When asked what it means to be vulnerable, people often talk about it as a synonym for weakness. We have been conditioned to ‘fit in’, thereby, making a way for ourselves to be the person we are expected to be. Humans are taught to ‘toughen up’ and create a strong psychological armour since childhood.
Vulnerability, in general, is the state of being exposed to the possibilities of being attacked or harmed – physically or mentally. And, none of us want to be vulnerable! But, despite our best efforts, the boundaries that we have built around us to protect ourselves from feeling pain, discomfort and hurt are the chains that keep us tethered to it, disallowing us from feeling the opposites – joy, love, and passion.
Everyone has memories, with varying degrees of feeling hurt, embarrassed, judged etc., and, most of us would admit that we often mask our own vulnerabilities and run away from it. We invest all our energy into work so that there is no space left for unsettling experiences or insecurities. We actually learn through our mental self-defense to magnify the vulnerability, and, feel helpless or hopeless, until we find someone who knows us and accepts us. Exposing or unmasking vulnerabilities is learning how to open our authentic self with the rest of the world. But, to be real, we have to risk not meeting other people’s expectations, and, at the same time, willing to meet parts of ourselves that we have been trying to deny.
Experiencing vulnerability is rarely a pleasant journey, but, it is honest. It offers liberty to an individual to breathe in one’s own truth. Unfortunately, the word ‘vulnerability’ often gets misused, and, the society shuts down our access to our true selves because we are taught it is wrong to be vulnerable.
It is not about winning or losing but having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. It is not weakness but the greatest measure of courage. To feel is to be vulnerable. If we want greater clarity or to lead deeper and more meaningful, spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path we should tread on, instead of wearing a cloak of invincibility.