Emotional Vulnerability and Connectedness
Is feeling vulnerable a good thing? Many of us see it as a sign of weakness, as we’re not being good enough!! We’re afraid of not being seen by others as the “perfect” mother/father, spouse, child, worker, etc.
Being vulnerable with myself meant connecting with the deeper and scarier things that were going on. It meant acknowledging my own helplessness in the face of vast forces. But it also meant being, suddenly, in a position where I could offer myself real compassion.
This same process works in the external world, though, too. More often than not, connecting with people through empathy and being open to receive actually works, and it frequently works in situations where you might think it impossible.
So what is emotional vulnerability?
Emotional vulnerability is most often felt as anxiety about being rejected, shamed, or judged as inadequate. It has been defined by Brene Brown as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (2012). Think about that for a moment. Uncertainty is a given in every day of our lives. It is deeply tied to being anxious and bound to our fears. In fact, very often those who suffer from chronic anxiety have particular difficulty accepting the uncertainty in their daily lives.
From what I’ve discovered personally and through my practice we need to allow ourselves to be seen, vulnerably exposed seen!! We need to be able to love and connect with our whole hearts, even though, there is no guarantee, and no control of the outcome, and that’s difficult to gnaw on. What we know is that when we open up to others, we are able to openly receive others as well. Thus in turn creates the possibility of human connection, and the ability to feel connected.
Recently a close friend of mine contacted me through Whatsap video chat. He is very private person and calls infrequently. In the mist of our video chat, he told me he has lung cancer, and has a few years to live. At this heartbreaking news I was taken aback! All I could say to him is…”I’m here for you”. I was surprised that my friend made himself vulnerable, and was able to open up and connect to me in this way. My friend had an extremely difficult childhood, and it seemed adversity in his life always followed suit. However, he was able to show vulnerability and possess the strength within him in believing “I’m enough”? And to show he is able to offer compassion to himself and to be received. This friend of mine did not hesitate for a split second and cast doubt on what he believes in; negating the belief of feeling shame, and being misunderstood by others. No! My friend is able to march on!! Express what he wants to express and be grateful, because to feel vulnerable, he feels Alive!
What’s important is that we start listening and connecting to ourselves. We need to allow the vulnerability, and start believing, “I am enough”! Once this happens we become kinder and gentler to our selves as we are to others.