Vulnerability, as defined by Merriam-Webster:
1 : capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
2 : open to attack or damage
Simply put; susceptibility to harm, physically or emotionally, whether intentional or accidental.
This is all implied as weakness, and most of humanity takes all precaution to avoid such an unpleasant experience. It has connotations of being at the mercy of others whims, and has shades of fear sewn into its very fabric in the reality we live in.
Through predominant culture, humanity has become accustomed to shoring up all of the perceived vulnerabilities and threats to their intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual selves. The vast percentage of Western culture has worked to completely sever the true connection all life has to each other, to the point of denying its existence.
The way we combat the physical vulnerabilities is obvious. Infrastructure, government, military, agriculture, etc. A large portion of the world we have built is directly tied to shoring-up physical vulnerabilities, real or perceived. Oftentimes this brings us to points of conflict with others. This is merely symptomatic of living with a closed intellectual, emotional, and spiritual body.
How humanity combats vulnerability in hearts and minds is a completely different story.
Closed Heart & Mind = Closed Spirit
What are the ways one protects their mental and emotional bodies?
The overt ways are easy to spot:
- Unhealthy solitude
- Poor attitude
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just a set of examples that we all see everyday. The subtle ways we close our hearts to life around us are less easy to spot, and perhaps more toxic due to the acceptance and dominance in the current culture.
- Judgment of others
All of these are defensive mechanisms designed to protect the heart, avoid the true emotional response of the moment, and true connection. The direct result for our society is frighteningly obvious:
- Environmental destruction
- Severe wealth inequality
- Cultural destruction
- Children killing children
In-short, I see fear of being vulnerable as the largest dis-service one can do for their physical health, personal growth, today’s society, and future generations. The nature of man is to live with an open heart, that means living in a state of vulnerability.
But the Feels… All the Feels.
Here’s the part where living a vulnerable life gets tricky… It has a tendency to hurt, at times a lot; hence the emotional walls in the first place. What does one do with the unpleasant emotions if not block them out?
Feel them (period).
This is the only answer. Feel them, identify them, work to understand the hurt, the fear, the dis-pleasure, and the uncomfortable feelings.
- Why does it hurt?
- Why am I afraid?
- What is in me that recognizes the hurt in another?
- Or refuses to?
- What bothers me about the situation?
- When did this begin in my life?
- What am I going to do with these feelings?
- How do I want to feel?
I cannot give any answer to the questions above, these are for each to individually answer for themselves and are just a starting point for self-reflection. Peel back the layers of emotions, examine your own walls and defenses, your offenses, the truth you cling to. Start to unravel the emotions and experiences and attitudes surrounding your personal world-view. How much is designed around control and fear? How much is designed around love and faith?
Once these questions are asked and the answers found, what is one left with? Once one is stripped of the self-imposed identity of apathy, sarcasm, and cynicism, what is waiting on the other side of this hard (and, at times, painful) work?