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Vulnerability Is The New Black

Did you see Brené Brown’s interview on CBS 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, where she sang the praises of vulnerability? It spoke to me. In fact, it moved me so much, I watched it again online because I didn’t want to miss a single piece of her wisdom. And it wasn’t just wisdom she doled out, it was confirmation of something I’ve always known: That being vulnerable is actually a strong move.

If you don’t know Brenè Brown, she’s a qualitative researcher, lecturer, TEDTalker, best-selling author, and badass when it comes to vulnerability.

I thought I was alone in my fear of vulnerability–even admitting it made me feel weak, but here comes Brenè Brown with 20 years of research and over 400,000 pieces of data to prove that vulnerability isn’t weakness, it’s the path to courage. There is no courage without vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the new black. It’s sexy, brave, and it’s everywhere. Vulnerability shows your humanness, and isn’t that what we’re all feeling right now? We’re in a time where we’re collectively vulnerable, searching for strength. Our vulnerability is on full display, and it’s OK according to Brenè, because “What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful.”

“The most vulnerable people I know are the toughest people I know.” –Brenè Brown.

Vulnerability teaches resilience, gives you grit, and makes you tougher. Vulnerability is the scariest ride you’ll ever take, but daring to step on it is the first step to conquering it.

It takes balls to admit you’re vulnerable/scared/lonely/helpless/anxious, but as Brenè cautions: “If you don’t name what you’re feeling, if you don’t own your feelings, and feel them, they will eat you alive.”

I’m terrible at vulnerability. Nothing makes me feel more out of control, exposed, and fragile. But that’s the lesson. We need to feel vulnerable in order to know what we’re made of, to know our worth, and see what we’re capable of.

I know this from my many years in the fitness business. After hundreds of classes and clients, I’ve seen what facing fears, powering through pain, and digging deep will do to somebody. I’ve seen the power of vulnerability take a self-doubting, fearful 80-year-old grandmother and turn her into the Bionic Woman; I’ve seen vulnerability take an overweight, self-loathing, single dad and turn him into the Six Million Dollar Man. Everything I do with my clients makes them feel vulnerable: from balancing on unstable surfaces, to releasing their egos. But I crack the whip and they beat back the vulnerability beast.

Me and vulnerability are a different story, though.

We’re “friends” right now, but it’s been a struggle. Usually I’m tough-as-nails, but when both my parents fell ill last December, all that changed. My father was diagnosed with cancer and died in January, and my mother continues to be in and out of the hospital suffering with Type-1 diabetes, pneumonia, sepsis, a broken hip, and coronavirus. As a result, I’ve been suffering too. And even though I have an insanely supportive husband, I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my life. Add in the backdrop of a pandemic, and you can see how beating back the vulnerability beast is a daily struggle for me.

How is this possible? I’m a life-long athlete, I’ve run five marathons, and was single till I was 51. If anyone knows how to tough it out, it should be me. WTF?!

I’m not sure this experience is showing me what I’m made of, but it’s sure showing me that I’m human.

The reality is, we’re all scared shitless right now. We’re all freaking the fuck out. There’s so much we have no control over, and if you’re like me, you’re fighting the feeling with everything you’ve got. But here’s the deal: “Vulnerability may be the core of shame, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness, but it also appears that it’s the birthplace of joy, creativity and love,” according to Brenè.

My hope is that when coronavirus is all over, we’ll look back at ourselves with a sense of pride. We’ll have seen what we’re made of, what our worth is, what we’re capable of, and we will be stronger people for it.

Vulnerability is the new black, so wear it well my friends.

One Day You Will Thank The Ex Who Dumped You

Believe it or not, your anger will turn into gratitude.

It might not be tomorrow, or next week. It might not be a month, a year, or even a few years, but in time, you will look back upon the ex you once reviled and the breakup that almost killed you, and say thanks.

I had a boyfriend I was madly in love with many years ago. We had passion, chemistry, similar interests, backgrounds, and potential. The only problem was, I was in my early 40s with a ticking biological clock and a palpable desperation to get married and pregnant, and he didn’t.

He was newly divorced, conflicted on every level, and not really emotionally available, although he made a good show of it. He gave me what I needed at the time: HOPE. He also gave me enough encouragement to feel like we were viable (actually it was more mixed signals than encouragement). Whatever we had, I took because I wanted a relationship that bad.

Dating him was a labor of love. I had to contend with his ex-wife, his young kid, and ugly divorce. Didn’t matter, I was devoted. I tolerated his reticence, took on his baggage, and kept hope alive.

I gave him my heart and soul, and then he crushed both when I found out he was cheating on me.

To be honest, he technically didn’t “dump” me; he didn’t “officially” break up with me. Rather, he let his actions do the dirty work. That he didn’t fight for me was the actual dumping.

To say I was destroyed was an understatement. The betrayal and pain were visceral. I felt taken advantage of, and my good efforts felt rejected. I took to my bed and cried for days. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or function. Eventually my pain turned to seething anger, which felt like progress at least.

Suddenly, I hated the guy I was in love with.

One wise friend said to me, “You know, Treva, one day you’ll thank him.” And I said, “Fuck off, no way.” I swore to myself I’d despise him forever, and I did for a while. That is, until I didn’t.

I don’t remember when I turned the corner, but somewhere in between therapy, support from friends, self-care, wine, weed, and time, I healed. Only after I pieced my heart back together and was on the other side of rage, did the lesson become clear:

I would never ignore my needs, betray my better judgment, or dishonor my highest good again. I would never grovel, compromise my dignity, or sell my soul for a relationship. Most of all, I refused to be desperate.

These epiphanies not only changed my life, they forever changed the way I love, and let myself be loved. Most of all, they changed the way I love MYSELF.

None of this could’ve happened without the ex.

I never thought I’d say this, but my wise friend was right. I owe my ex a debt of gratitude. Because of him, I grew into a much better version of myself. All that pain paid off, and it will for you too, if you ever get dumped. When you see how much you’ve grown, you’ll realize the struggle was worth it.

You may hate your ex initially, but eventually you’ll be grateful for the gifts he/she gives you.

You will thank your ex for giving you clarity.

You’ll see more clearly and have better insight into who you are and what you want. You’ll identify danger signs and red flags faster, and take quicker action when your needs aren’t getting met.

You will thank your ex for giving you motivation.

You’ll raise your standards, get in better shape, tie up loose ends, heal old wounds, stop repeating patterns, break bad habits, and resolve old issues. Your ex will give you newfound motivation to fix everything.

You will thank your ex for making you stronger and more resilient.

Your confidence will improve, so will your worth and value to yourself. You’ll find the power to speak up, the courage to demand better, and the self-respect not to take anyone’s shit. You will find resolve you never knew you had.

You will thank your ex for setting you free.

Instead of wasting time constantly worrying about your relationship, your energy will be freed up to do more important things, like meet someone great who truly wants you, appreciates you, and gives you the love you deserve.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Like I said, none of these things will happen quickly, but the first day you’ve gone without crying, seething, or hating your ex, or the first day you’re more hopeful than angry, you’ll know your grudge is turning into gratitude, and you’re on your way to saying thanks….and forgiving them too.

Self-Improving Your Chances At Love

“I am the most important mover of my chances in life.”

I don’t know where I found this saying–probably in a self-improvement or personal growth blog—all I know is that it resonated so much with me, I highlighted the text, enlarged the font, printed it out, cut it into a strip, placed it on my desk next to my computer, and have been looking at it ever since for the last two years.

This little piece of self-improvement kept me going when I wanted to quit; it pushed me to work harder when I got complacent; and it reminds me on a daily basis that my future is mine, and only I can make it happen. It’s a pep talk every time I look at it.

You can apply it to everything in life: career, family, success, money, etc., but it also applies to LOVE—finding it, knowing it, and keeping it.

You are the most important mover of your chances to have all three.

Self-improvement isn’t sexy, or especially romantic. But if you want love, if you want to be a better dater, attract better people, have better relationships, you must first become a better you.

Here’s how:

Take Responsibility

Everything starts with you: your emotions, choices, actions, and behavior. You have total control when it comes to managing YOU. Stop blaming others for your unhappiness, and stop making excuses for your singleness. If you’re unsatisfied with your looks, your weight, the quality of your relationships, etc., take ownership and be accountable. Take charge and be the boss of you.

Stop Complaining

Everyone’s got problems, no one’s life is perfect. You may have legitimate grievances, but you worsen them by complaining. Hearing yourself bitch and moan (or posting it on social media) not only gives your misery power, it feeds into your self-loathing. Moreover, it turns people off. No one likes negativity. Like I said, we’ve all got our shit, but we deal with it. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Envision The Best Version Of Yourself, Then Keep It In Your Mind’s Eye

Whether it’s a slimmer, smarter, fitter, happier, healthier, more successful you, see a picture of yourself as that, and refer to it often. Commit it to memory. When it comes to your potential, dream big, aim high, drill it into your head, and convince your self-doubting psyche that anything’s possible. Don’t take “no” for an answer, especially from yourself.

Have The Courage To Change

Recognizing what needs to change takes honesty, making changes takes guts. If you find the courage to do both, the rewards will more than pay off. Face your fears, put in the effort, push yourself a little everyday, and fight against procrastination with everything you’ve got. “Do hard things,” as artist/blogger John P. Weiss says. It will force you to grow, it will build your confidence, and help you become more resilient.

Stop Wasting Your Time With Losers, Or Loser Situations

Get rid of toxic people, unhealthy friendships, and dead-end relationships. Draw boundaries, don’t engage in drama, and remove yourself from situations that cause chaos and bring you grief. Real love and true friends should always make you feel valued. If a person or situation doesn’t inspire you, bring you joy, empower you, or lift you up in some way, dump them.

Fall In Love With The Process

As personal growth blogger Reece Robertson says. All rewards are found in the process, not the results. Results are important, but the process is EVERYTHING.

Your goals really shouldn’t be about dating more, or being in a relationship, or getting married. Your goals should be about developing yourself.

How you get there, and how it changes you in the process, IS the goal.

In the process of finding love, something amazing will happen: you will find yourself. You will find that you’ve grown, evolved, gotten stronger, smarter, and more loveable. You will find that you’ve gained more self-respect and dignity. In improving your chances at love, you will have actually improved yourself.

You are the most important mover of your chances to have just about everything, so get moving.