Sharing your story. Wisely.

I am sure that many of you are familiar with Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability? If you aren’t, I will attach a YouTube link or two at the end of this post for you to watch. It will be well worth your time. I promise. 🙂
Brene Brown speaks a lot about allowing yourself to be vulnerable but she does always have one warning that she attaches to her messages. To share your vulnerability with the right people.

The shopkeepers don’t need to hear our private thoughts.
Some poor bloke at a bus stop certainly doesn’t want to know about what you did last night (unless you are including him tonight).
Even family members, some friends, or our partners are not always the right people to share your story with.

To share your story with the right person at the right time is a huge gift to you both. To find someone who cares but won’t pity you. To have a person who can hold that sacred space for you without jumping in to make it all better long before you’ve even really shared all that you want to share. To know that your shared information will not be shared further than you allow is a huge gift. Free but priceless.

I’ve never heard Brene Brown speak of this but I am sure she would agree that there are also different levels of sharing that can be acceptable and positive with different people. She might have a whole series out about this. I just haven’t found it yet. STILL LOOKING! 😉

I have MANY levels of sharing.
Acquaintances don’t get much outside of kind words and a positive exchange. They have done nothing to deserve to hear my story. I haven’t done anything to deserve hearing theirs either.
Friends and family know little bits. I share what I feel safe in sharing which is also highly dependant on what they are willing to share with me. If someone is clammed up all the time with me, I see no need to blabber away myself. I am not being mean here. It’s just another level. You can have a lot of great chats with these people and they can be incredibly important to you but that still doesn’t mean they have earned the right to your sacred trust. Once again, that goes both ways.
Then there is therapy. If you have a GOOD therapist, sharing should be a really important part of your  time together. I tend to share the nitty-gritty, really gross stuff with my therapist. They are trained to hear it and hopefully do enough proper self-care to avoid being vicariously traumatized. This person for as important as they are, still don’t always get to know everything though. Since they do not share with me, it is not a truly reciprocal relationship (and it’s not meant to be). They deserve to hear my story but I still leave some really personal information out of their reach.

So who do you share everything with? I don’t think there are many people who earn the gift of hearing our whole story. I think for most everyone, this is a small group of really special people. I call them my “Soul Sisters”.
These are people who share with me as well. We know each others best days and worst days. We would NEVER use information from either to hurt each other.
I have a seriously nasty story. I know very few people who have ever experienced what I have and I am happy for that fact even if it is very lonely at times. I do not wish that life on to anyone. Every human alive deserves better. If you are one of the few that has lived the worst of the worst of the worst? I am sorry to hear that and I wish you continued healing.

Truly sharing my story with anyone is a big deal. They need to earn my trust, my respect and I need to know that they will believe me.
I write this blog today to encourage all of you to make sure that the people who deserve to hear your story do but the ones that have not earned that, need your silence about deeper topics. Choose wisely or you can be hurt further.

I do not feel that I can say it any better than Brene Brown herself so here are links to her talk about the power of vulnerability and also a video of who not to share your story with. I found them both incredibly enlightening and they helped me set healthier boundaries. That is something I was not accustomed to doing. I’m learning though! 🙂

10 responses to “Sharing your story. Wisely.

  1. I love Brene Brown. I could listen to her for hours! She has really helped me to deal with the horrible shame I have around things that have happened to me.

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  2. I watched/listened to her lecture on vulnerability and it was well worth my time. I really related to much of what she said, perhaps especially about numbing out all one’s emotions. I’ve been wondering where my joy and other positive emotions have gone, along with my sense of self. I’m guilty of numbing out – even on medications that help numb anxiety and depression. I don’t know how to get back to who I used to be — perhaps being vulnerable within the safety of therapy. Anyway, this was an important post to me. 🙂

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  3. Yes! I LOVE Brené Brown and I’ve read and seen everything of hers I can find. Her research around shame and vulnerability has been profoundly helpful for me. This particular topic – minding who you share what with – has truly helped me battle the loneliness that comes with having a horrific story. So there’s this idea that it’s not so much that I *can’t* share my story with everyone, it’s that they haven’t earned the right to hear it yet. I like that much better. 🙂

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  4. I agree that we should carefully pick and choose who we will share our stories with. I have told a lot of mine on Retreats with senior high school boys so they can learn from it, and they consider everything told to them as secret and sacrosanct. With my friends, I parcel it out. Only my daughter knows all of it.

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  5. Just.
    Wow.

    I had never heard of Brené Brown, but I learned so much from listening to her, particularly what she said to Oprah Winfrey. I don’t want to be ‘those’ friends. And I want authenticity in my relationships.
    I perhaps need to read that book!
    Thanks for posting these videos, Heather!

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