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A Vulnerable Situation

To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.

~Criss Jami

My recent article examined why so many people, who begin to perceive themselves in positions of power, often go through a harrowing transition and become almost tyrannical in their behaviors. Their attitudes changed so dramatically it’s almost difficult to believe you knew who they were in the first place.

Those who’ve fallen victim to their own false sense of authority often made this change without even realizing it. Their once-close friends could have even tried pointing out how shocked they were by their thoughtless actions and still that wasn’t enough to awaken them from their self-inflicted nightmare. Thankfully, anyone who may have fallen into this trap is not destined to continue down its hostile path.

One of the remedies for this situation is a willingness to become vulnerable.

Vulnerability has become a huge topic of late, but what precisely does that mean? More importantly, what does vulnerability mean to you?

The State of Vulnerability

Typically, a reliable place to find a description is the dictionary. The online Cambridge Dictionary gave this definition: “able to be easily physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked,” which was nearly word for word with Google’s and Bing’s description, as well as other online sources. However, I believe this characterization neglects important distinctions; revealing a positive, constructive, and reflective aspect to the important attributes of Vulnerability.

The origin of this word was derived from the Latin Vulnerare meaning “to wound.” Granted, that explanation would complement the dictionary’s version; however, it’s time to amend its definition to encompass a broader and more significant meaning.

Emotionally speaking, becoming vulnerable is a cognitive act; one which we choose rather than passively allow to happen to us. It is a surrender of the ego or at least getting out of the way of our own stubbornness, obstinance, or selfishness. It’s a willful act mainly intended for our personal growth and development. Rather than putting ourselves in a position of attack, being vulnerable is proclaiming there are flaws or perhaps something we don’t see, understand, or comprehend about ourselves. It’s an invitation and deliberate action – not a mistake or oversight.

Choosing to become vulnerable is an act of kindness to ourselves, as well as an invitation to be more mindful and considerate toward others.

There is no award for this decision; the reward is felt in your soul. It doesn’t require tears, but it doesn’t hide them either. Despite what we may think, others will respect or admire us when we are open to admitting to mistakes or other faults.

For countless generations, many of the social “norms” passed along were contrary to being vulnerable. Men were taught that showing feelings was a sign of weakness. Tears were for the feeble, “sissies,” or the pathetic. Hugging your children was giving them the wrong sign and most definitely, crying was reserved for women and children. When these kinds of teachings are closely scrutinized, their fallacies are easily exposed. How many times have we heard stories of adults who tearfully wished their parents had shown them even the littlest bit of affection?

Show Your Strength

The second half of the opening quote states: “to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” For those who ask how being vulnerable shows strength, anyone willing to admit to a mistake or some type of fault shows great courage and strength.

Those who continually must pat themselves on the back for doing a good job are essentially demonstrating and exposing a true weakness. A person of character seeks to improve and become a better leader. Having a yearning to always be validated is not assuredness but rather reveals a lack of self-confidence. This mindset rarely involves self-examination and is more concerned with finding fault or blame in others.

Author and psychotherapist Harper West coined the term “Other-blamer.” This caption nearly requires no additional explanation and is generally tied to narcissistic personalities because it’s nearly impossible for them to believe they’ve made a mistake. The other-blamer would be the first one to tell you vulnerability is ridiculous, futile or a huge waste of time. Their idea of strength is to hide mistakes, shift blame, and take credit even when they weren’t the ones to deserve it.

Embracing Vulnerability

Once a decision to be vulnerable is made, it helps to embrace it. Be proud it has become part of who you are. If someone ridicules you, it’s because they can’t grasp the idea of your growth and you can answer them by accepting it as a badge of honor. It may be difficult at first but any change in behavior takes effort. Find an ally who welcomes your decision and possibly is willing to embrace it along with you.

Becoming vulnerable never entitles us to expect sympathy or help from others. It does, though, generate a whole new level of gratitude, appreciation, and awareness.

Recently, I met someone on the other side of the globe who specifically began engaging with me after reading my articles. He happened also to review my newly-published website and out of the kindness of his heart, willingly offered professional advice, spending several hours helping me. Never would I ever have expected this, but it is also something for which I will always be grateful and thankful.

The Fruits of Vulnerability

One of the positive results of choosing to be vulnerable is the impact it has on others. People will notice the change in your attitude sometimes even complimenting you on your new outlook and attitude. Think of others in whom you’ve seen these types of traits and you’ll no doubt feel blessed to know them.

Vulnerability also promotes unity and cooperation. It has no capacity to create division nor drag others down. Interestingly, vulnerability yields the same beneficial qualities one would expect from a great leader. There are so many positive attributes to vulnerability it’s nearly impossible to understand why anyone would not choose to be in A Vulnerable Situation.

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John Dunia
John Duniahttp://shamedoctor.com/
John has a passion; and that is helping others heal from past difficulties and abuses. Healing became important when he realized how much it freed him from his own past and now works to help others experience that liberation. The key to his success was discovering that the most debilitating damage was his own shame and the destructive things he believed about who he was. Throughout his own healing journey, he became hyper-aware of how shame was affecting him while having little clue of its presence. Others noticed these changes and reached out to him for help. His methods were so effective that he made it a mission to shift his career into helping others. Adopting the term “ShameDoctor”, he continues to teach others to empower themselves through his remarkably effective techniques. “Shame is one of the biggest yet least talked about issues we face as individuals and society yet so very little is mentioned about it.” It is his purpose to change the way the world perceives shame and promote helpful and viable techniques to heal and overcome those past struggles. John’s book, “Shame On Me – Healing a Life of Shame-Based thinking” was self-published in 2016. In addition to working with clients, John also writes healing and insightful articles each week. He is also looking forward to speaking on the topics of shame and healing throughout the globe.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Beyond what one can think of, vulnerability is a value. It is another side of the reality of us human beings and, as such, it deserves to be accepted. Through it, we not only welcome the other part of our emotional universe, but also facilitate a more intimate, as well as authentic, connection with everything around us.
    One need to have great strength to allow oneself to be vulnerable. In a world where safety, efficiency and strength are so appreciated, those who dare to drop their armor of apparent perfection clearly demonstrate considerable courage. And this way of acting does not show defeat or an act of weakness at all.
    Vulnerability is a value; it is not a lack of strength or courage. It is another side of the human character. In essence, another part of our nature, which allows us to be more sensitive to our needs and, at the same time, to empathize with the pain and emotional realities of others. After all, those who endure more or who wear the mask of happiness for longer are not strong. Strong is the one who shows what he feels, admitting his mistakes and his injuries.

    • So true, Aldo. Can you explain this to the entire world, please?
      Imagine how different life on this planet would be if vulnerability were the measure of strength, success, or even ironically, power?
      There would almost be no need for a Heaven because it would be so on earth.

  2. Thank you for this meaningful discussion of vulnerability, John. As someone who lives this every single day, I can attest to the benefits and liberation being vulnerable brings. I believe the days of suppressing emotion, of shaming people for being human and fallible are coming to an end. Well, I hope so. The more we embrace our imperfections, mistakes, and miscues, the more we can learn to be whole, course correct, gain wisdom and profound compassion for other human beings who all make mistakes. Embracing our whole selves includes that part of us that watches us grow, change, evolve, develop, and adapt. Did a toddler make a mistake when falling down while learning to walk? Owning our mistakes helps us develop and grow. Being vulnerable opens the door to curiosity and wonder, to unlimited possibilities, fresh perspectives, and new beginnings. As Brene Brown states it: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

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