I was about to press Publish and I was sweating. For the previous 3 hours, as I sat on a train from Boston to New York City, I’d been dodging all of the voices of dissent: “This is too much”; “Is this just creative masturbation?”; “This isn’t your journal, this is your blog”; “Is this even going to be helpful for people?” The chatter was loud, and it took every ounce of willpower I had to gently shush the voices and keep.on.writing.
Unraveling into self love was a plunge into even deeper waters of vulnerability through my writing. It wasn’t my first blog post that I’d describe as “vulnerable”, but it was beyond an edge I’d previously crossed, and the first rewards I received for my courage were sweaty armpits and eyes that stung from the emotion of reliving the story I was telling.
I was petrified.
My critter brain was reminding me that I was about to jump off the edge of a cliff and would surely die, but my cerebral cortex was having a conversation with my heart, and they were in agreement: “This is helpful, this is relevant, this is true”, I kept reminding myself.
Helpful, relevant and true:
I’ve come to understand that these are critical components to The Art of Vulnerability, because without any one of them, there’s a thread of inauthenticity that puts the kibosh on even the best of intentions.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself, to ensure your bases are covered…
1. WHAT’S CURRENT FOR ME & RELEVANT TO THEM?
When thinking of a topic to write on, ask yourself: what’s going on in your life and how is it relevant to your readers? For example, if you’re a financial adviser, you may have had an epiphany in the checkout line and can see a way that it relates to your readers’ desire to overcome overspending. To do this requires creative thinking and a desire to serve your readers based on what they want to learn, not just what you want to talk about. You have to know who you’re speaking to — what are their hopes, fears, dreams and desires? And how can your life stories be of service?
2. IS IT TIME?
Sometimes things that are current are a little too current, if you know what I mean. When you’re “in it”, it may not be time to share. When I went through my divorce, I didn’t talk about it publicly for quite a while (a year?). Why? Several reasons: I was swimming in it and therefore lacked perspective; I hadn’t learned my own lessons yet, so I clearly wasn’t fully ready to be of service to others in the same space; I needed my friends and family to support me through it, not my beloved readers (and everyone else on the internet); it just didn’t feel right…until it felt right. Speak when you have something helpful to share, when you have some perspective, and when your gut says it’s time.
3. WHAT AM I COMMITTED TO?
For goodness sakes, know what the point of your story is, and don’t make it all about you. Perhaps this goes without saying, but every person on the planet has – at one point or another – found themselves boasting. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your proud accomplishments, but share them because there’s a teachable lesson to share. Before you write a thing, notice where you’re coming from. Is it generous? What do you want them to get out of it?
4. AM I BEING REAL, FOR REAL?
Inauthenticity truly stinks. If you can smell your half-truths and platitudes, we can too. Notice whether you’re dialing it up or down while you’re writing. Are you trying to sound cool? Or normal? Or edgy, smart, funny, profound, inspiring or wise? Your vulnerable sharing may be poetic or conversational, but you know if it’s coming from your heart. Be moved by the truth, and we’ll be moved by you.
Once you’ve answered these questions with honesty, the fun really begins. Your mind may still play plenty of tricks on you, in an attempt to keep you from taking risks. Keep checking in and asking, “Is this helpful, relevant and true?” throughout, and scan it before publishing with your authenticity radar on high. If indeed it is, have the courage to follow your heart, and you’re beginning to master The Art of Vulnerability.
—> In the comments below, share with us how you keep it real through your writing, while connecting with your readers.