This is a fascinating story that Amanda Palmer tells in this video, as many Ted Talks are. I find a lot of valuable ideas here if one is interested in getting in touch with and retaining a sense of vulnerability.
First, notice her desire for eye contact. I know that before I discovered living vulnerably and shame free that I avoided it, and I notice it with others when they don’t talk to my eyes. I think we all do it to some extent. Try eye contact consciously over the next couple days. If, like me, you are hearing impaired and have taken a bit to reading lips, still, try moving your eyes between the lips and eyes. It is a wonderfull way to connect with people.
Second, Amanda has given herself to asking. In the video, she shares about the one band member who was hesitant to walk among the crowd and ask for donations. It reminded me of the first time I did it as a member of Island Shakespeare Fest. I felt the same way her band member did, but realized that there was a huge difference. If I’m begging, there is no exchange. A beggar gives nothing in return. As for our Shakespeare troupe, we had rehearsed for months, outside, in the rain and cold, to be able to present the best free, outdoor Shakespeare show possible. So it was fair to ask. Can you see the vulnerability in asking? When you have hat in hand, you make contact, you open yourself to the possibility of the shaming “Get a job” experience Amanda explains in the video.
One other benefit of this eye contact and asking is it creates community. ‘Asking is connecting, connecting is opening the heart.’
Those with egos and a sense of celebrity will find this difficult to do. As Amanda demonstrated though, it creates a community that wants to give. The community brings the food, they provide shelter, and the musicians Amanda invited are out front playing for donations, they play later on stage, and everyone gets what they want/need. A small economy develops.
One thing that will stop me from doing this asking, this connecting, is shame. I liked how Amanda used the word “fearlessly” in this video. I think I develop into that place of fearlessness, as I take timid baby steps and see that being vulnerable and open and asking works. People want to give. When Petra Martin started Whidbey CareNet she went out and asked local health care providers if they wanted to contribute their services. They replied with a resounding “Yes!” They wanted to give freely to others who gave of themselves. What Petra and I have seen as Co-Directors of Whidbey CareNet is the difficulty that emergency responders have in receiving free care. I suspect part of the reason is shame. That part of me that believes I’m not worth this free gift of someone’s service. I want you to know that toxic shame of that sort is a lie.
So today, can you look someone in the eyes while you talk with them? Can you ask for something you need? Are you willing to be open and vulnerable and fearless in that way? Are you willing to begin dismantling the shame that binds you?
Let me know. I have a comment section I moderate, and I’d love to see a community discussion about vulnerability, and living shame free. If you have resources to suggest, by all means do do.