Vulnerability

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A friend and I have been having an open conversation on Facebook this morning about vulnerability and its role with the artist. Vulnerability is an important asset when communicating, creating, or acting out a part or role. It allows you to reach an emotional depth that you cannot reach by being too safe or avoiding thinking about uncomfortable things. Vulnerability helps us delve into those areas of self that we might not want to explore, but that help us understand ourselves better. Sometimes exposing those vulnerabilities, and embracing them even is the best form of therapy. 

Somewhere along the lines in our society we have been told that vulnerability is wrong, weak and not something we should project to others. Perhaps it was your parents or your grandparents who told you to never show your weaknesses. Maybe you received that message from society or indirectly from the people in your life. However you received it, you are not alone. I would say the majority of people on this planet do not want to show their vulnerabilities. Often when you look at the most popular bloggers, business leaders, and public figures they like to present themselves as being in control, having it all together and being very confident (sometimes overly so).

But why can’t we admit when things are going wrong in our lives? What is so wrong with that? It is through the honesty of vulnerability that you find the most support and compassion in others. And it is through the honesty and vulnerability of others that you are able to connect and offer your compassion to them. We don’t connect to positivity robots and artificial confidence. We connect with what’s real, that is why we come together so strongly and profoundly through times of hardship and change. Pain has the ability to heal us, and allows us to embrace our vulnerabilities, together as human beings. 

So instead of thinking of something awesome to post as your next Facebook status about how wonderful your life, job, clients, kids etc are… Why not post something honest and vulnerable. Just watch what happens. It will resonate more with your friends than “I am so lucky to have the best life ever”. It is great to express gratitude for your life and be happy (that’s the sweet spot), but dont forget that the vulnerabilities are necessary too. You wouldn’t truly be able to appreciate happiness in your life without knowing the contrast of pain.

Here are some of my honest vulnerabilities:

I have struggled with my weight for the last several years and can never seem to lose more than ten pounds or so. The way I see myself in the mirror is not what others see.

I have horrible self-esteem and often feel like a failure. It prevents me from putting myself out there a lot.

Social situations often make me very uncomfortable and I need to have a drink or two just to be able to talk to people without panicking. 

If I am too happy in my life, I cannot be creative or write. I become blocked. So I need a certain amount of vulnerability and hardship for my creativity to thrive. 

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8 thoughts on “Vulnerability

  1. As Virginia wrote “the eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”

    When we reveal our true authentic self (the root of who we are, our fears, our joys, our hopes), the possibility to be misunderstood, labeled, judged, rejected all increase. Our aversion to this possibility often supersedes the joys of any liberation. Donning our protective cloak is often easier and less painful.

    We all have vulnerabilities … pain … regret … sorrow. Some of us more than others. Personally, I applaud those with the strength to be open; yet will continue to struggle with those who are not.

  2. Excellent comment. Thank you. I couldn’t agree more. It takes way more courage to be vulnerable and open than it does to pretend everything is wonderful. I find beauty in honesty and imperfection. Some of the people I admire and love the most, are the most damaged human beings. But they are honest and they are beautiful to me.

  3. All writers are, to one extent or another, damaged people. Writing is our way of repairing ourselves. Some of my honest vulnerabilities: I haven’t been able to look at myself in the mirror for quite a while…my bald head…my height…my laziness…my self-consciousness…my net worth…still single… wow, and that’s the short list. Amen sister.

  4. But our vulnerabilities and willingness to admit them make us beautiful. Writing definitely helps with love and acceptance. It’s therapy for the soul. 🙂

  5. I can so relate with all this. The weight stuff, the failure stuff. I wish you lived in Seattle. you and I would be friends. I don’t have much of a support system here. And I’ve noticed two of my closest friends from grad school or college that live in other places don’t either. But you seem to have a good support system. I can see it makes a big difference. It’s also really hard to meet new people or put yourself out there if you’re too vulnerable, or feel like you have become too much of a train wreck with nothing to offer. You think, but the people who have known me forever look at me like I’m crumpled up.. And they saw so much. So how would somebody new look at me? How can I let them see at all anymore?

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