“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
― Brené Brown
Whenever we experience what we perceive to be a negative emotion or feeling, our instinct is to avoid it. We just want it to go away. Anger, sadness, shame or guilt, they all have the same impact on us, they remind us of our vulnerability. We don’t want to be vulnerable. We want to be ‘strong’, ‘capable’ and ‘able’ in our relationships, our work, home life and in everything we do. One moment we feel self assured, the next vulnerable. We wonder where the self assured person has gone to, how did we lose him/her, how can we get them back.
The reality is we haven’t lost anything. Something just happens and we react. Maybe we got caught up in a tough conversation with someone, some bad news, negative feedback from a manager or being ignored in a social setting. It might hurt us and our ground shakes. We just don’t like how that feels. We reject it and want to put our ‘best foot forward’. And the impact of the negative feeling stays with us for hours, days, weeks, even years.
During these times what you are probably unaware of is how feeling vulnerable can empower you. What is it telling you? What does this part of you want you to know?
What would you do if you saw a child or defenceless person under threat, vulnerable? You might want to step in and provide care and attention to the situation. You might want to get help from somewhere or someone. The same response can be offered to you and the vulnerable state that you find yourself in.
Rejecting the vulnerability that emerges in you only continues to cause the same struggle and uncontrollable negative emotions and feelings that you experience. Putting a front on and trying to be the strong one at any cost. Whilst doing this may offer temporary relief, the avoidance of how you really feel only allows the suffering linger.
So what’s the solution?
Well of course you can ‘chose an alternative reaction’ in a given situation. Easier said then done you may think? But that’s for another day, for further exploration, for another blog!
For now, you feel vulnerable. Can you allow it be there? Care for it, support it and give it your attention. Find more ways to mind yourself. This is the first stage in stepping back in to yourself and allowing other parts (that you thought you had lost) simply emerge, a self assured, confident you.
How do you give it your attention?
One way to explore how you can focus your attention is to first notice any discomfort in your body. This allows you connect with the vulnerable reaction/feeling you’re having. Following your breathing or an external sound can be helpful in supporting you in focusing your attention. Second, give the discomfort your deliberate attention. Where can you really feel it in your body? This allows you connect with the vulnerable reaction/feeling in a more conscious and open way. Third, be patient. If you feel nothing is happening, come back to it and follow the two steps again and again. Soon the discomfort will ease. With practice you will become more accepting of your vulnerable self and see it as a part of you that just wants your attention.
When you embrace and accept your vulnerability, you are empowered to experience self assuredness and confidence in a more authentic way. You are on the path to true self-acceptance, of all that is you.