“Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present & abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to be something we are not & most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence & immobilize the essential, tidal & conversational foundations of our identity.” ~ Poet David Whyte (2015)
Vulnerability is derived from the Latin word “vulnerare” which means, “to be wounded”; a common expression of how most societies tend to perceive vulnerability; as something negative, a weakness to be avoided. In the UK, we are conditioned not to show vulnerability but to keep the British ‘stiff upper lip’ by not showing our emotions.
“There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community. “ ~ M. Scott Peck (2010)
Society tends to shun feeling & vulnerability. It promotes escapism through consumerism to distract us from feeling our truth. By avoiding our truth we let go of our autonomy. We eat, drink, shop, surf the Internet & take whatever chemicals are available to avoid feeling what lies below the surface. For us to truly connect with our vulnerability, we need to let go of the distractions & busy-ness. We need to create a container to give ourselves the time & space to feel.
“To feel is to be vulnerable.” ~ Brene Brown (2012)
We are born into this world open & vulnerable to our environment & caregivers. This vulnerability is essential to allow us to learn both consciously & unconsciously so as to increase our chances of survival.
From the age of one, we learn to modify our response to “negative cues” such as anger, disgust & fear (Hertenstein & Campos, 2001; Moses et al., 2001). Research shows that our brains are hard-wired to learn from anger & fear even more than joy when communicated by our caregivers. Although the communication of these emotions can increase our survival chances, they are frequently based on our caregivers’ own deep held fear, guilt & shame.
As we grow older, our caregivers are often unable to meet our needs, be those emotional, physical, psychological or spiritual. Instead of having our emotions validated, we are told not to feel, “Don’t cry!” “Be quiet!” or “Don’t be a baby!”
We are left feeling disappointment, anger, sadness, anxiety, shame & guilt without having the necessary tools to process them. In the absence of having the essential support & tools to notice, feel, breathe & move through these emotions, we build barriers to protect ourselves from feeling. Although conscious to begin, these barriers soon drop into the unconscious, impacting on our day-to-day lives & limiting the vast spectrum of emotions available to us. Life can become mundane, without depth & without the richness that life deserves. The subtle nuances of emotions are lost forever unless the necessary guidance is sought & the vital tools gained.
“When we feel safe enough to expose our shadows, that’s when we become free.” ~ Gabby Bernstein (2020)
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable & expose our shadows, we open to feeling. As we let go of ego defences such as numbness & disassociation, we allow ourselves to feel the emotions that may challenge us so moving the repressed emotions to the conscious. Bringing awareness to our shadows, we gift ourselves the opportunity to heal the pain. As we feel & identify the emotions, we can breathe deeply, vibrate & let the emotions go.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” ~ Brene Brown (2012)
~Let us move from the shadow into the light
~Let us drop away the unnecessary layers
~Let us discover our hidden strengths
~Let us Open to Vulnerability