“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” ~ Brené Brown
Vulnerability: the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Vulnerability is something that has become popular to talk about. We throw the word around the way we do consciousness, meditation, tantra—catch phrases loaded with meaning. Vulnerability is one of my favorite subjects, and I explore it often when writing about relationships.
But are we really familiar with what it means to be vulnerable? Are we practicing it, or even examining the places in our lives where vulnerability can find root and blossom?
Sometimes we dance around a philosophy or a subject and understand it on an intellectual level, but not actually live it. The problem with knowing it is that, sometimes, we are fooled into thinking we are embodying it. It can feel real, without being real.
I’ve been examining myself on this subject and resonate with Brene Brown’s story of an emotional breakdown—something many women and men can relate to after spending years protecting themselves from vulnerability. Brown’s belief is that we do this using three mechanisms: Perfectionism, numbing (anything to quiet our true feelings, as in addictions), and foreboding joy (the dread that kills happiness)
Sometime in our journey into adulthood, we are infected with an idea that we must create a certain life, follow certain rules, be a certain person, and ignoring the pleas of our soul to experience life authentically and through vulnerability, we soldier on pleasing others and living up to society’s expectations.
The mid-life crisis is the point where we can no longer wear the masks we have put on in order to create peace in other people’s lives, ignoring our own needs.
It bears saying that we have been trained from infancy to hide our natural expression. Have you noticed that as soon as a baby makes a sound, parents feel obligated to shush them? You must not be heard, you must be quiet or the others will become upset with your presence here.
And so it goes, until we explode from holding it all in.
At first glance, vulnerability seems like a dangerous state, but really, the lack of it is what leaves us far more exposed.
“I’ve learned that men and women who are living wholehearted lives really allow themselves to soften into joy and happiness. They allow themselves to experience it.” ~ Brené Brown
Brene Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability is a touch point with reality for the millions who have watched it since 2010. See for yourself. I think you will find her insights liberating.