Have you ever been around someone who makes you feel uncomfortable because they’re constantly spewing private information they should really keep to themselves?
I quite possibly could be this person—I’m a work in progress.
I’ve been known to overshare.
Some would say I have no filter, a big mouth, a direct personality, and some other things that aren’t appropriate for Christian reading.
Call it what you will, I’ve had to learn when to be honest and vulnerable and when to shut my mouth. It’s an art.
Too much information! We don’t have to share everything to be authentic. Being vulnerable is about seeing a moment where you can offer part of your story in order to bring connection between you and the person you’re speaking with. Sharing life and inviting someone to do the tough parts together is such a gift.
Vulnerability ignites connection and diffuses shame and isolation. Pretending to be vulnerable, or using it for your own purposes, causes people to feel uncomfortable.
The point to being vulnerable is to let people know the real you, not to make them feel awkward because you just dropped a bomb on them.
If you’re struggling to know what is vulnerability and what is TMI (too much information), remember these pointers.
If the reason you’re sharing is for shock value, attention, or putting the spotlight on yourself, then it probably isn’t about being vulnerable as much as it’s about creating a certain image.
This totally includes using “Vague-Book.” Don’t use Facebook as a platform to make evasive comments about a huge issue in your life and then say “nothing” when people ask about it. Find a real person to talk with who can help you through life’s struggles. I understand how it can be easier to put something out there and feel cared about when people are trying to help; but if you have struggled with being authentic, you will likely push the help away when it comes. I’ve been there.
Learning to voice my needs and ask for help has been a big win for me. My life is so much richer when I’m honest and invite others in.
Something else that is not cool is thinking about what you’re going to say next the entire time someone else is talking to you. This will prevent real connection and is also super embarrassing when they ask a follow up question and you have no idea what they were just saying to you. Don’t be that person.
If you’re sharing your story, or an issue you are battling, so somebody better understands you, great!
If you’re sharing your story to let someone else know they are not alone and you truly understand what they are going through, perfect!
If you’re sharing your story to give someone hope, you’re a rockstar!
Sometimes, it’s not a lack of conversation that is keeping you from an authentic conversation. The culprit could be plain old talking too much.
Talking non-stop is not the same as being vulnerable. When this happens, I sometimes have the urge to cover my ears and go running in the opposite direction. I know this sounds rude and ungodly but like I said, I’m a work in progress.
I now understand why my husband used to subtly pat my leg when I was going on and on with a story. Thank the Lord for a husband who is gentle in the way he says, “STOP TALKING WOMAN!”
If the person you’re talking with is yawning, has a glazed look, is checking their watch, falling asleep, or patting your leg, you might want to think about what you’re saying and why you’re saying it or just be quiet.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
I CRAVE real, gnarly-life conversations. I love to just roll up my sleeves and tackle this messy world with friends who have the same drive. I want to squeeze out every opportunity and blessing—God has to offer—in this life.
I truly believe there is no better way to do this than with a team of friends. Simply spending lots of time together talking is not enough for me. I want to go deep.
This is what I love most about my best friends of 20+ years. We can go months without seeing each other, but the moment we are together we pick up right where we left off, as if we were never apart. It’s because we have worked hard to keep what we have real. #myrideordie
There have been times I wanted to be “real” by saying something unkind because I was upset and felt it was my job to “help” someone see the error of their ways. I can’t excuse these comments by thinking, I’m just being honest.
If the point of what I’m saying is to ease my anxiety or anger then I’m still missing the mark. I need to make sure the things I say are true, build others up, and deepen relationships.
In the past, I’ve found myself sharing the right thing with the wrong person.
We wouldn’t want to talk about how much we enjoyed a delicious alcoholic drink with an alcoholic. We also should avoid sharing our sexual struggles with someone of the opposite sex unless it’s our spouse.
Sharing your marriage struggles is such a great step to becoming real and vulnerable, but sharing your marriage struggles with your wife’s best friend or a coworker of the opposite sex is TMI and adds a lot of risk. Not worth it. Protect your marriage and respect others personal boundaries as well.
Find people who are safe to share with and won’t add any risk of stumbling because of vulnerability.
Recognizing the difference between vulnerability and TMI is tricky.
God created us for relationship and has given each of us a valuable story only we can use to bless others. Not a single other person on this earth has our story.
God wants us to do life together and vulnerably sharing our story is part of this process. We get to experience real relationship when we share the good and the bad with each other.
I know we can trust God to help us with our words.
When the Holy Spirit is prompting you to use a hidden part of your story to help someone, go for it and watch how your relationship will become that much more real!
Ashley is the International Women's Groups Coordinator for Pure Desire. She helps churches around the world develop sexual integrity groups. She oversees all Women Regional Groups Advisors (RGAs), is a speaker, and a contributing author to Unraveled: Managing Love, Sex, and Relationships.