The Strength of Vulnerability

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

Brené Brown 

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Somehow in our society it has become commonplace to think that someone who shows their emotions is weak and someone who is stoic and seemingly unbothered by life’s challenges is strong. However, that idea couldn’t be more wrong. The exact opposite is true. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in a given moment, it is then that we are actually displaying our true strength.

As men, we are often taught that being emotional and being in touch with our feelings is a sign of weakness. They say, “It is only proper for girls to be vulnerable. Men aren’t supposed to have negative emotions outside of anger. Men are definitely not supposed to express those negative emotions. And there is absolutely no excuse for a man to ever cry.” But as a human-being, we all have emotions. Positive and negative. Our emotions are meant to be felt and expressed. With this understanding, we can move from a place of letting our ego be in control, to really letting our soul shine through.

One of the most important things that we can do is to teach our children and our youth how to express their feelings. So many times we tell our kids to “Suck it up” or “Stop crying and don’t be sad“. Such statements are often made by loving parents who do not want to see their children hurt and in pain. The error is that we are teaching our children to deny their feelings. We are teaching them that they should not feel any type of sadness or hurt. Instead, what we should be teaching our youth is how to feel their emotions and let them pass as they naturally will.  What ends up happening is that instead of learning how to feel their emotions, children start to build up walls to protect themselves from feeling much at all. These walls often carry into their adult lives and create unnecessary struggles for them in the forms of  trust issues, defensiveness, and sabotaging a good thing in the fear of being hurt by it. By guiding our children through the right way to deal with their feelings, we can help them establish strong emotional grounding that will support them as they grow into adults.

I’ve found that one of my biggest challenges has been opening up my heart again and expressing those emotions that are deep inside. Sometimes it seems easier for me to pretend as though everything is okay, rather than to let someone know that I am actually upset or saddened by something. But as I am learning, I see that without feeling you are not truly alive. You have to be able to feel. 

It is okay to have feelings of sadness, of heartbreak, of despair, of hopelessness and of other negative emotions at times. What is not okay is ignoring your feelings as if they don’t exist. When emotions are kept bottled up, it is unhealthy on many levels. Bottled up emotions often are the root of extreme expressions such as rage and tantrums. And they are also the cause of many physical dis-eases such as ulcers, cancers, etc.

Many people use different things to numb their pain instead of feeling it. Some of these things may include working a lot, eating in excess,  drinking alcohol on a regular basis, excessive shopping, etc. All of these things are distractions that keep you from feeling those negative emotions that are deep within. The way to move past these extreme behaviors and addictions is to feel whatever pain you’re avoiding. Deal with those issues and allow all of those feelings to come up no matter how painful they may be. What you are not willing to deal with and face, you will not be able to heal. Don’t use your behaviors as an excuse to stay stuck in sadness, hurt, anger, etc.

It takes a vulnerably strong person to say that “I am sorry.” It takes a vulnerably strong person to say that “I was afraid.” It takes strength to show your heart. Much like with many things in life, the more you practice being vulnerable and living from your heartspace, the easier it will become to act from that place in more of life’s situations.

Being vulnerable doesn’t mean that you are being gullible or too free in sharing yourself. It simply means that you are willing to express your emotional truth in a given moment.

Being vulnerable is really just being open. Open to the good things and the bad things. Without one or the other, we wouldn’t be having a full life experience. An open heart may experience heartache but a closed heart cannot feel love. If you’re too busy worrying about protecting yourself from being hurt all the time, you may miss out on all of the love and joy that could come in the most unexpected of ways. I offer you to see vulnerability as one of your greatest strengths. You may find that you’re stronger than you had ever imagined.

Love,

Joseph

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6 comments

  1. Pingback: The greatest thing that ever happened to me | The HeSo Project
  2. Pingback: Can we start over? « ofsol
    • jpate05

      Thanks for reading my post and commenting on it. I haven’t seen Brene Brown’s Ted video but I’ll check it out along with your post. Thanks again!

  3. paul

    A great message. As a man I have at times, really struggled with the MAN God made me. I care. I trust. I believe the only way to truly know who is good in my life, is to be exposed. But as you stated, society often times labels a man like that, as “weak.”
    Well, I spent a few years in prison. In an environment of great physical vulnerability, but one void of emotion. You CANT share pain, or sorrow, or loss. You HAVE TO build “walls.”
    When I got out, I truly knew what to value. Who to value. And how much strength it actually takes to be vulnerable.

    • jpate05

      Thank you, Paul. I appreciate you sharing your experience and perspective. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to clearly SEE value and understand the strength behind vulnerability.

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