What is vulnerability?
Vulnerability is a state of emotional exposure that comes with some degree of uncertainty. It is the brevity of expressing one’s emotions without fear of being seen as weak.
Why are we avoiding vulnerability?
With the psychological need for security and safety, many people fear having their emotions, thoughts, or feeling exposed. So they create boundaries and defenses to give themselves some safe space. Unfortunately, those boundaries are not just providing the safety net for them from getting hurt but also barring them from intimacy, authenticity, and happiness.
How do we create those defenses?
It is the instinct of all beings to avoid pain and seek pleasure. When we were young and naive, we explored and experienced the world through a more positive lens.
Seeing through the lens of a little child
Children get in touch with their feeling and emotion. If we notice, we will see how little kids ask questions out of curiosity. Knowing the answer right away seems more important to them than maintaining a cool look. They express their honest feeling and emotions without restraint. And they share their opinion candidly without fear of losing face. We were all like that once when we were little. And we sometimes sarcastically call that ‘naive’ instead of ‘honestly.’
Why do we turn to hostility instead of vulnerability?
Unfortunately, we are not living in an ideal world. We live with mentally or emotionally imbalanced people around us and including us, who may project their anger and miseries onto us through bullying, abusive behaviors, or mal teaching. And that is how we gradually learn to create defenses to survive.
The mechanism becomes the habit, then second nature
As we grow up, we are used to living with more and more defenses we have created along the way. Those defenses become a part of us and our shells. We think we are safe in there. Little that we know: we are getting further away from our authenticity, emotions, and being human.
It is two sides of a coin. We can’t fend off emotions without losing the ability to feel. So what happens is: we deliberately block our empathy and compassion. And that is not limited to the ability to empathize with others and feel compassion for others. It includes the inability for self-compassion and self-empathy too. What is worst? With all those behaviors, we unknowingly repel healthy relationships and good connections from our lives.
So, what are the most common areas where people feel vulnerable and choose to live in their defenses?
In most cases, we create defense out of fear. So what are they?
- Taking chances that may lead to rejection: Fear of Rejection
- Talking about our mistakes: Fear of being judged
- Sharing personal information: Fear of being judged and getting hurt
- Feeling difficult emotions like fear, grief, shame: Fear of getting hurt
- Expressing love and care to someone important: Fear of getting hurt, rejection, losing freedom
- Reconnecting with people who we have fallen out with: Fear of rejection, change
- Being honest about what we want in any relationship: Fear of rejection, being judged
- Fighting for our dream and aspiration: Fear of failure
- Asking for help: Fear of rejection, losing freedom
What are the benefits of vulnerability?
Reconnect with our true nature
The utmost benefit is getting in touch with who we are: our natures and souls. When we open our hearts to feel emotions, to acknowledge our fears, we reconnect with our pure existence and authentic selves. We can recognize our sensitivity and sensibility through emotions and feelings. These occurrences manifest themselves when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
Fears stop us from being vulnerable by creating defenses and boundaries so we cannot feel or acknowledge any emotions that could hurt us. However, these shells prevent us from feeling the positive sides of life too. We can’t fully feel joy, love, and freedom while we restrain from expressing and experiencing some feelings and emotions.
Acknowledging the pain of being vulnerable and understanding that all emotions, miseries, or happiness are bound to arise and end at any moment helps us become free. We can live fully in the moment at present, good or bad. We leave out our expectation to get something in return or anticipate some outcomes we cannot control while enjoying the moment and being honest with who we are and how we feel. That’s the greatest freedom one can have: to feel and express how we feel.
Become whole and become a better person
When we get in touch with our authentic selves and become true to ourselves, we leave out the thorns we used to fend people off. We don’t need to be rude to protect ourselves. We do not feel the need to repel people to maintain our freedom. In social events, we don’t automatically turn cold shoulders on people we meet to avoid being rejected or judged. We can be genuine, kind, and empathetic by nature. We are not afraid of being seen.
Better relationship and connectedness
With liberation, we attract people of the same energy to our lives. People who care and admire us for who we are, not who we pretend to be. And even when people judge us or take advantage of our vulnerability, give ourselves some respect. Do not change into someone we are not only because someone turns their dark side on us.
Be true to yourself no matter what. It is better to live our authenticities fully despite some disappointments than live a secure life burying our genuine selves and becoming unhappy. That’s when we fully accept ourselves and learn that we are enough.
And when we arrive at that point, we will stop screaming and offending people. On the other hand, we will be able to listen to others, empathize with them, be kind, and be beautiful from within.
People who embrace their vulnerability and dare to show up vulnerable are the true conqueror. They do not conquer any external wars with others. On the other hand, they win the war within themselves: showing up vulnerable, risking judgment, and be true to themselves.Annie Shanya Srithanyarat