Redefining Vulnerability

Vulnerability. It’s a word that is often met with fear, uncertainty, and distance. Once someone mentions the word, or someone feels it, they start to distance themselves. Why? Because when someone feels vulnerable, they feel weak, unsure, hesitant, fearful, and doubtful. In short–they feel like a glass house with gigantic cannons blasting cannonballs at them, exploding everything within them. Exploding the ground the stand on and the protective shield they create in their lives. So, why am I writing about vulnerability? Well, I’m here to tell you that vulnerability is a key to solving your problems.

Dr. Brene Brown, professor and researcher at University of Houston, is a vulnerability researcher. I am not here to rewrite what she has already written. In fact, I highly recommend that you read her books! She goes into detail about her research around vulnerability and provides necessary insight. However, I am here to discuss vulnerability in a different way. A way that I never understood from reading her books.

We may know that vulnerability is usually fear with protective factors such as perfectionism, control, and blame. When we feel vulnerable, we feel scared, so we move away from vulnerability and towards what we feel comfort with– our protective factors. Perfectionism is usually seen not as thinking you are better than everyone else, but thinking that if you and everything you do are perfect, you will not be vulnerable to criticism, neglect, and other scary risk factors. Control is a factor in perfectionism, but not exactly the same. We typically believe that if we are in control, the outcome will be great. So, some of us face vulnerability with trying to control the factors threatening them. Blame can come into place with both perfectionism and control, but is usually experienced in a different way. Blame is not in any way, shape, or form, an honest look at the fault in circumstances. It is the uncomfortable discharge of emotions (typically onto others) which results in feeling more in control and less responsibility for a situation or issue. When we feel vulnerable, it is easier to blame someone else for our uncomfortable feelings than it is to face our vulnerability. Other protective factors can include drug or alcohol use and codependency.

So, now that we have talked about these topics, time to get down to the core of the matter. As you can probably sense from reading thus far, retreating from vulnerability creates more problems than it does solutions. When we retreat to our protective factors, we may feel temporarily better, but we end up becoming a slave to these vulnerability factors. For example, when someone fears becoming vulnerable with relationships, they keep the person at a distance. This feels better, temporarily, but the person ends up being a slave to keeping that person in the distance. It becomes a job, rather than a real relationship. My suggestion? Let your glass house crumble.

If the factors you stand on are that fragile to begin with, chances are that allowing them to be shattered is the best thing you can do for yourself. Once you allow your perfectionism, illusion of control, blame, and fear to be shattered, you get to the root of the issue. You are able to problem solve. To truly feel like your house is made of stone. To grow. To become the person you want to be. To reach your goals.

Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth–Pema Chodron

Lean in to your fear. Lean in to the uncomfortable feelings. Lean in to the vulnerability. Once you lean in, you will be set free. And you will find what you are truly looking for.

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