Why It’s Time to Open Up

I just returned home after 2 1/2 weeks of travel and oh does it feel good to be home! Part of the time, I spent 6 days with 30 people at a retreat called Awaken the Heart. Now, while I’m a self-proclaimed personal development junkie and have been excited about this event for about 4 months, I also had TONS of trepidation.

  1. I knew it was would be a pretty emotional experience but had no clue what we were going to be doing. All we were told was “Yoga starts at 8 AM Thursday and the retreat ends sometime Tuesday.”
  2. One of the only people I knew before the retreat wanted me to share a room – with 4 (yes 4!!) people. No. Personal. Space.
  3. I value vulnerability above anything in relationships – AND it’s something that’s still hard for me sometimes. #workinprogress
  4. Ditching all tech (phones, TV, etc) was STRONGLY encouraged for the week.
  5. AND, if all that wasn’t enough, when I arrived, already nervous, I walked into a room of virtual strangers sitting in a half-circle facing at each other. I wanted to turn around and make a run for it. I mean, WTF was I about to get myself into??

**Spoiler alert** – I didn’t run – and I can honestly say those 6 days changed my life. 
For the first few days, it was my typical M.O. – quickly size up who looks warm and open (read: safe) and cling to them like crazy glue. I made some new friends…and made plenty of assumptions about others that didn’t seem so friendly.

Then on day 4 something big changed. I put myself in the hot seat to get coached around how to trust myself and feel safe to open up and be more vulnerable.

Now, anyone that knows me is well aware I’ve got a fierce side that spends a lot of time “on guard.” I’ve affectionately named that part of me, Patricia.
And while my soul craves vulnerability – Patricia knows I’ve been burned in the past, and she’s got a hair-trigger response to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
While I wanted to be vulnerable and learn, the whole situation was sending my nervous system into hyperdrive and keeping Patricia firmly in charge.

  1. I was in a chair in the middle of this damn semi-circle, with 30 people staring at me.
  2. I was sharing the details of several experiences where, when I was vulnerable I was dismissed, mocked or lost an important relationship.
  3. The whole thing was facilitated by a man who stretches me AND also triggers me to question whether he’s safe for me to be vulnerable or not (EXACTLY why I put myself in the hot seat).

I ended up being up there for 3 – yes 3 HOURS! And it was scary as hell at times. But it ended up being the best thing I’ve ever done and taught me a crazy valuable lesson.

I’m always looking for signals that someone is safe for me to open up. Until I feel safe, my guard (and my resting bitch face) is leading the way, which isn’t signaling safety to THEM either. It’s an epic RBF standoff that leads to a quick exchange of pleasantries AT BEST.

But when I was willing to be more open myself and share my experience, it was relatable to everyone in the room.

They saw themselves in me, learned from my experience and immediately felt closer to me. It inspired them to share with me too.

The sweetest exchanges of the week were with three of the women I would have never approached on my own. One even tackled me with a huge hug in the hallway during a break which blew me away.

Because I was willing to open up, I now have a crew of lifelong friends.

So, as the holidays approach, let’s make a pact, shall we?
Let’s OPEN UP!
Let’s be the example for our girlfriends and families by starting a conversation about something on our heart.
Let’s take up space and hold space for them.

It might feel a little awkward or scary. But what’s on the other side of that feeling is SO damn worth it.
You’ll feel more CONNECTED be truly SEEN by the those we love.
And THAT is the greatest gift we can give.

P.S. If you’re looking for inspiration to start a heartfelt conversation, or still hunting for a unique gift, shop my Dinner Parties in a Box. They have everything you need to connect over yummy food and spark an interesting conversation about the meaningful things in life we rarely get to in our day to day chit chat.

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