“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
Vulnerability feels horrendous
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It feels like we are exposed, bare and at risk of suffering. It is frightening, plain and simple.
It is no wonder that most of us spend our lives trying to outrun it, to repress it, to cover it up and build multiple shields (e.g. perfectionism to stop ourselves from being judged or causing hurt) to stop the rawness from entering in. We just do not want to accept it.
Nonetheless, the truth is we are all vulnerable and no matter what we do this fact of life will never change.
You can be vulnerable at anytime
We are vulnerable to illness, to being judged, to losing everything we love, to experiencing pain and suffering and failure (Thich Nhat Hanh, 2012).
Not one of us can escape such inevitabilities of life.
How can we live the life we always dreamed of when we are constantly looking over our shoulder and trying to keep the painful emotions that make us feel naked at arms length? We can’t. It’s just not possible.
It is a battle we can never win.
Feelings of security that we gain from trying to stop vulnerability sneaking in are transient. It is all they can ever be due to the dynamic and uncertain nature of life.
Accepting that you’re vulnerable
The only way to true lasting freedom is to stop running, to turn and face our biggest fears and accept that we are vulnerable human creatures.
We need to learn how to sit with our fears and penetrate through them to that rawness. That is where the beauty of life is found and where true inner strength resides.
When we can tolerate the feeling of being bare and uncomfortable we free ourselves to create a life that fear stops us from reaching – a life filled with “Courage, purpose and connection.” (Brown, 2012).
In order to delve deep into the corners of ourselves that frighten us we have to learn to practice compassion, defined by Gilbert and Choden (2015) as a way “To develop the kindness, support and encouragement to promote the courage we need – to take the actions we need – in order to promote the flourishing and well-being of ourselves and others.”
Not allowing your emotions to get the best of you
Compassion provides a more comfortable seat from which to experience vulnerability and softens the sting of hard emotions. As with all things, compassion requires practice but it is something we all have the ability to learn.
If we want to live a full life not controlled by the grips of fear we have to make different choices and changes when dealing with our emotions.
So next time you want to run, stop and think about a different reaction – you have a choice.
Life is now, so take the many opportunities that arise and practice being vulnerable, practice compassion and move towards a life filled with more love, joy and peace than you could possibly imagine.
Believe in yourself and take that leap – it’s all just a choice away.
Connect with Expert Sophie Suri
Brene Brown (2012): Daring Greatly – How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead
Paul Gilbert and Choden (2015): Mindful Compassion – Using the Power of Mindfulness and Compassion to Transform Our Lives
Thich Nhat Hanh (2012): Fear – Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm