In my previous posts I talked about how important fellowship is for living a good life. Have you ever wondered how we make connections with others; why some connections are so strong and close, while others are loose, untrustworthy and unreliable. And how those close connections with others gives us richness, purpose and meaning to our lives. While those not so close connections leaves us feeling little uneasy.
It seems our vulnerability plays a crucial role in making these connections. When we normally think of vulnerability it is in a sense of being unprotected. What are we usually protecting ? It is some aspect of ourselves which we are fearful of revealing because it causes us to feel shame. When we are busy hiding our fear and shame it is hard to be our authentic self. But it is only when we are our authentic self that we are likely to make a close and lasting connection with someone; and maybe resulting in a life long friendship.If we are unable to be authentic it is unlikely our connection will be strong and long-lasting – because there will be a sense of distrust in this connection until what is hidden is revealed. The revealing is hard, being authentic is hard, so we reinforce our fear and shame by telling ourselves we are not worthy of these close connections or true friendship. We continue to hold on to our fear and shame. We continue to be without close friends.
In order to connect and have close friendships we need to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is to have enough courage to say I am not afraid to be as I am with all my imperfections. It is to say I am worthy of love and belonging as I am. It is to say I am beautiful when I am my authentic self . It is to say I embrace my vulnerability.
While vulnerability is a space where we struggle with shame, fear and issues of worthiness; it can also be the birthplace of joy , creativity, belonging and love. This happens when we fully embrace our vulnerability, we no longer need to give energy to our fears, we are our authentic selves, people around us sense we are not fearful or hiding anything, we are at ease. This frees us to be joyful, to be creative, to belong and to love. We are able to say” I love you” first. We are able to invest in a relationship that may not work out. We can do things without guarantee that they will work out.
It is important to recognize that we cannot selectively numb vulnerability. When we numb vulnerability we are also numbing gratitude and happiness. We numb vulnerability in variety of ways – by moving from uncertainty to certainty e.g. from religion being faith and mystery to wanting certainty ; by blaming, it allows one to discharge pain and discomfort ; by pretending what we do doesn’t have impact on others people; by trying to be perfect. When we get into these kinds of behaviour patterns we are not only suppressing or numbing the vulnerability but also numbing to be in gratitude and being happy.
Alternative way of being could be to allow ourselves be seen as we are, love with our whole heart without expectation or guarantees, practice gratitude and joy. Accept ourselves as being enough.