Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable?

How often do you open yourself up to opportunities, with every fiber of your being, knowing there is a possibility of hurt?  Do you spend more time protecting yourself from or opening up to your dreams, goals, or “ideal lifestyle”?

According to one definition of vulnerable is:  open to moral attack, criticism, temptation

Who wants that?

I remember the first time I consciously allowed myself to be vulnerable. I was nominated for a leadership position in a networking group, and lost the election. I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt a little but the truth is I learned more than I imagined including:

  • Even if I “lose” I’m ok.  And really, what did I lose?  My life didn’t change
  • Timing is everything.  A year later I was nominated again, and this time elected.
  • I am stronger when I allow myself these opportunities.  Now I know what it’s like to “fail” and I no longer have to be afraid of it.

As I taught a yoga class yesterday morning, I focused on heart opening poses or backbends. Backbends are energizing and perfect for a morning practice.  Here in the northeast we are experiencing more driving rains, and I thought backbends might be just what we all needed.

The students in my class are relatively new to yoga, so I haven’t brought too much of the non-physical in to practice until today.  During savasana, or the final relaxation, I guided them into stillness and words just flowed out of my mouth.

Allow yourself these next few minutes to be in complete stillness.  To let your body soften and your thoughts rest.  Continue to breathe deeply into your heart and feel it expand.  Connect in to your heart.  To who you are.  Allow yourself to feel that vulnerability.

Have you ever considered how much you are missing if you fail to be vulnerable?   For years, I lived in a constant state of self-protection.  I used exercise to create a “hard” surface that no one could penetrate through, keeping me safe. Or so I thought.  Deep down I hurt more and more because I failed to let people or opportunity in.  I didn’t want to be vulnerable and get hurt again.  My body was healthy, my mind and soul (which I define as the place where your passion and purpose can be found) not so much.  In order to open up I needed to relax more, let go of outcomes and expectations, build my confidence and self trust and connect to supportive people and environments.

These days when I feel “stuck” or scared, I think back to that lost election and remember that win or lose great things happen when I open up and become a little vulnerable. Doors open and possibilities present themselves.  You build strength and get to know yourself better.  Don’t get me wrong, protection is good, risk assessor is my middle name.  There is power in knowing when the reigns are pulled too tight and when it might be time to loosen up.

What about you? Do you open yourself up to be vulnerable or do you spend more time in protection mode?

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  • Chris Edgar

    Thanks for this — I can relate to that experience of using exercise — in my case, building up muscle and doing martial arts, and so on — as a way to feel protected, like “no one will disrespect me again.” I think a lot of men in particular experience that need. Just admitting that, I’ve found, feels liberating and relaxing.

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  • Hilary

    Hi Stacey .. it’s good to know how we can help ourselves .. keep our respect and confidence. Relaxation and just being in control of our core, breathing as we go through life – will give us peace in our hearts .. and we are who we are .. that’s important – as you managed to do with your election – not then, but later .. we learn so much from these experiences. Thank you .. Hilary

  • Lance

    Hmmm….being vulnerable….

    I think of the times I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, and how really it wasn’t that bad. And it has just usually been me “thinking” it’s sooo bad. So….protection mode, then. Do I spend any time there? (honest answer???) Yes. (not that I want to admit it…) Probably something to dig into there, eh….

    And – Stacey – I love the honesty you have shared in this post…

  • Evita

    Hi Stacey

    I can so relate to this. I have always been so independent that I too was for years living in a way that I was not vulnerable. Well what life taught me is that as much as we try to protect ourselves, or put up a shield there are still vulnerabilities, like falling in love with someone.

    But as I grew up and made sense of all this, I realized that as long as we are conscious, yes, it is okay to be vulnerable, because vulnerable does not have to mean weak. It just means that we allow ourselves to interact with life in the fullest of ways and I like that :)

  • Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord

    Stacey, this is such a beautiful and well written piece. Thank you for taking the time to express something so poignant. For me, it’s also relevant. I, too, spent more than a decade building a tough exterior, which manifested through physical exercise, muscles and “toughness.” Opening myself up — even when I thought I was doing it — rarely happened. I just didn’t understand what being open and vulnerable was all about. Perhaps I still struggle with this in some ways, although I know I’m opening more and more. I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable TO myself… To that harsh inner critic. It’s a process, but one that reaps huge rewards. When I lead with my heart, life just feels better. Feel Good Living! And I’m learning that hearts are tougher than we give them credit for. They are, after all, the muscles that keep us moving in this life. (smile)

    Be well and enjoy a perfect weekend!

  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Chris – Yes, when I finally accepted that as my “defense” it was liberating. The awareness was key.

    Hi Hilary – yes, in the moment it stings a little! But if we’re able to realize that and then see what we learned, it helps!

    Hi Lance – You bring up a good point…”thinking”…is often the root of so much fear!

    Hi Evita, I like how you put it – “interact with life in the fullest of ways and I like that” – I like that.

    Hi Megan – I can relate to the harsh critic. I love how you ended your comment…it is why I use a heart logo and what Feel Good Living is all about! Have a perfect weekend yourself!

  • Karl Staib – Work Happy Now

    I try to be vulnerable, but I don’t always succeed. There is this need to protect my ego. It’s a strong habit.

    I’ve worked on being more willing to laugh at myself. If I mess up I laugh instead of being a big bully to myself. Over these past few years I’ve gotten better, but still have a long way to go.

  • Daily Spiritual Tools

    When I was young vulnerabilty was a weakness that I was supposed to correct. As a woman of 50 plus years I find that being open and able to receive whatever life sends my way is not a weakness but a strength. I am glad to experience life as it comes and am open to all answers, positive and negative. I love to be connected to my heart, the inner Spirit that guides me. Thanks for this reminder. Namaste, Sherry (I just wrote a post called “The “I” who Observes Me” which you may enjoy.)
    Daily Spiritual Tools

  • Juline Godin

    Hi Stacey. This is my first visit to your Blog and I think it is wonderful! This piece on being vulnerable really resonates with me. As a women in business, I find that at times we work hard NOT to be vulnerable so we are taken seriously and are seen as assertive leaders. Many of the women executives that I work with talk about this often. This piece was a great reminder that being vulnerable can lead to more awareness of oneself and not to mention an openness to others. Thank You for this!

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Hi and welcome to the Brave Communicator blog where I write about communication as the path to well-being, trust, and influence.

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