What is vulnerability to you?
A vulnerability is choosing to be open-minded and open-hearted in the face of any person or situation. A vulnerability is not weakness; it is flexibility and resiliency. Vulnerability requires self-awareness
What vulnerability feels like to you?
Vulnerability used to feel like my stomach turning to water, my knees knocking, and my voice quavering. Now, vulnerability feels like strength because I am willing to be transparent and imperfect. This means you can see me through and through. How you interpret what you see is up to you.
Why are you practicing vulnerability?
A vulnerability is the practice of no-defense necessary. I lay down my arms. I stand before you naked. Practicing vulnerability proves that although the world looms dangerously and the body is a fragile speck in this enormous universe, I am not my body. I am Spirit. Because all bodies will decay and die, but I have learned that in my essence I am Spirit. And Spirit is Life. Vulnerability builds my faith and gives me courage.
What’s your response to a violation of you being vulnerable?
This story will show how I respond to a violation of my vulnerability:
I was a student at a Gestalt Institute, training to become a psychotherapist. In practicums, two students would work, one as the therapist, the other as client. A teacher/supervisor would oversee the practice session, and the rest of the students would see.
That morning I had a terrible fight with my husband and my heart had pounded and racing ever since. It was now 12 hours later and my stress had barely abated. I was badly in need of help and volunteered to be the client. I was chosen, and began the session by explaining the state I was in. I felt very vulnerable, physically strained, and close to tears. We were doing this work in a small room and just across from me was a fellow student who looked bored and kept closing his eyes. In such an intimate situation, it seemed quite unfeeling and disrespectful of him. These practices were based on trust and emotional safety and his nodding off was triggering me.
I decided to say something about it, as my feeling of safety was compromised. I addressed him respectfully, owning my feelings, and sharing that I needed to feel that the people in this room were interested and caring. He responded with hostility, raised his voice, complained that this was what he had to put up with at work, and called me names.
The student therapist who was working with me tried to come to my defense a bit but was quite rattled. Much worse was that the teacher/supervisor did not intervene. I was horrified as I realized that the authority figure in the room was not going to take charge and that I was on my own. What happened next changed my life forever.
Rather than feeling humiliated or crushed by the cruelty of the other student, I was able to voice my truth and even shed some tears, while honestly expressing how I felt shocked at his reaction and horrified that he was training to be a psychotherapist given his appalling lack of empathy. I felt empowered that even under duress, I had the ability to say what was true for me.
Was vulnerability encouraged growing up?
A vulnerability was viewed as dangerous because you risked being psychologically attacked if you were too open or trusting.
Who is supportive of vulnerability in your family?
My father supported physical affection and that’s a form of vulnerability. Other than that he was emotionally stoic. My mother supported cultivating insight and perceptiveness, though she was very reserved about sharing emotions.
Any mentors along the way?
Michael O’Brien, Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda, Mooji
What book(s) that helped with this?
- If You Want to Write
- The Courage to Create
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- A Course in Miracles
- Bradshaw On: The Family
Any advice to a person struggling to be vulnerable?
Make friends with your emotions and your physical reactions to feeling in danger.