Weak is what we feel when we are in the process of resisting vulnerability.
And we feel weak precisely because we are in the process of resisting being vulnerable.
Everyone is naturally vulnerable. Some of us just spend our life pretending we are too good for that stuff. We judge the emotional women. We judge the women who are more concerned with love and family life versus glamour and physical appearance.
And men? Well, men are vulnerable too…they just don’t express it the same because they are naturally emotionally more narrow than women, or because, well, society doesn’t allow them more status if they reveal their emotions.
It’s not for everyone. It’s not for most people; vulnerability. But it might be for you. Because vulnerable people are more likely to see straight through man’s shit, and more likely to keep real friends, not followers.
Best of all, vulnerability gives us the gift of owning ourselves, and not getting hooked by other people’s judgements, and attempted manipulations of us.
One of ‘Those’ moments
I was about to snap back at him because I felt humiliated. But I stopped; something told me to wake the hell up.
I had rushed to the gym, and before I left home I reminded myself to cut the tag off my new t shirt. You know what happened next, don’t you? I forgot to cut the tag off and went to the gym with the tag still on.
I’m cool like that.
I went about my work out, headphones in, and 10 minutes in to my work out, a man came after me and tapped me on the back; I turned around, and he started to talk, but then pointed to his ears to suggest to me to take my earphones out of my ears. I felt confused at that point, and scared.
What was this man so urgently trying to communicate to me?
I said; ‘earphones?’ he then pointed to my neck area, and I instantly knew he was pointing out my tag.
‘Ohh! I said, touching the tag behind, and looking towards him. ‘Thanks!’ I said.
Then I proceeded to put my water bottle down so I could pull the tag off. Just after I said thanks and the man was walking off….he laughed heartily and LOUDLY. As he did that, he asked; ‘do you want me to help you take it off??’
I said ‘oh no thank you, that’s ok!’
I noticed a gut reaction came up from a feeling of adrenaline when he walked off laughing…(like, he laughed?? roarrrr) a visual reaction played in front of my eyes for a milisecond, of me turning to him and sarcastically saying; ‘oh is it funny, is it?’
But some ‘thing’ in my head called me out on my gutlessness. Instead of saying such a nasty thing back to him, I made my body turn to him and forced myself to make eye contact and responded with what I said above (‘oh no thank you, that’s ok!’ ) instead.
I spent 10 more minutes working out. In those 10 minutes my mind and body were feeling and thinking different things.
My mind was like ‘meh just keep going, hold out, look calm…it’s just a freaking tag. No need to feel humiliated.’
Yet, as I had stopped myself barking back a nasty comment to him and surrendered to my slight feeling of embarrassment and humiliation, I realised even though I was thinking so many things; my body was feeling free, because the moment I engaged with this man, and that moment where I looked him in the eye, I was attuned to him and felt HIM.
I’ll tell you the implications of this in a moment.
But the thoughts in my head going ‘look calm and capable, it’s just a tag’, – all that ‘stuff’? It’s from my past.
It was irrelevant talk to try to mask my vulnerability; to avoid feeling embarrassment. It was in the past. It (the stuff) didn’t have a clue, as the mind often doesn’t when it comes to human emotion.
The mind tries to stop us from surrendering to real relationships, to our gut; our pelvis, and our bodily sensations.
My wide open body though, which was actually ready to actively and vulnerably FEEL embarrassment related to the situation was surprisingly free; because the moment I chose to look him in the eye and engage with this man, rather than recoil out of fear of being vulnerable and feeling my embarrassment was the moment I realised…this is what it’s all about.
Confidence in relationships is vulnerability
This is confidence.
This feels like freedom. This feels like radiance. This is the very definition of success. Anyone can take anything away from us. They can take away our money, our career at the drop of a hat, we can lose jobs, partners, have acid thrown on our pretty faces, have our life collapse…but no one can take away the feeling that we own ourselves; and that we are capable.
You know what I believe capability is?
Capability in our relationships specifically, is vulnerability.
The two Types of vulnerability that are important for healthy relationships
And in this interaction with this man at the gym, if I chose, I was free to be vulnerable in 2 ways and 2 ways that matter to ALL of us:
1) vulnerable in the sense of I was attuned to him, the man. Not to my ‘head’ which was not the present, it was the past.
2) Vulnerable in feeling exactly what the interaction made me feel.
Every feeling is ok
It’s ok to feel embarrassed. Embarrassment is ok; and not to be resisted. Once I felt it, it was gone. It didn’t keep confronting me.
Rejecting emotion is to assume that we are inhuman; not ‘alive’ – another word for a bitch or a pretentious prick.
But wait, there’s more.
I happened to walk over to the drinking tap at the same time as this man, and we met again. I took one earphone out, as I smiled at him and he smiled back.
The moment we smiled at each other, he said to me; ‘I’m actually one of the personal trainers here at the gym, I wasn’t trying to hassle you.’
I looked in to his eyes, knowing that what I know of men through my work and study, most decent men don’t at all want to come across one of those sleazy hassling douchebags…and I said; ‘oh, I didn’t feel hassled, just embarrassed!’ as I smiled. And he walked off again, laughing heartily again, this time, not as loud, and softer.
And he said ‘oh I just saw the tag and thought; she might wanna know about that!’
Attunement to a man and to our feelings is vulnerable
As I smiled and filled my bottle up at the tap, I thought; he laughed…and if I wasn’t willing to just ‘be’ with him in that moment, and be wide open, I would have withdrawn, and avoided him (the opposite of vulnerable). Or I would have ignored him or just assumed he was laughing because he was a total loser, getting off on my embarrassing incedent.
But because I (hope) I allowed my trembling insides to fully open to this interaction, I suddenly realised that yes, there might have been douchebags in my past…but being able to feel this man’s heart by allowing myself to relax, I was able to see him for truly who he is.
I felt it. I knew it.
I felt that he was a genuinely good guy who really thought he was helping me out. Wow.
Do you know what I felt in that moment?
It was one of those moments that defined my life from then on. It taught me that being vulnerable is what made me completely strong; and completely capable of having a relationship with a man I wanted, and didn’t have to just ‘settle’ for some half committed man…because I suddenly felt what it was like to allow wide open vulnerability sweep over my gut, my pelvis, my body…
They say ‘pain is weakness leaving the body’
And do you know when I actually felt weak?
I felt weak shortly after my first interaction with him, where my mind kept telling me to ‘act calm…it’s just a tag’….because that IS weakness.
It was weak and I FELT weak because I was totally resisting being wide open to my feeling of embarrassment, just in that moment. But for the rest of the time…I felt free.
And when I was open to embarrassment, suddenly, it didn’t matter anymore…because my senses were perked then…and because my senses were well, sensitive, as they should be, I could also feel the beauty of gratitude for this man, of relief, of humour, of this man’s happiness for feeling like he helped me…and most of all, I was able to sense him based on who he is in the now, and not judge him based on a douchey baggery dude from my past.
I think in sport they say ‘pain is weakness leaving the body’, well, I believe it’s true of emotions.
Why does resisting vulnerability makes us weak?
The reason resisting vulnerability makes us feel weak is because resisting vulnerability is all about being separate from others, and not willing to truly connect, eye-to-eye, and be totally attuned to that person; or be attuned to just people; animals, babies, our children.
United we stand, divided we fall.
We let ourselves fall when we forget that we are a part of something. We are each other. We are all a part of someone, of something, of…things that we can’t even describe.
And we ARE weak when we are invulnerable and unwilling to feel; because people are less likely to relate to us and form strong, loyal, trusting relationships with us.
Interestingly, in an article on scientific American, the author pointed out how humans became so successful at being the dominant species on the planet; ‘surely one important key to our success to date is our unique ability to cooperate in large, well organised groups – at a rate and more expansively than other animals.’
We were made to thrive together; we have just segregated ourselves.
Who do we need when things turn to crap in our life?
We need a man, friends, family, our pets, our children. That’s who.
And who isn’t there when we are trying to avoid our actual feelings?
Well, most people aren’t there.
People can’t get in if they tried.
Sometimes it’s because they themselves hate being around you when you’re vulnerable as it reminds them of their own immortality and lack of control.
A lot of times, it’s because of the way we communicate – ie; we don’t communicate vulnerably. We expect people to read us and know us and just well ‘be there’.
Imagine being an 80 year old lady….almost your whole life, your whole existence is behind you….and yet you feel strong and ready for death, because…you’ve surrendered to the inevitability of disintegration. This is strength. And one day, it is ALL we will have, you and I.
Our existence isn’t guaranteed; and wide openness is what is valuable, and makes us high value, and less able to attract douchebags.
Your vulnerability is your strength. In some cases, it’s all you’ve got.
It’s what makes you real, whole, responsive, in tune, capable, and connected and loved, and able to connect with anything and anyone that you want.
It is also what makes you able to feel people’s bad intent, if they do deliberately want to hurt you. It helps you see who really cares. Because your senses become perked to how their actions really make you feel…your gut and your authenticity are able to serve you now.
United we stand, divided we fall.
But we can’t unite and have a sacred relationship without this strength of vulnerability.
Who was the last person whose lack of vulnerability hurt your heart very deeply?
Who was the last person you connected deeply to?
P.S. Have you also dealt with your man pulling away? Do you know how to react if it happens?