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Embracing Your Vulnerability

April 8th, 2013

Blog Format

This week, I want to reflect on healthy and unhealthy ways to handle our vulnerability, and how to better embrace it.

vulnerable

Vulnerability is part of our human experience, but the way we handle it is unique to each individual. Having feelings of fear, shame, exposure, temptation, hurt etc. are all normal and they make us vulnerable, but it is very important to understand the way we handle them when they happen in our life.

Why is it important? Well, because there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do it, and this difference may really determine the quality of our everyday life. Before I go ahead, I want to note that vulnerability is not in ANY way a synonym of weakness, although in many cultures it is viewed as such, unfortunately.

The way we handle our vulnerability comes from our culture, family, upbringing, social codes, personality, etc. That is why it is unique to each one of us. The important thing is to become AWARE of what we do, that is the first step to making changes if needed.

When people experience hard feelings (those that make us vulnerable), they can have a number of unhealthy responses the most common are:

Numbing:

Very often people try to NUMB the feeling, in order to make it more tolerable, so they will turn to things like:

  • compulsive eating
  • alcohol consumption
  • overspending
  • overmedicating, and
  • all sorts of addictions in varying intensity

This is usually done unconsciously, we don't want to feel hard feelings, so we divert our attention and our minds using unhealthy habits. The problem is, we can't selectively numb our feelings, by numbing hard ones, we automatically numb good ones too, like: joy, happiness, excitement, gratitude, etc.
We numb everything, we then become unable to feel either good or bad feelings and as a result, we feel miserable and can't find purpose in life, so we numb that feeling too, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

Pretending:

Another way in which people handle hard feelings is by pretending they are not there, denying them, going along in life as if nothing happens. This is very unhealthy, because those feelings don't just go away, they are negative energy that remains in our bodies and the longer we ignore it, the more it builds up and produce energy blockages that directly affect our physical health, they can cause chronic conditions and diseases more or less serious.
Also, by ignoring our feelings we tend to be much less sensitive to other people's feelings, we become unable to relate to hard feelings, so we are not very capable of empathy and compassion, we miss the opportunity to connect to other human beings at a deeper level.

Blaming:

Another unhealthy way to handle hard feelings is by blaming other people, blaming our circumstances, blaming events, etc, anything and anybody can become the object of our blame. Blame is nothing but a way to discharge pain and discomfort!. Not only does this divert us from our feelings, it puts us in a victim role, we become victims of our surroundings and this role is extremely disempowering and limiting for our psyche. By blaming and letting out our anger on others, we are not taking full responsibility for our feelings.

So, if you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors, it is important to look at them more closely and make changes.

Now, lets look at the healthy ways to handle hard feelings.

Body Awareness:

Being in touch with our bodies is very important, because our bodies never lie, and often the physical sensations we have are a clue to our emotions. We do not always realize when we are having hard feelings, but our bodies always know, therefore, if we are in touch with our bodies we can more easily detect when something is bothering us and affecting us. It is also very important to respect our need for crying, we need to let tears flow freely in order to release negative feelings, unfortunately a lot of people block this release mechanism because of their upbringing (most common in men.)
Also, it is important to keep our bodies and our minds connected through mindful exercises and practices like: yoga, martial arts, Tai Chi, Qigong, free style dancing, etc. Any exercise, as long as it is done mindfully, can be of help.

Responsibility:

By taking responsibility for our emotions, we embrace them fully, we allow our bodies to express them without shame or reservation, we can feel them, without acting on them; for instance, if we are angry, we don't need to lash at other people, we can feel our anger, acknowledge it and find ways to calm down without hurting anybody. Furthermore, being responsible for one's own feelings means also that we realize deep down that we have power over them, they do not control us, and they don't depend on anybody or anything else but ourselves.

Comfort and Trust:

If we are comfortable with our vulnerability, we are better able to share it with other people, to trust others. We can let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen by others. This trust gives us the chance to open up in a much more truthful way and it invites people to show up in our lives, it invites them to get closer. By trusting others with our vulnerability we are able to build much stronger and closer connections to other people, and these type of connections are key to our survival and happiness.

Mindfulness:

Using mindfulness in our everyday life greatly helps us connect to our emotions, it does not suppress them, ignore them or diminish them, in fact it makes us much more capable of feeling them but at the same time handling them in a healthy way. Mindfulness is a tool that strengthens our capacity to deal with our hard feelings in a much healthier way. Through mindfulness we are able to feel deeply and yet remain calm and peaceful. Mindfulness increases our capacity to bear difficult experiences.

So, that's it, my final thought for you is that embracing our vulnerability is a way to love, to accept, and to heal ourselves.The capacity to fully accept our vulnerability go hand in hand with self-love and self worthiness. You don't become insecure if you are able to fully embrace your vulnerability, instead, you become stronger and more grounded.

I highly recommend you to watch the video that inspired this post: Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability and if you like the author, she has a great book that I recommend too: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Have a great week!

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