What does it mean to be vulnerable? I suppose it means different things to everyone, including myself; to me it always was something to stay clear of. No matter how I felt or how bad the situation was, I needed to stay strong, to never feel fear, hurt, anger, and sometimes love, because that would mean that I would be exposed – unsafe. That was unacceptable, and so I never let vulnerability into my life. To me it was something that should never exist.
But what does it really mean? To be vulnerable? Probably most people feel like I do, that it’s something to avoid, something that’s a safety tactic that we use for survival. However, if we always live in a cave and hide ourselves from everything just to stay ‘safe,’ how are we supposed to live?
For an example, if I refuse to be vulnerable, how am I supposed to ever become friends with you? Because let’s face it, I know that you’re not perfect, and therefore one day you’re going to hurt me, which means I’ll close down and go into ‘survival’ mode, which leads our friendship to doom. Why? Simple, I can’t trust you because I refuse to open up to you. Therefore our friendship isn’t truly a friendship and it ends. Usually abruptly, when you decide to do something stupid. :P
But there’s more. What does it mean to be? Or in other words that match my title. What does being really mean? I always think in pictures and scenes, so I see myself walking around, doing dishes, and doing things, but is that actually being? Or is that just…well…doing?
Being: The state of existence. One’s basic or essential nature; personality.
Wow. Ok. So, what on earth does that have to do with being vulnerable? In my limited experience (something I’m currently in the process of extending – one of the purposes of this blog!), in order to truly know myself, my nature and personality, I’ve had to pull down my walls and open myself up. Common sense seems to admit that if everything’s blocked, how am I really going to know how I feel about you? Or an activity? How am I supposed to be adventurous when I have to play it safe all of the time? How do I live?
Living is a state of existence.
My theory is that if living is a state of existence, then being is taking that state and moving a step forward and making it your own state of existence. Again, how are we truly able to do that if we wall ourselves up, and disallow life to happen to us, because we’re afraid of _____? (Fill in the blank)
With this theory, I would like to challenge myself, and everyone else who desires to being, that the walls must come down. Transparency with the world and myself must take place, because if I cannot see (know, understand) myself, then how am I supposed to be who I am supposed to be?
This is a key challenge. A first step kind of challenge, but a basic, and perhaps essential challenge, it is.
Here are some of my concepts of what it may look like to be ‘vulnerable’ in order to truly unfold your own being.
Don’t be afraid of your emotions. They are there for a reason. Let yourself feel them completely and fully, then let your mind kick in and deal with the rest.
Let yourself be affected by the world around you. Perhaps that means letting a sunrise bring tears to your eyes, or allowing yourself to yell because a natural disaster killed hundreds of people. It is OK to be affected by your surroundings.
Do something different. Sean was just informing me of a man who, in order to continue growing as a person, decided to do something outside of his comfort zone every day for a certain number of days. It could be something as simple as going to a restaurant by yourself and having dinner, taking a yoga class, or possibly go rock climbing or get in a plane just because you’re scared to death of it. Whether you make a list or just decide to try to be more ‘out there’ it’s essential for us to ‘get out of our comfort zones’ and find out who we truly are. Different situations make us figure out who we truly are, because we can’t rely on our instincts of what we think our personality should do.
Watch or read stories that you normally wouldn’t watch/read. This can bring out a different side of your reactions then you’re comfortable with. For an example, I recently watched Pure, a movie about a young boy whose mother is a heroin addict. Very sad and therefore not at all the kind of movie that’s in my comfort zone, but it brought out an unfamiliar aspect of myself, probably because it made me ask some serious questions that I needed to answer for myself. Ergo why it’s a simple exercise to get you pondering how well you know your being.
Write. Write out everything you wish you could say and do. It might take you a few weeks, or a few hours, but let yourself really dig down and figure out what YOU feel. Your desires, fears, fantasies ect, and feel OK with letting yourself know this about you. Even if it seems like it’s not like you at all, but until you get it out of yourself and truly address it, you’re missing out on a particle of your being. (Sometimes speaking it out loud is good too, but it’s harder for me to really analyze it because I can forget what I said, writing seems to be more efficient, but that’s just me!).
Work hard. Some people are afraid of this. Honestly, I am one of them. Why? Because what if we work hard and fail? Or maybe we don’t know what it means to work hard? Sometimes I wonder if I know what it means, maybe I don’t, maybe I do, but I definitely believe in Pablo Picasso’s quote…
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
It’s scary to work hard, because there’s a vulnerability in it, all of the ‘what if’s’ come to play, and mess with our minds. “What if I’m not good enough?” “What if I work hard, then lose it all?” Whatever we say to ourselves that justifies our lack of real work ethic, it’s a sad way that we undermine our being, and therefore our main source of inspiration.