Sharing Vulnerably and Feeling Judged?

by Reid on November 12, 2016

Couple Arguing At BreakfastTold you’re insecure when you open up and share vulnerably? What do you do?

With Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: Someone wrote in and said, “I’ve been listening to your advice and I just put myself out there feeling really vulnerable, only to be told by my family that I’m insecure, and my husband, and that the cause behind all of our fights and pretty much all the unsuccessful talking is because of my insecurity. I felt really alone and crazy, worse than when I said nothing at all. I need guidance on how to have feelings arise and not act impulsively and know how to discuss them.”

Great questions.

Reid: This is Cathy Vartuli from the

Cathy: This is Reid Mihalko from

Reid: Your entire family, they are fools, my friend. Oh, person who just wrote in, we like you, and anyone in your family, if they came up to me, I would just say, “You are not the one I want to talk to. I want to talk to the insecure person who is using their words and speaking up, the ones you oppose. You are so wrong.” They are awesome. You are awesome. I just thought I wanted to say that.

Cathy: Yeah, I really appreciate that. It can be really scary to share vulnerably and thank you for your courage because it does make a difference in the world when you open up. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know how to handle that.

Reid: They want you the way you used to be.

Cathy: Yeah, and when people feel overwhelmed, they sometimes … like if someone shares and they don’t know what to do, it’s really common to blame and to say, “No, you’re wrong,” and the truth is, you may be feeling insecure. Insecurity is something people feel and experience.

Reid: Especially when you are being vulnerable and especially when you are being vulnerable for the first time. Who is supposed to feel confident and secure when they’re trying something new?

Cathy: When you’re doing something new, it’s really common for us … I’ve done this too where, when I was first learning to share stuff, I would jump in the deep end and I would splash around because I didn’t know what I was doing and people didn’t always receive it. Depending on the person, some people were like, “Oh that’s fantastic.” You’re actually going to get better at this because I would be kind of like all over the place.

Other people were just like, “Whoa,” so you want to hang out with people that want to hear you, and being insecure is really painful. I’ve gone through a lot of that and whatever you can do to support yourself and find people that are going to love you and help you feel like you are okay. Hanging out with people that tell you you’re not okay does not help you feel more secure. I promise you. People that are telling you you’re wrong or that there is something wrong with you, that won’t help you feel more secure.

Reid: Yeah, and that can be triggered because a lot us have to go home to our families, have to go home to our partners.

Cathy: Yeah, but we can choose how much we share with our families and there are times when it’s better to upgrade, as painful as that may sound, and I’m not saying based on what you’ve shared that that’s the case. It could also be that you might have surprised them. People that aren’t used to you sharing, if you suddenly open up they maybe just surprised and they may be fine with it a week later.

Reid: Also the sanction between … you may be sharing with them your feelings and they don’t know how to handle your feelings and that you’re having feelings is why they think you are insecure, because somebody who is secure is not rocked by anything and has no feelings.

Cathy: That’s kind of what we’re taught, John Wayne School of …

Reid: Yeah, so, oh my goodness you have complaints or things coming up for you. You ‘haz the feelz’ so you must be insecure, and that’s just a misconception. A lot of people can have that and if you mix that with your surprising them by finally finding your words, and then maybe sprinkle on top of it a little bit of, “They kind of liked you better when you were quiet,” then they are just having a reaction. What I would do if you can, because we don’t know you, is ask them for feedback. They’re like, “You’re being insecure,” and you’re like, “Okay, thank you for sharing that, but what if I’m actually not insecure, but just asking”?

Cathy: Well there can be, sharing feelings, because I’m just sharing from the perspective of someone who does get insecure sometimes, they’re sharing, “I feel vulnerable or I feel this,” versus “I feel these things and I want you to fix it,” which can be really hard for people, even pretty savvy people, to …. it’s like it’s not their job to fix it and I’ve learned to ask for reassurance specifically when I needed it. Like, “I’m feeling really insecure right now. I’m feeling like I’m not really worthwhile and I’m not really bringing a lot to this. Could you reassure me about a couple of things that you noticed that you really like about me being part of this?” That gives them very concrete things they can do and talk to versus, “I’m having all these feelings and I need someone to fix them for me,” which is more therapy/coaching type.

Reid: What’s your distinction for you personally between needing reassurance and what is insecurity, right, because some people could, like the John Wayne School is, you don’t need reassurance because you’re secure, so insecure means you need … like how does that occur to you?

Cathy: I think it’s when I feel insecure … Well, one, and I’m not from the John Wayne School. I do have feelings and I do have emotions, so I’m not exactly sure what’s going on in their heads.

Reid: I’ll tell you that was a horrible John Wayne impersonation, if you don’t know who that is.

Cathy: It was really bad, but he just had chocolate-covered espresso beans, so we have to let it go.

Reid: Explain that.

Cathy: Yeah. No, when I’m feeling insecure, the hamsters in my head are telling me that I’m not worthwhile. I don’t bring enough to counteract my awkwardness because I can be very awkward at times, or people don’t want to hear me and they could just get really loud in my head. There’s times when I wish someone else would fix it, or someone else would love me enough so I didn’t ever have those hamsters, but the truth is they’re kind of there and sometimes they are allowed and I get to deal with them, but I can certainly ask for a friend or multiple friends to help me remember what’s useful about me, what they love about me. Does that answer your question?

Reid: Yeah, I think it’s interesting to look at it from that perspective.

Cathy: Yeah, and people that are overwhelmed are more likely to hear sharing, especially if they think they’re supposed to do something, but don’t know what to do. It’s easier for them to react and say, “Oh, you’re bad for sharing this.” It’s easier to blame and push people away.

Reid: I think the big thing is, I just want to acknowledge the person who wrote in and congratulate them for finding their words and deciding to speak up. That is an act of courage and you are awesome, and these are baby steps. I think the big thing for me is I realize that when I did use my voice and speak up people, would often freak out and that that was normal. I wouldn’t freak out that they were freaking out. I wouldn’t get insecure on a good day. On a bad day, I would just get insecure. I wouldn’t get insecure when somebody would call me on my insecurity or thought I was being insecure.

I got more curious and interested and like, “Oh, so why do you say that?” and so that’s been very useful for me to ask them more about what’s going on for them because a lot of people just make decisions and they don’t know why they made the decision and the word just comes out of their mouth. Then when you ask them for more detail, they’re like, “I don’t know,” and then I’m just like, “So you don’t even know why you said that thing that you said,” which allowed me to be like, Whatever,” like, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” because something else is going on for you because you’re stuck in 7th grade where this or whatever is going on. This has less to do about me and that helped me, from my brain making it mean all these stuff.

Cathy: If you can, just be really general with your stuff, with yourself, and practice. Take baby steps with other people too, not just with your family. Most families are full of land mines. There’s all the old unresolved stuff and things people have pushed away. I encourage …

Reid: They’re not watching all these videos and [inaudible 00:09:07].

Cathy: You are, yeah. I encourage my clients to practice with friends that have been really reliable and to start with small things to build up the muscles around it and to leave the family for a little bit down the road.

Reid: Yeah, that’s advanced black belt stuff.

Cathy: Yeah, we hope this helped.

Reid: Leave comments!

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