simultaneously.

One woman seemed like she was either aghast, had nothing to contribute on the topic or didn’t want to contribute something that would put her in what she would perceive to be an uncomfortable position. I get that, because I’m friends with her (or, at least, I *WAS*, up until that point in time! 😀 HAHA), and she didn’t want to feel uncomfortable by telling me what she thinks I should do with my life, but she also didn’t want to feel uncomfortable by NOT attempting to reprimand me as if she were my schoolteacher, and seeming like she was either approving of, condoning, or even merely “ok with” what I was saying.

It was funny, watching those “What should I do in this situation?” wheels turning in her head as she attempted to figure out what she could contribute to the conversation without putting herself in a bad position, socially. It would have been better for her if she would have known that I do stuff like this all the time, and I fully expect people to say blah blah blah whatever about what I just said and it doesn’t actually matter to me, because it’s only information about THEM, not me, and I enjoy getting to know people in that way.

One guy was also stunned, but kind of in a “HOLY ****! :O .. Did he actually DO THAT??? :O” way that was rather flattering, as far as I’m concerned. I pride myself on being cutting edge and thinking outside of the box, and as strange as the group found what I was saying, I wasn’t even going 10% into the depths of where I could have taken them as far as the dating scene in NYC.

He ended up offering me a few website suggestions that I haven’t implemented yet, but were all very good ideas. His response was simultaneously “creeped out” and “a fan”, which was rather fun & enjoyable for me, haha 😀

Another woman countered my stories with her own tales from back in the day, including pictures on her smartphone… She looked good in the pictures, but I was even more impressed with her current fortitude and the brand of one-upmanship with which she presented her case. It was like “Yeah.. Well.. I put in work back in my day as well, so WHO *YOU* TELLIN’? >:D”. haha Rather admirable.

She’s still cute and rather vivacious TODAY, so she should be knockin’ off dudes in her age bracket left & right! >:D hahaha Play On, Playette!!! 😉

Meanwhile…

The fifth member of our party, another guy, had the most interesting response of everyone… I don’t remember exactly what he said, because I was in the moment and monitoring everyone at the table at the same time for their reactions. He said something like “So, you’re just a jerk.” or “So, you’re just an asshole.” or something.. I don’t remember the actual term he used, but his implication is what I received.

I believe I had been laughing at the time he said that, or maybe I started laughing when I heard him say that.. Either way, I suppressed two chuckles to grunt “Yeah. :)” and then I got back to the laugh I had been enjoying.

I understood what he was saying, and I respect and appreciate what he did… He was under the same pressure that the first woman was under. He was either going to stay shut and seem like he condoned what I was saying, effectively throwing himself under the same bus with me, or he was going to speak against what I was saying, making things potentially uncomfortable between him and I, but solidifying his position with the rest of the group as someone ANTI what I was saying.

In fact, even though I didn’t mention this to him, and I doubt he reads my blog, I completely appreciate the fact that he was willing to take a stand on the matter, pro or con. The opportunity that we miss because of Political Correctness and groupthink is that we never get to test our logic or learn from differing opinions. Everybody wants to say “ME TOO! :D” and “I AGREE WITH YOU! :D” or they STFU. This slows people’s growth and causes them to react poorly when they encounter someone that’s willing to say “You’re wrong about that, and here’s why..”, or simply “I understand that you feel that way, but I feel differently about that”.

This is why my response was “Yeah. :)”, because, in fact, whatever name he called me is of zero consequence, whatsoever. It’s not going to stop me from doing business, and it’s not going to stop me from getting laid.

All it can really do is HELP HIM to get laid, which I’m used to from playing “Good Cop, Bad Cop” style on chicks… One guy is the jerk. The other guy reprimands him. The girls either go for the bad boy or the nice guy. There’s a 50% chance that I will benefit from the technique, but there’s a 100% chance that ONE OF US will benefit, which isn’t something you can always say about mixed-company interactions.

I’m definitely willing to take the heat if it helps a friend get on, hehe I’mma get mine’s, regardless. >:D

So anyway.. My point is that I could have avoided all of that by staying shut and only telling my dinner companions what I knew they were comfortable with hearing about that would have made me look like a middle-of-the-road type of person.

I elected to talk about some fun stuff because it was going to either enhance or erode my interpersonal relationships with them instead of leaving the situation stagnant. I liked them all enough as people to take that chance, and I’m happy with what I received in return… Whether our relationships moved forward or backward, I’m glad that I provided them with information that will help them make an informed and educated decision, either way.

Lectures & Consequences

The only situation that immediately comes to mind for me, regarding vulnerability (meaning that similar to Ja-Naé, I should work on creating more instances of this..) is one where years ago I went to visit one of my best friends and a sensei to me in the chick game.

I wish I could remember the scenario exactly, but basically, IIRC, I had been kickin’ it with some chick that I liked and I had informed him that I was going to be in a situation where I could have hooked up with her. I ended up NOT hooking up with her, but I totally didn’t want to talk about that.

When he asked me what went on with her, I said something to the effect that it was ok. He asked me directly if I hit it, and I lied and said “yes”.

I lied because I didn’t want to go through the hour(s) worth of a lecture I was going to receive if I admitted I hadn’t bagged her. I just wanted to hang out and have a good time, and really didn’t want to talk about strategy and theory that day.

Maybe I was also embarrassed that I hadn’t hit it. \o/ I don’t remember. Either way, the point is that I thought I was playing it off lovely, but he kept asking me about it and asking me about it and asking me about it until I finally admitted that I didn’t hook up with her.

His response was that he had already been fully aware that I hadn’t hit it because my action report wasn’t what it should have been and always was.

I relatively immediately recognized that he was absolutely correct, and my lie was absolutely incredible without the typical details. I didn’t have much time to dwell on that, though, as I became instantly depressed that I was about to receive the lecture I had been attempting to avoid with my weak lie. 🙁

The reason I bring this up is that somewhere amongst the barrage of comments and criticism I received about my lack of effectiveness, he said that there was no way he could help me unless I gave him the actual facts about the situation.

This was a watershed event for me in the vulnerability vs. strength game.

I recognized that he was absolutely right, and that I actually should have been IN A HURRY to detail my failure to him so I could get some better ideas on how to handle the situation next time. My options were to progress slowly by trying to hide situations where I didn’t achieve maximum effectiveness or progress quickly by bringing my issues to the table and figuring things out as a team instead of an individual.

I’ve also gone in the opposite direction, claiming that I didn’t hook up with a chick when I actually did.

That was more of an issue of my own personal taste vs, let’s call it, societal standards of attractiveness.. I wouldn’t have gained any props for admitting I messed with her, and I actually would have lost credit for having low visual standards when it comes to hookups… Also, there was no educational value in discussing it, because I did what I was supposed to do, so sweeping it under the rug appeared to be a WIN across the board.

Still.. In the context of this article, one could argue that admitting to liking a certain look or style to a female would probably lead to people sending me more of them instead of figuring I wouldn’t be interested and not introducing us… Once again, authenticity / vulnerability can be viewed as a benefit, in the grand scheme of things.

In fact, my blog has yielded the most interesting IRL conversations from posts that I figured NOBODY would want to discuss… I considered some of those posts complete throwaways, but I’ve received immense value from them as they’ve brought me closer to women I figured I’d never get to know, other than peripherally.

Taking Chances

Bill & Ja-Naé @ BrandsConf 2010That’s not to say that the road is easy… Not at all. Like I said in my dinner party example, you have to be willing to lose big if you want to make unorthodox strides in your relationships.

Most people aren’t willing to lose, so they play the middle of the road. Whatever’s in style, they agree with it. Whatever’s in fashion, they wear it. That’s all well & good and keeps life simple, but my best relationships are with people that know more about who I am rather than less.

Similarly, I know women that will give you some the first day they meet you. I know other women that will make you wait 90 days, regardless! 😀 hehe I don’t see one as a slut and one as virtuous. I don’t see one as regular and one as a prude. They’re just facts.. components of their personalities. It’s what you get when you interact with them. It comes in the package.

I know guys that will look out for your girlfriend as if she’s family to them if they run into her and you’re not there. I know guys that will try to screw your girlfriend if they see her and you’re not around. They’re just facts.. components.

The way I see it, it’s better to know where people stand and what they’re into and likely to do than to remain oblivious in a society that attempts to convince you that we’re all living the exact same lifestyles.

The people that are going to say “You’re weird as hell and I don’t want to associate with you! :(” would have bailed on you when you needed them anyway. Think about it. Good Riddance to Bad Garbage.

The people that say “You’re just a jerk, aren’t you?” and still wish you well at the end of the day are the ones you can grow with because they’re not scared to stand up for what they believe in and vigorously defend their positions.

The people that are willing to expose themselves to vulnerability by sharing authentic thoughts and feelings with you are actually the strong ones, because whether you shun them or embrace them, they’re ready and willing to forge forward into whatever their lives are going to become… With or without you…

http://listn.to/reelsolidtv
Bill Cammack – “Neo vs. Morpheus” by Bill Cammack

5 thoughts on “Vulnerability vs. Strength”

  1. Thank you for this post today… how ironic! I so appreciate you! I just got done talking to the girl ‘my guy’ asked out last night… long story… here goes… the same guy I wrote you about a few months ago who ditched me for a married woman… he dumped her and we got back together, or so I thought- evidently! Well, last night we both met this nice lady and he asked her out! She is new to the area, so had also gotten my number… and called me today. So, I decided to be honest and open up and say what was really on my mind and not be so ‘nice’ all the time- for ONCE- and told her I thought she was a nice person but didn’t think we could be friends after finding out that she had a date with the man I have dated for 7 years!!! She was upset and asked if I would come over for coffee, and I said no, but then changed my mind and went… I decided then and there that he and I are done, and I have a new friend, so it’s all good! If I hadn’t opened up to her, I would still be stuck in the same old same old bullshit… I have just recently realized that even he has tried to get me to open up, and I just have a real problem doing it, I think that is one reason we did not work out, but I hope I can keep it up and keep letting my vulnerability show once in awhile… I know it will be hard but I am pretty much over it already… so again I want to thank you for your writings, they have helped me in where I need to go… keep up the good work.

    1. Hey Steph. 🙂 Thanks for the comments and the update.

      It sounds like you’re doing what everyone should do, which is figure out how you want to live your life and then live it. hehe Nice! 😀

      I think my favorite part is “but then changed my mind and went”. That’s normally what happens to me when I go from THINKING to FEELING.. When I stop processing what I think I should do or could do in a situation and just go with the flow.

      That’s one of the reasons why I don’t make plans. I might feel like doing something until that very day and then bail out.. or I might NOT feel like doing something, and then an hour before it starts, I’m all souped up to go. 😛 .. I already know about myself that listening to myself leads to my best power moves and greatest efficiency, so feeling set about something and then going with whatever your natural flow is was probably a much stronger move for you than going along with whatever the original thought was that made you feel like not meeting her.

      It’s all about square pegs, really. Figure out what you want. Figure out what whomever you want to date wants. If you want to give them what they want and they want to give you what you want, go for it… Otherwise, keep on steppin’! 😉

  2. vulnerability, the ability to let it out, and reel it back in, is a great strength. It forges bonds, and opens doors of opportunity. Whether you need help, or just would enjoy being understood, letting people in just a little bit is a social risk, and it not only reveals a strong character, it will strengthen your character.

    1. True, Rebecca.

      It’s such a toss-up.. To remain invulnerable (at least, so you THINK) and try to figure everything out yourself, or to take that chance and open yourself up to potential harm, yet simultaneously, the potential for great and rewarding gains, derived from receiving authentic and heartfelt opinions from someone standing outside your situation, looking in.

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