It’s an interesting one, isn’t it - vulnerability. What does it actually mean?
I often think about whether words which hold such power can really be defined with other words, or how different our definitions of them may actually be?!
It can sound quite scary - being asked to be vulnerable. On the one hand, it goes against our self-protective instinct. If you were in a cave hiding from a predator, being vulnerable certainly wouldn’t be at the top of the menu. But, we’re not generally hiding in caves anymore, and the predators of the modern world are more likely to be our own self-destructive thoughts than they are a blood hungry, sabre-toothed tiger.
For this battle, I think, being vulnerable actually protects us. What might that look like though, practically speaking?
There’s no one way to be vulnerable. Different problems require different things from us, but, to me - each one presents itself with an opportunity to be vulnerable. When faced with choices, there are many ways one can respond. In my world, choosing the ‘harder route’ means choosing the one that makes me more vulnerable. The one that makes me most nervous (which feels kind of like excitement) - not because it’s bad, but because it’s scary or I don’t know how someone is going to react to it.
Imagine you’re having a conversation with someone you’ve just met and you’re feeling a little anxious - not for any particular reason, you just feel like that sometimes. The ‘easy’ choice is to pretend that you’re ‘fine’ (although, ironically, this is actually quite difficult), whilst the ‘hard’ choice might be to shed a light on what you’re really experiencing - ‘I feel a bit nervous!’, ‘my palms are a bit sweaty’, ‘I often get anxious when I meet new people’. Whilst you may think this sounds a bit ‘soft’, what you’re actually doing here is bravely dropping your guard, and inviting the other person to do so too. You are telling them, ‘you’re safe to be yourself here, and I intend to do the same’. Often, by putting some words to what we feel, it also loses its power or intensity. Imagine the person responds with ‘me too!’, suddenly you’ve learnt something quite intimate about each other and found some common ground in your shared experience. Who knows what could happen next?!
Having spent much of our lives being told to ‘man up’, geezers often associate vulnerability with weakness. Again, kind of ironically, vulnerability requires strength - something we have in abundance.
I leave you this post as an expression of my own vulnerability. I have no idea whether you will connect with what I’m writing, and I experience a kind of anxiousness in my chest as I prepare to post what are effectively my inner ramblings and could be perceived as total bullshit.
Such is life, I guess.