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Embracing Vulnerability - Getting Rid of The Stigma

Embracing Vulnerability - Getting Rid of The Stigma

March 08, 2020 / Patrick Zavorskas

On a dreadfully dreary and rainy day back in October 2019, I had sat myself down in a local cafe of my seaside town in New Jersey to conduct my first ever professional interview. I was meeting a woman named Eileen Sweeney, a reiki healer and certified practitioner who co-founded the company, Enerki, an online platform that provides a one-on-one connection to certified reiki practitioners for energy healing sessions and more. During the week prior to our interview, I had experience many personal traumas in my life, dealing with the hospitalization of two family members, which one I had lost shortly after. I was struggling to make sense of the situations, finding myself feeling rather displaced and even depressed. I went into the interview still rather foggy, unsure of what to expect from a woman who I have only met through emails and stories from colleagues. For me, there was a moment I was doubting my abilities and want to go through the interview, but upon actually meeting Eileen, my feelings had completely changed.

I am telling you about my interview experience because there was an almost miraculous shifting of my mood and philosophy for life after coming out of it. For you see, Eileen Sweeney had an incredible story to share with me - one that embraced vulnerability and preached a sermon about the utter importance of connecting with your emotional side. In short, she had gone throughout her life questioning her existence, what her place would be within this world, and if what she was doing truly mattered to her and the world she wanted to create for herself. She felt a differenceness within herself that had caused her to disconnected from those around her, and for that, there was a lot of shame she had felt because of it. In order to battle this conflicts and to move forward and heal, she had to embrace the chaos - embrace the darkness and weaknesses inside of her that had caused her this emotional pain. She had to connect with her vulnerability in order to create the strength necessary to move on and better her life, taking a moment of self-reflection. 

When I think about this for myself, I think about that time I had gone through after experiencing those traumas - what can I do for myself in order to heal. I took Eileen's words into action. I took a moment to reflect on myself and my feelings, understand exactly what was causing me this pain that I had felt, and learn, it one way or another, to embrace it. I took this idea with other aspects of my trauma as well - I take time to write about them, share my stories with others, and learned how to make it a part of me. There is a certain stigma that comes from exactly what it means to embrace vulnerability, and I want to aid in helping to get rid of it. These are my reasons to embrace vulnerability:

Understanding What Vulnerability Is

When first hearing the word vulnerability, most people have different definitions for what exactly it means - fear, denial, shame, weakness. They may question exactly how vulnerability goes hand and hand with strength? People understand that there is a deep-rooted sharing of feelings and emotions when it comes to vulnerable, and for some, that can be an excruciatingly scary thing to do. Take Brene Brown for example: Back in 2010, Brown gave a TedTALK on what it meant to be vulnerable, stating herself that at first she hated being vulnerable. She stated that when she asked people or even noticed when people talk about certain subjects regarding vulnerability, they always talk so negatively about them.

"When you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak. When you ask people about belonging, they tell you their most excruciating experience of being excluded. And when you ask people to talk about connection, the stories they told were about disconnection"

Brown argues so eloquently that this idea comes from notions of fear and shame. There is a fear of disconnection that ultimately creates this shame. And with many thinking that being vulnerable relates so heavily with shame, it is so fearful to allow your full self - your full emotional self - to be seen. Many believe, however, that vulnerability is a double-edge sword, in which by protecting your emotions and your feelings, you are lessening your chances of being hurt. However, in doing so, you often begin to fail to appreciate the close relationships you have created within your life and fail to appreciate intimacy. 

It is important to know that we, due to the simple fact of being human, are always going to be vulnerable. We are vulnerable to the day we are born, throughout our childhood, being fully acquainted with what it means to be vulnerable when we are teens. It is in our adulthood, however, that we can either learn to embrace it or learn to abandon it. The importance of embracing vulnerability and learning to become one with it will only in the end, help you strengthen your emotional well-being and help in creating more inner peace. There is no use in creating barricades and walls while then also trying to get others to see the true potential and person that you are. You must embrace your vulnerability if you wish to live your best life, even if it means letting your guard down and learning to love your emotional side. 

Embracing The Chaos and Imperfect

In talking more about Brene Brown's powerful TedTALK on vulnerability, Brown had stated, 

"There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging."

The main reason as to why people had reached this level of a strong sense of love and belonging was simply put - courage. They had the courage to embrace the chaos and imperfect within their lives. In understanding vulnerability and making it into your strongest strength, one must first learn that life is imperfect, we has humans being flawed. In every sense of the word, we make mistakes, there are forces out there that can throw us a curveball and turn our lives upside-down, and sometimes, because of it, we do not make the right choice. Instead of repressing whatever those traumas are and leaning towards "sweeping them under the carpet", there is an exceptional courage that comes with learning to dig into those emotions and feelings associated with those traumas. Repression and retaliation from things that only hurt you does not provide a healthy sense of healing, but rather you are creating more suffering within your life. 

Vulnerability begins with accepting those imperfections - accepting the flaws, accepting every mistake that has caused us shame, fear, pain, or chaos. It goes hand-in-hand with promoting self-care and self-love for yourself. It is essential to embrace every single piece that makes up who you are and learn to make peace with it. When you feel so vulnerable and have come one with your feeling and emotions, it can be a truly beautiful thing. Brene Brown herself even said, "I am just so grateful, because to be this vulnerable means I am alive." 

Self-Examination

Vulnerability takes a deep amount of self-reflection, meaning that, in order to fully embrace it and embrace what makes you who you are, you must learn to look within. Take time to be mindful, full becoming one with your thoughts. What are the thoughts and feelings that emerge? Are they ones that result in self-doubt in insecurity? Or are they loving and present themselves as affirmations? Being mindful of the way you talk to yourself, the thoughts you have about yourself, and even being conscious of how you treat yourself all play into vulnerability. Taking time to analyze the why can be huge in figuring out exactly what causes you this pain. Think about it has a therapy session solely for yourself. It can definitely be scary, but as we said, learning to be fearless and find the courage to reflect can ultimately be increasingly rewarding. It is important to not let these issues and triggers take over your emotional side. Rather learn to create that sense of worthiness over your doubts and insecurities. Shame is all in your head, and when you learn to listen to your emotions, embrace vulnerability, and create a sense of worthiness within your life, it can be your biggest asset. As Brown said, "once you start believing in yourself, we stop screaming and start listening. We are kinder and gentler to those around us, and we are kinder and gentler to ourselves." 

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-Patrick