The Healing Power of Vulnerability

“What happens when people open their hearts?”…
“They get better.” 
— Haruki Murakami

We live in a culture where it isn’t acceptable to cry in public, ask for emotional support, or talk about your depression. In the mainstream U.S. culture, any admission of having negative emotions (anger, depression, sadness) is seen as a weakness. The problem with that is it leaves all of us feeling like we have to stay in the closet when we are struggling during a difficult time in our lives, which only amplifies the personal pain we feel. This emotional silencing becomes internalized as well, and suddenly we are punishing ourselves for feeling depressed or sad. Thoughts like, “there must be something wrong with me,” or “why can’t I just get over it?” or “I am so pathetic and weak,” are counterproductive to our healing. The good news is that there is a real-life solution to this detrimental cycle of suppressing, reprimanding or hiding our emotions. The solution is to  practice being vulnerable.

Now, to many of us, the thought of being “exposed” is enough to make us go running the other direction, doing anything we can to avoid the experience of being seen in an imperfect state. And this is why it takes practice; it’s like flexing a new muscle we’ve never used before. But the benefits of being vulnerable far outweigh the cons (refer to list). Vulnerability is about being alive, being human, accepting yourself, and opening your heart. The power of revealing your weaknesses is transformative. It opens the door to healing.

(A side note on perfection: it doesn’t exist, no matter how much we want to convince ourselves otherwise! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can stop worrying about being flawed, because we all are. It’s true. Now onward with being honest and vulnerable and real. This is the good stuff!)

The Benefits of Being Vulnerable

1. You liberate others to be vulnerable, and in doing so, you might learn that people you know have been through a similar experience in the past, or are currently experiencing a similar challenge

2. You allow yourself to receive help and support

3. You practice being honest

4. You grow stronger

5. You develop trust with others

6. You liberate painful emotions

7. You learn that emotional pain is a shared human experience

8. You inspire others

9. You learn something new about yourself

10. You gain a new perspective

11. You discover you are not alone

12. You feel alive

13. You accept yourself for where you are at

14. You allow wounds to come to the surface so you can work through them and let them go

15. You heal

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Homework

Practice being vulnerable in one moment this week. Be honest. Let your emotions be seen. Let the light come through the door you have opened and trust that it will only make you stronger, wiser, and more lovable.

 

“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. the new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.” 

Stephen Russell, Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao: A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior

 

 

 

 

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