When I was at The Daring Way™ training we had an assignment one night to do an art project related to the armor we use to protect ourselves from shame, and what it would look like if we became vulnerable.
At the words ‘art project’ my inner resistant girl yells, ‘Noooooo’. She always yells that. And, I’ve learned to let her have her tantrum (which she loves to do) and then sit quietly and wait for the creative inspiration to come. Once the inspiration shows up, my resistant girl whispers, ‘Oh, that’s cool’, which is just what she said about my protective wall.
This is what I imagine when I’m protecting myself from shame. Big grey stones, thick and solid, impenetrable, like a wall around a medieval castle.
What a great wall, right? Keeps poison arrows, hoarding masses, and evil wrongdoers out! I’m safe within the wall.
One problem though. Even though it keeps the evildoers out, it keeps the loving wonderful out too. My armored wall prevents connection and even though I’m safe from harm, it can get a little lonely inside there all by myself.
Solution? Blow down the wall; rip it apart stone by stone, right?!
No way! I cringe at the thought of no wall and no protection. I want boundaries; I want some control of who goes in and out of my personal territory.
I want a GATE!
A gate allows me to be in charge. I can choose who to let in and be vulnerable with. And according to Brené Brown’s research, vulnerability is what creates connection. Certainly having an impenetrable wall of stone does not create connection – it creates loneliness.
I used the metaphor of having a gate in the wall with my client Carol. Her story of vulnerability success is so powerful. She found the idea of a gate in the wall so much easier than the prospect of tearing down the wall. Open the gate – connection. Close the gate – safety.
To Carol, dismantling a wall felt like it would take tremendous work and an epic amount of time, but opening and closing a gate? Piece of cake!
We all have walls. They are useful and necessary. We need to have a choice about who joins us on the inside and who we escort out. We need to be able to retreat to a safe place and then sometimes invite the whole village in for a celebration.
Open the gate. Let a trusted soul in. Connect. Love.
How can you open a gate? Who can you open that gate to? What’s your story of making space in your protective armor for vulnerability, love, and connection? My inner resistant girl would like to know!