The Paradox of Vulnerability
When someone says, “I feel vulnerable” we typically assume that this is a negative state. We tend to associate vulnerability with weakness. A vulnerable person may come under attack – physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually.
The paradox of vulnerability, though, is that unless we truly open ourselves to things that evoke fear – acknowledging areas of difficulty or ignorance – we may never be able to embrace fully our areas of strength and expertise. Power comes not from just seeing where we are gifted, but from also recognizing where we need to seek partnership, help, or advice from others. True authority comes from accepting ourselves as “learners” rather than trying to be all knowing or perfect.
When we can accept ourselves as vulnerable this can foster inner peace and greater self-confidence. We see that we don’t need to do it all on our own or have all the answers. Once we are freed from the shackles of perfectionism, we can focus our efforts on those areas where we can really make a difference. This is great for us, and the world, because we have more energy to invest in those areas where we can truly shine and develop. And perhaps just as critical, we feel empowered to take risks and build new talents because we are no longer burdened by the false belief that we have to do it “right” or not at all.
Here are a few thoughts on how you might begin to explore your vulnerability.
Take a class in something that takes you just a bit out of your comfort zone: square dancing, archery, foreign language, poetry, etc.
Volunteer for a group that will take you to a new neighborhood, environment or landscape
Ask someone with whom you share a significant age gap (older or younger) for their philosophy on trying new things
Share a problem with a friend who usually comes to you for advice
Answer the question “How are you?” with something more accurate and genuine than “Fine”
Self-Discovery Tool Number 59
How can we make a regular practice of exploring our vulnerability? How can having a deeper awareness of what we lack help us to take greater pride in our gifts and perhaps use them more wisely? Fear and vulnerability won’t go away, but seeing them as pathways to growth can help turn them from foes to friends!