How can we not only cope with, but rise above the challenges presented to us today?
Most will tell you to be strong. I say, be vulnerable! But then again, I’m convinced that being vulnerable is to have the right type of strength.
If we cannot embrace our vulnerability during these trying times and are keeping up appearances of strength, we may run the risk of our inner pressure reaching boiling point. I say, let some pressure go!
What is Vulnerability?
To be vulnerable means to expose yourself emotionally, and actively. To dare to move forward with all your fears, not knowing what the outcome will be. Now that is courage!
Examples of actions that only one who dares to be vulnerable will take: going on a first date after a divorce, going back to the office for the first time after lockdown, or starting a difficult conversation that exposes your feelings. There are many more examples we all know.
Vulnerability is an Inside Job
The truth is that whether or not we are in lockdown, we always live within ourselves. So when looking at the importance of being vulnerable, the first question to ask yourself is if you dare to be vulnerable with yourself.
What this means is looking beyond self images such as “I am right” and “ I am strong” to allow other emotions to surface. Ask yourself what lies beyond your self image. Don’t be surprised if the emotions that come up are very uncomfortable. Such as shame, feeling weak, fear of being rejected and inexplicable sadness…
In order for those emotions not to paralyse me, as I allow myself to feel them, I can:
- Take time to practice in peace and quiet. Sitting in my own space I feel safe. Although I may feel that I am entering into treacherous waters (emotions), in reality, I know that no harm will be done.
- Decide to observe rather than be swept away. Remembering that the emotions are not who I am. I tell myself that emotions are visitors, and I welcome them but don’t dwell in them.
- Breathe deeply and feel bite size by bite size, I acknowledge that I am still alive and it is quite an exciting and interesting practice to be vulnerable.
- Remind myself that also these emotions are also my friends as they can allow me to get to know myself better..
Vulnerability requires honesty. If I can not be honest with myself, then how can I be honest with others? It is the opposite of pretending to be perfect, invinsible, perhaps the opposite of being at peace. It is to accept what is.
Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself:
- Why is it so difficult to be vulnerable?
- What does it mean to me to be vulnerable?
- When have I been the most vulnerable in my life?
Daring to be Vulnerable in the Workplace
As we go to work or return to work, we may feel that we are being pushed out of our safe cocoon.
And even if you have worked on being vulnerable with yourself, your family, your friends, what if you still freeze as you near your workplace? Surrounded by colleagues and bosses you may lose your confidence to be vulnerable. “They have so much power over me, can I be myself?”
Here is the crux of it: this issue will be less of an issue the more that you feel that you can be your own true authentic self. In our culture we tend to shield ourselves from hurt. We don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable. As a result, we will only hurt more in the long run.
- We are not being our authentic selves when the armour is on – when we are shielding ourselves, being guarded.
- Not even attempting to be our authentic selves, we stray more and more and are accumulating and postponing hurt – I think this is something of a universal law.
So why do we do it?
It is generally seen as a necessary evil, endured in return for making a living. Many workplaces have cultures that don’t encourage vulnerability though this is slowly changing. Rather, it is punished with sideline of promotion or other such measures. And so we retreat into our shell, our armour… we pretend…
How do we dare break free from that?
Think of it this way: Only by showing up as your truest possible self, do you actually honour yourself. If you have the courage to show small steps in being vulnerable in your workplace, like having a difficult conversation with a colleague in a compassionate way, perhaps you will set the stage for your colleagues to do the same.
Next, imagine the light that will click on inside when you walk through life this way. Will it not positively impact all that you do?
Why being Vulnerable is to be Well
Let’s look at it this way: Sometimes we don’t feel ok.
Isn’t it better to accept that right now I don’t feel fine, I don’t feel ok, I don’t feel well than to pretend to be? Yes!
Because if I pretend ( if I haven’t taken the first steps towards being vulnerable, I’ll even be lying to myself) there is no way that I can get well. Eventually I will crack.
If I admit to myself and, even better: to others, there is hope. In fact I am already much more well than if in denial. Something is opening up.
This will be a good position to be in as others will (perhaps subconsciously) be inspired to also allow themselves to be just as and who they are too. It can result in heartfelt connections, true friendships. And those are always good for one’s health.
Being vulnerable can propel you into entirely new avenues of life. Perhaps away from cultures that expect you to hide your true vulnerable self – what a wellness blessing!
Be Vulnerable, be Well!
With love, Claudia
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