The Power of Vulnerability
Being Authentic Supports My Life and My Relationships
- Vulnerability: Admirable; Desirable; Pleasurable.
- Meeting my Resistance
- ***Can I be Vulnerable and Receptive through Chaos and Controversy?
- Softness Becomes Me
- ***When I stop demanding others address my needs, support comes more easily to me.
- Leading with my Heart
- ***Being Vulnerable Means Being Present and Welcoming Feelings
- Cues for Vulnerability
- ***15 Words which Encourage Vulnerability
- Responding Inside
- Loving Kindness
- Take Away
Vulnerability: Admirable; Desirable; Pleasurable.
I believe vulnerability is admirable and desirable.
Not to mention, surprisingly pleasurable.
At least, for me. And when you think about it, it may be for you, as well.
It takes strength to come from an unguarded place. And, to understand that when I put my energy into inhabiting and expressing all of me — rather than hiding — I access my best.
Through generating my own permission and support, I bless myself. That vote of confidence reverberates within me. Being willing to go into unknown inside places subconsciously encourages me to access and express my truth, my talent, and my vision.
Counterintuitively, by being vulnerable I also effectively stand for myself in the world. Having the courage to allow myself to be authentic not only inspires me, but also those around me.
I become a leader. And, stop being so scared of my own shadow that I unconsciously succumb to others’ prescriptions and preferences.
Or in other words, I become a true follower. Perhaps for the very first time, I dare to follow…
MY OWN DREAMS and DESTINY.
My conditioning counsels against exposing myself, And so, the benefits I welcome may not be readily apparent.
By moving through my life with softness and receptivity, I welcome a variety of constructive dynamics.
*Centering in self trust.
*Building faith in connection.
*Blessing myself with my own esteem.
*Supporting conviction others will welcome my authenticity.
*Letting go of approval seeking.
*Not needing to take the bait.
*Responding to myself with compassion and Love.
Vulnerability also supports the following qualities.
- Pride (in the best sense of the word)
- Inner well-being.
- Diminishing regret which inevitably develops from throwing fuel on an incipient fire.
Yet, how do I move through years of indoctrination which have encouraged me to become closed and hidden?
Being vulnerable calls me to explore who I truly am.
And while of course, it’s an ongoing developmental process, I can’t be open with others until I’m open with myself.
Which invites a classic chicken and egg conundrum. Investigating myself requires courage. I gain courage by exploring myself and accepting what I find.
Carrying myself with what I call ‘centered vulnerability’ stands as a real possibility only as long as I understand how to shift my belief that being “strong” equates with being defended and hard — or has anything at all to do with avoiding anything.
Meeting my Resistance
In 13 Words to Remind us that Being Soft is a Superpower — which motivated me to write this article — Elephant Journal’s @Juliana Otis introduces a beautiful affirmation,
“My love, you are water. You were never meant to be hard.”
Yet, how do I remain soft when it seems the world — and some of the people in it — attack me, belittle me, and try to bring me down? How to remain assured and vulnerable even as I feel unheard and unseen — when my Loving nature gets distorted and misunderstood?
Well, by devoting space for anything and everything I might discover inside. Even, material I have felt obligated previously to bury or banish. Especially, unknown territory — which I call, “The Sacred Unknown™.”
A surprisingly challenging barrier to being vulnerable is my response to myself.
If I access parts of who I am which I don’t yet know, will I be able to hold onto my identity? Will I be able to maintain connection as I’ve known connection to be?
One of my principles may be of service.
“Faith only matters when you don’t have it!™”
Almost anyone can be soft when engulfed by supportive dynamics — when caring family and friends afford assured connection.
The important question becomes…
Can I be vulnerable and receptive through chaos and controversy?
The skill of being vulnerable starts with embracing parts of myself I find distressing. Or, with allowing myself to be inwardly welcoming even as I access feelings which terrify me.
After all, feelings are feelings. Allowing them can’t hurt me.
However, repressing them can.
My most terrifying feelings revolve around fearing not being Loved or not being Love-able.
The more I integrate feelings which I characteristically have regarded as ‘unsurvivable’, the more I start to understand that my categorization of ‘un-survivability’ stems from times in my early childhood when I might well not have survived if I hadn’t been held, cared for, or responded to in Love.
Of course, it’s a process.
Exploring how to respond from compassion within myself — and then, with empathy toward others — empowers me to remain open when dysfunction invokes defense. Otherwise, striving for vulnerability is like declaring I should “Love myself” without having a clue as to how.
Softness Becomes Me
In my spiritual teachings, I unravel the specific mechanisms involved in ‘How to Love Yourself!”
Being soft stands as a noble intention and desirable state. After all, as The Elephant Journal article puts into context, self compassion empowers me to be myself.
Mark Twain adds useful perspective.
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Other than to tell the truth, of course.
My take on his aphorism: when I am myself — when I am authentic, truthful, transparent — I don’t have to worry about presenting myself as something I’m not. I don’t have to defend myself. I don’t have to remember to uphold a self deceptive facade.
I prioritize meeting whatever I’m feeling with acceptance, understanding, and empathy.
In this context, I can allow myself to feel terrified. Or, to yearn for support. Or, even to know I’m feeling desperate because I feel ‘unLoved’.
By receiving my own distress, I relax my insistence that people around me assuage my futility and desperation. Doing so is up to me. By taking responsibility, I unravel my reflexive need to ‘attack’ and ‘blame.’ After all, in the end, blame is merely an ineffective reaction; fury over feeling un-recognized as the Loving being I know myself to be. When I know I am Loving — when I have Love for myself no matter what — there is no need to attack.
I begin to understand nothing inside me merits self condemnation. Every part of me generates from Loving intention. Everything inside me is Love.
By offering and receiving my own Love, I begin to learn to turn within. Especially when the people around me do not seem able to hold me, holding myself becomes essential. The more I fill myself with validation and acceptance, the less pressure I put on the outside world to fill my emptiness. Indeed, I feel much less empty.
Interestingly, when I stop demanding others address my needs, they begin to offer me blessed support all on their own.
Furthermore, no longer suffering from the obligation to win approval, I release the agonizing burden of being ‘found out.’
I become more accustomed to welcoming my inner life.
And, because I cannot embrace my inner life without simultaneously embracing the inner lives of others, my connections become deeper and more genuine.
I begin to organize myself around trust and surrender.
Leading with my Heart
Without a doubt, there are times when protection and defense not only become necessary, but all important.
Yet, these times are almost certainly fewer than I imagine.
As everybody does, I remember having been hurt. So much so, in fact, I anticipate my wounding experiences will repeat and resonate throughout my life — even dominate. Coming from softness and receptivity enables me to respond in presence rather than to react according to patterned beliefs.
It just so happens that even when fulfillment and reward stand waiting in front of me, I may project disappointment and calamity. Sometimes, I can’t see the opportunity. Sometimes, I can see it, yet can’t allow myself to receive it.
Because I’m busy experiencing having already been hurt, I call my past into my present. I interpret current circumstances in ways which recall my distress.
Developing the courage to allow myself to experience what’s here now becomes key. Allowing new interpretations to register empowers me to start building a library of rewarding experiences to draw from distinct from those which previously hurt me.
Though it may feel counterintuitive, one way through is consciously to remain vulnerable.
From my experience as former ski instructor, I know beginning skiers almost never look for safety ahead. In order to resist the danger of slipping down the hill, instincts dictate leaning back away from the slope. Yet, safety lies in leaning forward in order to use front ski edges skis to bite into the snow.
By leaning into my experiences, I empower myself to respond to what’s present. I open myself to engage with what’s coming to me, and embrace possibilities which support me in new ways.
Having the courage to lead with my heart enables me to ‘be with’ what is, to welcome rewarding connection as it develops — and, as well, to sense when to protect myself should things become unsafe.
If I’m hiding behind a facade — if I’m defended and hard — I’m dooming myself to meeting new circumstances using old mechanisms. And, I’m shutting off my capacity to tell the difference between previous disappointments and current prospects.
Being vulnerable means being present and welcoming feelings.
As a human being I am meant to feel. My feelings stand as necessary and valuable; essential elements which generate crucial information.
It’s a matter of learning to respond by establishing a home for my feelings inside myself — no longer shutting down or shutting off, as I have been conditioned to do.
Every feeling I welcome enhances my wellbeing. Every feeling invites integration and wholeness.
Cues for Vulnerability
Of course, there is more to embracing ‘centered vulnerability’ than can be shared in one relatively brief treatment.
Still, in claiming softness — especially when hardness threatens to carry the day — it can help to have at the ready inspiring words to remind me.
When I think, or say, a word — truly express it with connection and conviction (receptivity helps here) — I become that word. I immediately embody its inherent quality.
‘Language-ing’ empowers me to access my desired state.
Remember, at least in the immediate present, I assume the state I experience.
And so, especially when I feel triggered or distressed, I find it useful to keep on hand — or in my mind — a list of evocative words which inspire humility and humanity.
15 Words which Encourage Vulnerability
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Reading through them guides me toward having empathy for myself, toward being with my feelings, and orients me toward peace.
I find it helps me to access this list at almost any time at all, yet especially when I feel…
- Rage and resentment welling up.
- An urge to escalate.
- An impulse to cover my terror.
- An intention to inject tone and words which might destroy.
I feel calmer.
I reinforce faith in myself — and in others.
I tap into self-respect, and respect for who I’m with.
I remind myself I’m connected, not alone.
The surest way to receive unconditional Love is to send unconditional Love.
To the world.
Or, to one person I have been filled with resentment against.
Buddhists know this.
Hence, Buddhists sit in “Loving Kindness” meditations.
As I send out Loving Kindness, I also fill myself with Loving Kindness. When I’m filled with Loving Kindness, I can’t help but be vulnerable. When I’m vulnerable, I experience at least some form of every word on my list.
I use these 15 words as a kind of Loving Kindness meditation.
A tribute to vulnerability.
I am in charge of me. You are in charge of you.
By taking responsibility for myself and for the relationship path I trod, I diminish attack and blame and increase curiosity and connection. Feelings — even the most ‘fear producing’/‘courage inducing’ feelings — call out to be embraced. Transparent sharing empowers symbiotic witnessing.
When feelings meet acceptance and receptivity, vulnerability becomes a source of expansion and pleasure; a foundation for togetherness and union.
I not only review my list when issues arise, but also while pressure is off — as introspective inquiry and self awareness focus my intention. By securing these words in my consciousness, I trust these vulnerability cues will be at my disposal when needed.
See you ‘round the ‘vulnerability’ bend!
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