Vulnerability – Fear or Freedom

Recently I had an experience that made me feel very vulnerable in an emotional as well as physical way.

I got myself into an argument with somebody over a situation where the other person was at fault. I got quite angry and didn’t want to let it go. The result was that I was met with aggression and threatened with pretty drastic violent and destructive actions. Those sorts of threats go to the bone in me. I had nightmares that night and couldn’t rest the next day until that situation could be somehow resolved. I felt fearful, very vulnerable and tense, and also found it very hard to let go of my position of being right and that I was the victim.

But holding this position felt very stubborn, hard, and I knew that holding on to it wouldn’t go anywhere, and in this case it was also increasing the threat and my fear of being exposed to more violence, rather than dissolving the situation. There I was, feeling unfairly treated, then threatened on top of that, ‘made’ into this frightened victim and angry about it.

I was actually feeding the monster by holding onto this so strongly!

Then it dawned on me that to get out of this feeling of tension, fear and victimhood, I had to surrender. Give up my emotional position and surrender to what I really felt.

I felt the pain of disconnection from myself and from the person I’ve had that argument with, and I could see that I was in part also responsible for the violent reaction towards me as a direct result of my own provocative, angry reaction. And I strongly felt that an apology was needed, to myself as well as to the person I had the argument with, to heal the harm done to both of us by my reaction.

I also felt that I needed to reconnect truly to my inner love, knowing and trusting that this reconnection would support me and bring me back to a state of inner settlement and strength. I needed to surrender to the unfolding of what was happening around me, while doing my best on a practical level to resolve the situation.

That is allowing a vulnerability that doesn’t feel like I’m a victim, but quite the opposite.

I am in charge of my body and mind; I choose to connect to my inner being and not to be ruled by emotions or expectations. I choose to be open, to love myself and then to let everybody see the real me, even if I feel exposed and vulnerable. If I choose to let go of my position of being right or being a victim, let the other know how I really feel, I then open myself to a love that includes us both, that makes us equal. My experience is that it does not matter whether the other person is open to it or still locked in their own position. If I stay open and truthful and don’t react emotionally but accept where the other is at, it takes the heat out of the situation, and most often the situation will then run a much more productive course.

I took all the practical steps to clear the situation, and along the way I kept bumping into resistance, not only on a practical level but also in myself, where I had to keep accepting that the world and people are not perfect and everybody has their story. But the most important step was to choose to be loving and open with myself, and stay an observer in this difficult situation.

Not easy – if I didn’t have the trust in my own inner knowing that I am love and I am loved, and that we all are equally that divine love, I probably couldn’t do it at all.

I also realised that holding on to a position of being a victim and feeling vulnerable to the actions of others often comes with anger and wanting to hurt the other back somehow, and that feels like a very hard cage around me, sometimes so tight that I can hardly breathe. Letting all of that go and allowing myself to feel all the layers of hurt, seeing the protective shield that I have built and the separation that I have created with it, allowed me to see the difference between the vulnerability that is based on fear and the vulnerability that I allow by choosing to drop my emotional protection. That vulnerability is based on openness, trust and surrender, and it is such a relief to feel that restrictive cage of the fear-based vulnerability drop off –– a feeling of expansion and, yes, love.

By R.P., Australia

Related Reading:
Human Relationships: Let’s Make Them About Love.
Control & reaction v space & grace
Road rage … can we regain control of our reactions?

344 thoughts on “Vulnerability – Fear or Freedom

  1. So true R.P., vulnerability reflects an ultimate strength, and is very inspiring. I am always totally inspired when I see such beautiful transparency.

  2. Vulnerability without victimhood – this is amazing! And I Love the way that by taking responsibility for your part in the situation, you have actually empowered both yourself and the other person.

  3. I have had moments in my life where I have taken the plunge and chosen vulnerability. When I have done this, I find there is a moment where I can feel the fear, but once I get over that, I get to feel the prison I have made for myself by not sharing and expressing what I actually feel, allowing people to see my vulnerability and the loveliness of that.

  4. It is very beautiful to feel this tender vulnerability in ourselves and others…. and as you share “If I choose to let go of my position of being right or being a victim, let the other know how I really feel, I then open myself to a love that includes us both, that makes us equal.”

  5. I find when I react to a situation or to someone, it is like I am opening an invitation for others to react back and things can easily escalate into further abuse. Whereas if I stay steady, observe and then respond lovingly it doesn’t feed into abuse or conflict. Another example is, when someone is reacting towards something I did or said, it is also my responsibility to hold steady and not say yes to the invitation to react but say yes to being love and respond back with love.

  6. To hold steady, respond and not react is certainly the thing if we can, and whatever happens to be open and honest about what we are truly feeling is a great way to be. There are so many old illusions about bottling up and pretending all is ok which is just so unhealthy for us. And sometimes you have to be prepared to rock the boat, or to break eggs to make omelettes but when their air is cleared as they say the harmony is magical once again.

  7. “I had nightmares that night and couldn’t rest the next day until that situation could be somehow resolved.“ I have often felt like this when at odds with someone else. My thoughts would be entirely dominated by how I could fix it and my body would suffer hugely – nausea, upset stomach, huge anxiety etc. So bad was all this that I would do and say anything to fix it, to bring things back into what I thought at the time was balance, but was in fact status quo, not rocking the boat. In doing this you could argue that I was letting go of the need to be right and making love the most important thing, but what was actually happening was that I was compromising but feeling resentful and a victim just so I good get rid of the uncomfortable feeling of not being liked and smooth the stormy waters. Now, with this awareness, I am able to step back from the conflict and let go of my investment in the outcome (not always but so much more than ever before). In doing so I am no longer contributing to the dynamics of the situation which brings in space for everyone to take a step back and feel what’s going on.

  8. When we are open to realising the part we play in the situation and step away from being right or wrong we can let go of the victimhood and truly feel the depths of our hurt so that healing can take place.

    1. Ah such gorgeous words Jill – and it is so true, that on some level we all play a part in situations, and our capacity to support another and ourselves in these situations is key in restoring true brotherhood and collaboration.

  9. I love watching dogs interact, and especially the way that they surrender. When another dog gets super aggressive, there is usually one other dog that bares its belly, in other words it rolls over and offers its most vulnerable and unprotected part – when this happens it seems to diffuse the anger, it seems to diffuse the whole situation and the aggression often disappears. On the other hand when anger meets anger, then this usually ends up in a fight, and it is not pretty to watch. There is a message in this, where we can feel that when we choose to drop our protection and just be who we are, then we have the power to melt another. It does take a lot of courage and a lot of trust in a deep deep part of oneself to let go and drop protection, however the power of this cannot be underestimated ever.

  10. “Then it dawned on me that to get out of this feeling of tension, fear and victimhood, I had to surrender. Give up my emotional position and surrender to what I really felt.” It’s crazy how most of us are willing to stay in right and wrong with a strong sense of blame, blame only exasperates the situation leaving us all worse off.

  11. Its not the easiest thing to stop and feel where we have allowed ourselves to go when we are in reaction about something. Especially when others are buying into our story. We sometimes just want it to keep on going for extra leverage and because we are getting something out of it. Observing ourselves in those moments and stepping back is actually pretty amazing, and it allows us to see much more clearly what is going on without being affected by the situation.

  12. ‘I was actually feeding the monster by holding onto this so strongly!’ – It takes deep honesty and awareness to see the bigger picture that plays out and to be open to the fact that whenever we go into reaction we are actually contributing to the situation at play.

  13. The word vulnerability is like a lot of other words that we use that we totally misunderstand so it is great to set the record straight on what vulnerability actually means.

  14. The moment we opt for right and wrong and start defending ourselves, we know that an old hurt has been triggered. It is then not about the situation as such but about uncovering what is really going on underneath the surface. Once unearthed and addressed, there is always a simple answer to resolve the dilemma/issue or seeming problem.

    1. So true Gabriele. It is our old hurts that can and do cause so much conflict in our current relationships, so once we are willing to look at and deal with these, then we make the space for true and harmonious communication with whoever we are speaking to.

    2. Great point there is no ‘right and wrong’ only ‘love or not love’ which can be felt in our bodies energetically- when we view situations in this energetic way we can see things much more clearly and let go of our reactions more easily because we can feel the damage and harm that they do, even when we believe we are so called right!

  15. Yes it is like in life we think we should do anything but sharing how we are truly feeling and going into an argument is way more ‘normal’ than to being real. Even though we all love to be met and trusted.

  16. When we feel a force or hardness coming from someone else it is very tempting to meet it with force back believing that this is the only way to not get crushed or hurt by the force, but this is a trick because when we call in a force to counter it, we actually disconnect from our love and our soulfulness. When we stay focused and steady in remaining connected to love there is no force but a tremendous clarity, understanding and power which is very tender and open and holding and does not reduce us in any way.

  17. “I also realised that holding on to a position of being a victim and feeling vulnerable to the actions of others often comes with anger and wanting to hurt the other back somehow” – This is a really key point, because victimhood and sympathy are heavily promoted in our society, and although it’s important to recognise what has occurred and offer support to each other when things go wrong or we are subject to abuse, in order to ‘bounce back’ we have to offer each other the next point of ‘what next’. As in, you’ve been abused, so how can you now move forward, take responsibility for your part and set a new standard of love in life?

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