Sometimes you’re going along life and something reaches into your little cave and just smacks you on your face?
Brene Brown’s idea of the Vault (not sharing experiences that are not ours to share) which is the V in her Braving guidelines, smacked me in my cave face when I read it;; it simultaneously hearkened all to one place, about a thousand little irksome confusions I’d had, and it illuminated a better path.
But before that whole glorious path illumination doves flying in thing happened, I got a proper face whacking.
Have you ever actually been whapped in the face? It’s so shocking, and personal and kind of sends you reeling. When I realized that I had been using other people’s private stories to gain connection with my friends, even though they were not my stories, and they had been told to me in confidence, I wanted to dig a new cave, inside my old cave, a deeper cave, a shamier shame cave.
As a storyteller, I’d simply chose to err on the side of telling whatever story illuminated the point I was trying to make, without ever considering how this might affect my trustworthiness or the quality of my connections. For example, I tell Jane, my besty best friend, a juicy Going On of an acquaintance of ours - we squeal, we feel connected to each other, and it jumpstarts us talking and sharing. But it’s a fake short cut to true connection because even though Jane may have temporarily enjoyed that snuggly gossip time, somewhere in her, she lost a little bit more trust in me, and my ability to own my own story and hold space for others to transmute and explore where they are in their stories, by sharing and playing with me, in confidence.
In spiritual terms, I see the vault as a kind of useful dead zone where one can experience, fully, without fear of being seen or judged, whatever is going on for them, with the intention that the feelings get to move forward and they can walk away having upshifted into more clarity, ease and loving perspective. It’s a tool for honoring that we have to meet life wherever it’s really happening and a grumpy feeling about a housemate, if properly engaged, can be the most direct path back to alignment. But if you have a wonderful vault moment of processing with a friend, and you move on where you remember how to be grateful and to love conditionlessly and your energy shifts, but then your friend shares your woes with the world, and it comes back to you, it now anchors the entire community in your struggle instead of in your movement forward, which is the opposite of true growth.
We’ve got to get better at positive gossipping, about telling tall tales of each other’s possibility. “I’m having so much fun dreaming about Sandra’s new Hot Air Balloon School for Poets of a Certain Inclination! It’s so fun to imagine her running it. I love seeing her face so full of confidence and satisfaction.”
The notion of The Vault was also useful to reconsider certain practices that have served me enormously but that do not lend themselves to broad sharing. I’m thinking specifically of Byron Katie’s “The Work” or the Feel Your F%*^ing Feelings technique or Ho’oponopono. All designed to use an irksome moment with someone else to tunnel into your true experience. I call these turning buttons into portals. But they’re surely not what they’re about. It’s just where your human apparatus is encountering resistance to the divine flow. I remember my younger sister found a Work worksheet in the trash that I had done on her, and she felt so wildly hurt, as I felt betrayed. My Vault had been broken.
The Vault maybe wants a better word, now that I think about it because everything that properly goes in there changes and is mutated by the love, safety and total presence it receives in there. Maybe it’s a vault on an inter dimensional boat? Or it’s a basket on a hot air balloon and the more fully we engage the safe, locked down moment, and release and allow ourselves to feel and move through, the more the balloon rises?
Cuz here’s the real kicker. We never, not for a second, stay the same. We are filaments of an ever expanding universe. If I use someone else’s temporary tale, I am putting out a story into the world, that was only true for a second and they’ve likely grown past it by the time I’m using it as a gossip coin.
And, we’re co-creating each other folks. Abraham jokingly suggests an experiment where you take your favoritist person in the world and each day think of 10 things you don’t like about them. Then take your most not favorite person and each day find 10 things you do like about them and they’ll soon shift places in your mind. When I walk into a room and folks have been talking smack about me I either want to start throwing punches or run away. The force of their judgement and ill will is palpable to my sensitive little heart. We don’t even have to hear smack talk to feel it. Likewise, how good does it feel to walk into a situation where people are singing your praises? You feel like you just got a bounce assist on a trampoline.
Fullest disclosure: this is a growth curve for me. Anyone who knows me knows that my motto has been, “I don’t do secrets” and if you tell me something I’m going to use it how I want to, but now I think having a better hot air balloon/ever rising vault sounds fun and nice.
It sounds like a very wonderful friend to true intimacy. And a good friend to my truest heart too.
Check out the last post in this series or the next one