Suffice to say that we’ve come a long way since the days of scavenging and foraging for food and finding shelter to name a few of the basic and essential human needs that allowed man to concentrate on other activities. Yes, we’ve come a long way. Yet, I find it strange and rather peculiar the way our thought process has evolved concerning our fears and vulnerabilities.
If you’re reading this, then you are exactly the target audience I’m seeking.
It is not likely that this post will be passed along by word of mouth as much as it is by links, tweets, email and other forms of social media. A few of y’all will certainly engage in friendly conversation and invoke those good ol’ days in which we had our dreams, passions, ideas and most certainly fears and I hope that you remember this post with fondness.
As the definition of Vulnerable certifies, it is our susceptibility to physical or emotional attack or harm. Take Fear, the Unknown and Change as constants. They will always be present and manifest themselves regardless. It is dependent solely upon us as individuals to give each of them their own power to behold. Fear Fear, it will be your master. Fear the Unknown, it will dominate you. Fear of Change, to what avail?
If these constants are to reign then we certainly do not have a chance to Evolve, we are a sorry lot indeed. Yes, those particulars will remain the same, but do you? What of the advances of and in society, across all the boards, have we seen and come to witness firsthand? I’m asking you now (I’ve picked my audience carefully – you have internet and a means by which you can read this) – What is standing in your way? What whim, cry and plea are you not hearing? Be that of your own voice or that of your neighbor. What peril or danger sits in your way and paralyses your ability to act?
True and real danger exists only in our minds. The likelihood that we will be influenced or harmed by a particular thing is extremely low. More than ever, this thing, that causes our vulnerability to be exposed and makes us cringe is merely an emotional reaction to past experiences. We fear shame, mockery, humiliation, solitude, etc…in essence anything that makes us feel less than we are, belittled, or incompetent. But listen now, Vulnerability is NOT a constant. We can choose when and where to show it, but it takes practice.
Vulnerability we can affirm is a weakness, a crack in our armor, a pressure point. It manifests itself mostly in the psyche in areas that we are not well adjusted or lack adaptation. Not to be confused with Compassion, the feelings of concern or sympathetic pity, empathy, for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
To strengthen, mend and patch the chinks in our mental carapace is to take steps to discover, learn and venture out into the unknown and make ourselves familiar with that or those of which we are not accustomed. Step out of your comfort zone if only for a while. Experience the freedom and the extension of boundaries and notice where old borders were once laid. The Curse of Knowledge is your friend, you cannot ‘un-know’ what you now know. On another twist and turn, this ‘think outside the box’ meme or idea is nonsense. It should read, ‘be along the borders of the box’, in other words be on the frontier and the cutting edge. From this vantage point we can easily peer back in the box and peek. Within a moment and on a whim lift our head and gaze upon the horizon. It is a lot more productive to build a bigger box than to be thinking outside of it. One of the following adages is true, “We are what we’ve experienced” or “We are what we choose to become”. I’m not sure which one is more valid, but a choice has to be made. Notice the partial and mutual exclusivity of the phrases. One relates to the past, the other refers to the future. Make either of them work and you’re on your way to patching your Vulnerability.
Have you ever stood at the edge of a river, the waters of which you knew were cold? You wanted to join friends at play, but didn’t. You couldn’t muster up the courage to immerse yourself into the freezing waters. You and I both know that the temperature of the water will remain the same, it is constant. And, you and I both know that once in the water, our bodies will adapt. For those that need a bit more encouragement, and are a bit shy still, hear this: Don’t dip a toe, the pain and cold will concentrate there and only there. Jump in! Spread it around. Various parts of our anatomy are better adapted than others. They’ll aid in sharing the frigid sensation, thus minimizing the overall effect. Practice once, practice twice and before you know it, you’ll be the one leading others to cold water to play and enjoy. This is but one example on how we can train ourselves to be less Vulnerable in tasks and deeds that were previously daunting due to our weaknesses. I consider it necessary to perform such exercises in confronting Fear and to expose my Vulnerabilities so that I can know where to stand and how to position myself when attempting new feats. I must make myself stronger, not just for self indulgence, but for those in need so I may serve them as a bastion of encouragement.
Lean into your Vulnerabilities, lean into Fear, acknowledge your Weakness. Get closer to it and move in its direction. We don’t necessarily need a path, we need a direction. I’m sure by now you know where it leads, at least you know where to start.
Practice, practice, practice. Practice facing Fear. Expose your Vulnerability, practice everyday.