I have long been fascinated by the concept of vulnerability. As a young woman learning to navigate career challenges, strength and independence were the main goals. My mantras were “Do not show signs of weakness” and “Do not fail”. So I figured it out on my own. I was once told that my “independence was threatening to those around me”. I took being independent and invulnerable very seriously!
What I didn’t understand then, but do now is that it was okay for me to ask for help, admit when I was struggling, and be okay with mistakes. To admit that I was afraid or felt vulnerable was not an option for me, or so I thought.
Being vulnerable is a step towards self-empowerment.
The paradox lies in the view that you are made weak by sharing your failures, mistakes, and insecurities. But, the opposite is true, being vulnerable is a step towards self-empowerment. However, questions of safety, other’s judgment, and your own judgment come up. It is hard to expose parts of yourself you would rather keep hidden. After all, you and I want our friends and family to see us in a certain way, i.e. the helper, the successful one, the independent one.
I have seen people resort to extreme behaviour(s) to hide their vulnerabilities. Here are a few examples:
• Addictions – Eating, Smoking, Drinking, Exercise, Shopping, Complaining, Sex
• Toxic Positivity – nothing is ever wrong
• Creating barriers between self and others
• Using humour, never being serious
The list goes on and I am certain each one of you could add to it.
One of the major lessons I have learned about vulnerability is that it takes courage beyond measure to face those dark places in yourself where you have buried shameful, humiliating, even traumatic situations. You may even blame yourself for what has transpired.
Usually, these experiences occurred some time ago and shaped how you see yourself. They are rooted in the past but influence how you view yourself in the present. Perhaps, these past events even affect how you think the world sees you.
And, the likelihood is that you are nothing like the perceptions you created out of these past situations!
You may feel powerless, ashamed, insecure, stuck, lost, sad, or lonely. These feelings are not always conscious, but it is like a computer operating system, always running in the background.
To free yourself from seeing vulnerability as a weakness or something to hide, you need to open yourself to those past hurts. It is so important to allow the sensations to rise in your body, feel them, and sit with them.
Your first instinct will be to repress them, to run away from them, to cover them over with activity of any kind. Try something different. Become a compassionate observer and experience these reactions with curiosity.
Observe the feelings. Bear witness to the way your body needs to express itself. Allow compassion for yourself to come to the forefront, but do not become the emotion. Nevertheless, experiencing the emotion(s) is part of the way the body is able to release them.
An anonymous source put it like this:
Sit with it…
Instead of drinking it away, smoking it away, sleeping it away, eating it away, f*&!ing it away, or running from it, sit with it. Healing happens by feeling.
Sit with it…
As you sense the emotions, be gentle, soft, kind, tender, and loving with yourself. Take the time you need, don’t rush the experience. This act of self-love may be new to you. You might feel the need to journal, cry, scream, or move to help the energy release. Whatever resonates with you will be the perfect choice.
Then let someone in. Share your vulnerabilities, little by little.
You and I cannot do this alone. You need a support system, a team or a person who knows you and will hold you accountable to be your most authentic self. Scary, yes, but rewarding without question.
You will feel the expansion of your heart and soul as you share with someone, releasing your secrets into the universe and allowing them to transmute into something dazzling. You will experience relief and freedom. It will be like setting off fireworks.…bursts of breath-taking beauty, colour, and magic.