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We Are All Born Vulnerable
“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” — Brené Brown
What do you associate with vulnerability? Perhaps weakness, fear, hurt or betrayal. These are the deep-seated emotions people experience when they reveal aspects of themselves. Let’s be clear. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness and can be your greatest strength. Someone who knows a lot about vulnerability is research professor and author Brené Brown who writes in Rising Strong: “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” Vulnerability is a double-edged sword. Those who protect themselves to avoid getting hurt, fail to appreciate intimacy and close relationships. Everyone is vulnerable, no matter how much they try to avoid it. We are born vulnerable and stay that way for our entire childhood. Our relationship with vulnerability is something we are acquainted with, yet abandon as we merge into adulthood. Our association with vulnerability requires a shift in awareness in order to strengthen our emotional well-being. It is no use erecting barricades while hoping at the same time others will see the blossoming flower within. The wall we construct prevents our true nature from being known to others. It was Rumi who said: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” This is why we must accept our vulnerability if we wish to live a wholesome life. Even the smallest act of letting down our guard is a commitment to our personal growth. How do you feel about this? Do you express your vulnerability with those you know and trust? How is it received?
Embrace Your Fractured Parts
“What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.” — Haruki Murakami
Vulnerability is an act of courage because we merge with our authentic self, instead of hiding behind a facade to appease others. It is within the unknown where our greatest potential lies. Human nature is imperfect, yet the paradox is that we are whole within that sphere of imperfection. To embrace vulnerability as our greatest strength, we’ll need to become aware of our pain points. Retaliation leads to suffering, since we are likely to defend our pain like a wounded animal. Neuropsychologist Mario Martinez captures the essence of this idea in his book: The MindBody Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success where he writes:“The wound you choose in order to interpret your pain becomes a shield of protection against forgiving, because releasing your grudge means being vulnerable again.” Vulnerability involves healing our fractured parts by merging with the wholeness of our being. Consider it akin to a jigsaw puzzle strewn across the floor. Some might say the puzzle is incomplete given the pieces are lying on the floor. However, by gathering them together we create the entire picture once more. That is the heart of our life story. We have disowned our fractured parts, instead of trying to piece them together. We are all a masterpiece; a Rembrandt replete with perfection. Yet, we focus on our brokenness in the same way as a cracked oil painting when exposed to the elements. The painting is no less beautiful because of its flaws. It is upon examining it up close we recognise the defects, while ignoring the complete picture. “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging,” affirms Brené Brown. Are you beginning to see how vulnerability can be your greatest assest and not something to hide behind or diminish your self-worth?
How To Heal The Pain
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Hellen Keller
To heal our pain requires a process of self-examination. We ought to become curious why we react when our pain buttons are triggered. Every person has pain thresholds. If left unchecked, they become inflamed and dominate our emotional landscape, not to mention our physical health. The moment we heal the pain, we reintegrate it into the wholeness of our being. Suffering ensues when we focus on our sorrow, instead of appreciating the beauty and richness of our complete self. It is as though we are looking through a magnifying glass on our shattered parts. We give them more attention than they deserve, so others are made aware of our weaknesses too. Our shadows are one aspect of our character. When healed, we come to realise the completeness of our being. Therefore, we must become students of vulnerability by taking small risks. This act of self-renewal shines a light on our fractured parts, and is brought to our awareness and seen for what it is; a smokescreen. Similarly, we must be wary of the ego and its aversion to being vulnerable. The ego likes to protect its image and vulnerability is a crack in its armour. It signifies weakness and will do everything to defend itself. That is why our greatest triumph will arise when we lean in to our vulnerabilities with openness and compassion. There is nothing to defend nor protect, for the egoic voice has merely taken command and insisted on protecting us from getting hurt. I wish to leave you with a passage from Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong in which she writes: “I was reminded that shame is a liar and a story-stealer. I have to trust myself and the people I care about more than the gremlins, even if that means risking being hurt.” The gremlins she speaks of is the small self preventing our magnificence being known. We must trust our heart’s wisdom and its real essence, not the voice in our head. It is only then we will appreciate how vulnerability is a commanding act of strength and courage.