People waste a lot of energy to avoid becoming vulnerable. Our ego tricks us into equating emotional openness with defenselessness, which terrifies us. So we learn to create an impenetrable wall around our heart and get accustomed to a harsh existence in the fortress of a cold, safe mind.
The problem is, our minds aren’t all that safe, are they?
A fearful mind can be your greatest tormentor, perceiving imaginary threats around every corner, keeping you stuck while convincing you it’s protecting you.
In actuality, the mind and the heart need each other. Rather than being adversaries, together they can provide a system of checks and balances. The mind gives definition to the self, providing focus and direction for the heart’s flowy expansiveness. The heart humanizes the cold logical mind, creating opportunity for connection by softening its rigid isolationism.
So how can you embrace vulnerability and open the heart to express your true self without feeling exposed and powerless?
The key tool is self compassion. Self compassion is acknowledging your own suffering and feeling warmth, caring, and the desire to help yourself in some way.
The easiest way to develop self compassion is to become mindful of when you feel bad, whether it’s from a mistake you made or the way another treated you, and then respond to yourself the way you would to someone who’s dear to you. In this way you develop your own inner source of support, which lessens the need of acceptance from others.
Having nothing to defend or hide is true freedom. The power to forgive and accept yourself strengthens you. You feel empowered to express who you really are, quirks and all.
When you are comfortable being your authentic self, you create a space for others to move into authenticity. People feel relaxed and more open in your presence. When you lay down your weapon and armor, others realize there’s no reason to continue wearing their heavy gear. They’re relieved to set it all down. Vulnerability allows us to move beyond the typically undatisfying surface relationship with others and connect deeply through our shared, beautifully flawed humanity.
Underneath our ego masks we all long to be truly seen and appreciated in our uniqueness. Vulnerability and self compassion are tools to liberate you from the stifling imprisonment of perfectionism.