“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I think this change of perception towards yourself is a very hard concept when healing from abuse. I wrote in an earlier blog, that the experience of being abused can destroy your self-confidence, your self-worth. It can warp and destroy your self-image, and create a false perspective in life, making the fish in you believe it is stupid for not being able to climb a tree.
Like the fish in the quote above, you have been judged by unfair standards. Perhaps all your life. You have been told you are not good enough, and not only told, but made to believe it. But once you realize that you are not a fish (ie- you were not in the wrong in this situation, you ARE good enough, life can be beautiful and you can find someone who will love and respect you), you begin to view yourself in a more fair light. You begin to set boundaries and demand the respect that allows others to judge you as you are, not as you have been told to be.
When you’ve experienced hurt, opening up again can be very difficult. It is not easy to trust people again, to love fully, to live with an open heart. Letting people in, and knowing that not everyone will hurt you is not an easy concept to grasp. The struggle is to learn to identify the ones to stay away from; the ones who won’t respect the boundaries you set, the decisions you make. You learn to stay away from the people who don’t support you, who don’t love you enough to help you through your battles. You pick the people who lift you up, who help see you for how you truly are: a person with flaws, yes, but with a beautiful gift to offer to the world.
Brené Brown is a psychologist who studies human connection and what makes people feel fulfillment in life. What she found, ultimately, was that the ability to make oneself vulnerable to life- to open up to the possibility of hurt- actually makes people happier. When you numb yourself to one emotion-pain, disappointment, etc. (perhaps through drugs, sex, etc.)- you numb yourself to joy, to happiness, to wonder; to all the things that make life worth living.
The video below is Brown’s talk given to the TED conference in Houston. It discusses the power of vulnerability, and the positive effect being vulnerable can have on each of our lives. The message is beautiful and I wanted to share it.
I know it’s hard to open up again, to trust again, after you have suffered the trauma of abuse. But being vulnerable, taking that risk with your heart-whether it’s opening up to new friends, new romantic relationships, that conversation you didn’t think you had the courage to have- can be terrifying. But if you don’t take that risk, that leap of faith, if you numb yourself to vulnerability, you also numb yourself to the possibility of success, the possibility of fulfillment.