Vulnerability is the key to liberation and transformation. Are you scared yet? It’s an uncomfortable truth. Few of us really enjoy being vulnerable, either with ourselves or with others. Because when you’re vulnerable you’re no longer in control of the situation. When you choose to be vulnerable, you are choosing to not control or manage how you appear to others or to yourself. You are instead choosing to be completely honest with yourself and others.
Being completely real with yourself or others is very challenging though. When you think about telling a loved one that you feel hurt or disappointed, you probably feel afraid of being attacked. You’re scared of being rejected by this person, and losing the relationship, and so you hide your truth. Allow me to give a short story of how being vulnerable with myself is challenging:
Recently I had been working with someone and I was finding that I was getting really upset in the relationship. For a while I got by on blaming the other person for this. I’d tell myself “they’re not committed to the work” and “they aren’t trying hard enough”. But then suddenly I realized that I had become attached to the belief “I have to help this person heal”.
This was a moment of vulnerability with myself. I got more real with myself; I was being more honest with myself. I was angry not because of what this person was or wasn’t doing, I was angry because I believed it was my duty, my obligation, to heal this person.
And of course what followed that moment of vulnerability was a tidal wave of shame. I suddenly heard in my head “You should know better Alex! You don’t try to fix or change people. That doesn’t work, and it only creates resentment. Isn’t that what you tell your clients? Why can’t you follow your own advice? You’re not fit to do this work, and you don’t even practice it. You’re terrible.” I felt horrible about myself.
This shame reaction is why most of us don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable with ourselves. If you’re open and honest with yourself, you may not like what we see and discover, and you might withdraw your love from yourself. And if I judge, criticize, and put myself down for being attached to trying to fix this person, then won’t all the people reading this blog also judge, criticize, and put me down? Better to go back to lying to you my reader and to myself: “yeah, it’s totally this other person’s fault that I’m upset.”
But when I allow myself to go back to lying, to controlling and managing how you and I perceive me, then I don’t allow the transformation to occur. So if I take a few deep breathes and once again admit “I feel like I have to help heal this person”, and this time sit with it, something happens. A little light goes off in my head. ”Oh, I don’t have to do that. Actually that isn’t my responsibility, and it certainly isn’t my obligation.”
And that’s the transformation. When I was honest with myself about my attachment to “fixing” this other person, the attachment went away. I saw that I had a choice, and that I could choose to not try to fix them. That instead I could choose to accept them as they are. And when I do that, I’m not angry with them anymore.
What are you hiding from others or from yourself? What could you be more honest about? Try being more vulnerable about that, and see what transformation occurs for you.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.