“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” - Criss Jami
It is hard to be vulnerable, to put our true selves out in the open, especially when it seems our society often rewards bravado and looks down on the vulnerable. Yet, being vulnerable is the only authentic mode of being. The more we hide from the shadows that make us vulnerable, the higher we grow the barriers that keep us from happiness.
We all have fallen.
There are always going to be people that don’t like us, don’t agree with us, and that is OK. We have an intricately woven past that has gotten us to today, yet we often share the sunny side and keep hidden our self-identified shadows. We think no one could understand our pain, our hurt, and yet, it is amazing what we find when we open up to another.
Our similarities to others may actually be greater than our differences. And that is how we connect in this world. When we share our story, when we are vulnerable, there is an opportunity for healing, even if it means getting hurt. To let our guard down, to share what scares us, now that makes us strong.
Every now and then we might need to apologize for things we say and do, but we never need to apologize for who we are.
Being vulnerable isn’t about letting people walk all over you, judge you, or sharing everything with everyone. It is about letting down the façade, daring to be genuine, being respectful in your words, compassionate to others - and being OK when others do not reciprocate. It’s not about what others think of you or don’t think of you, or even if they accept you.
Frankly, the primary benefit of vulnerability is for ourselves. When we can be vulnerable, acknowledging our flaws and our greatness, we learn to accept ourselves. With all the hoopla gone, it clears the path for the truth – the simple stuff that can allow us to grow. And all of this helps the world be a little better place.
Growing up, I learned that some people didn’t like when I showed my feelings (although, the fact that I was focusing on those people probably didn’t help). It seemed that everyone felt more comfortable if I held it inside. It is hard to reopen that vault when the hurt or the pain feels too great. However, when pain becomes too great, eventually something cracks.
We can’t function holding everything in.
So, I had to relearn how to live in this world, feelings and all. And that meant, I had to be vulnerable, or I would crack. For me, I have found that the people that are the most authentic, the most honest, and the people who let me see their shadows; those are the people that I want in my inner circle. If they can accept their shadow sides, their vulnerabilities, they are more likely to operate with a greater level of self-acceptance and understanding of this complex world.
There is not always agreement, and there shouldn’t be. I sometimes say things I shouldn't or make impulsive decisions, and sometimes have to call a ‘redo’, apologize (to others and myself) and start over. Sometimes I get complacent or even scared. It’s much easier to put a guard up and stay hidden. But then I remember that although being vulnerable can feel dangerous, it is not nearly as dangerous as never experiencing the joy of love, laughter, and simply not feeling alone in this great world.
And by the way, I cried at the dentist today. I messed up the appointment time by a half an hour. After getting help watching my kids and scheduling all the school pickups, I thought I had it all together. And I messed up. It seems this was the culmination of a life too scheduled and not enough time to just breathe. So, I cracked. Luckily, it wasn’t too big of one, and could easily be remedied with a few tissues…