Vulnerability  —  5 things

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Body­work

Espe­cial­ly in the West, vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty is con­sid­ered a weak­ness. This is taught to us by our par­ents and tribes, who are, of course, con­cerned for our safe­ty. How­ev­er, this fear of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty is ingrained at a deep lev­el, to our detri­ment, once we become adults. (This is one rea­son most adults aren’t!)

Back when there was a site, there was a high­ly pop­u­lar Body­work sec­tion. I’ve been work­ing on turn­ing the infor­ma­tion into a book / e‑book. So, let me know–good idea? You interested?

1. The courage of being vulnerable -

Consider: most people are looking for intimacy  —  and by that I mean, simply, “to be known.”

If I hide, maybe no one
will notice me!

But they fear let­ting oth­ers in””or at least want their safe­ty 100% assured, before they will let down their guard. This is so because of the ingrained and mis­tak­en belief that one can be hurt through the betray­al of another.

No one hurts us but ourselves

Sure, peo­ple betray us. Peo­ple walk away, leave us, judge and crit­i­cize us. This is a part of life. And yes, there is pain. But the pain is self-inflict­ed, as we tell our­selves awful stories.

The norm is to roll into a tight ball and to refuse to risk again.

An alter­na­tive is to open up and risk it all, time and time again.

Sure, such an action means that some­thing might hap­pen, and you might just choose to again pick up the knife of self-fla­gel­la­tion, and go at your­self again.

The alternative to vulnerability is not courage, but isolation, woundedness.”

From a body­work per­spec­tive, the sign of iso­la­tion and fear is “legs tight­ly closed, arms crossed over the heart, head down.” Like the pic­ture, above.

The cure is opening up.

Which takes courage. Not because there is a big bad boogey­man out there, wait­ing to pounce. It’s all about you, and in this case, it’s all about fac­ing up to how ico­lat­ing fear can be.

Once I tru­ly and deeply under­stand that all psy­chic pain is self-inflict­ed (All of it. 100% Every­thing going on inside of you is you, etc.) I can be gen­tle and kind with myself. I can uncross my arms, open my legs, plant my feet firm­ly on the ground, and look up.

And I can speak my deep­est, most inti­mate truth.

2. Being vulnerable means speaking your truth

Not the truth. Not oth­er peo­ple’s truth. Not the truth of “Every­body knows.” The truth that comes from 

Here is what is so for me, and here is what I do with this truth.”

Most­ly, we try to defend our truth, and in this way main­tain both con­trol and a (mis­tak­en) sense of invulnerability.

Speak­ing your truth is an inter­est­ing con­cept. Most take it to mean, “End­less­ly regur­gi­tat­ing the same sto­ry, so that oth­ers will agree with me.” For me, it begs the ques­tion, “What do you want?” Which tends to be the ques­tion I ask when some­one starts into this pattern.

Speak­ing your truth is not about get­ting oth­ers on board with your stuck­ness. It’s open­ing your­self to what lies direct­ly beneath the stories.

3. Vulnerability is here and now

Which explains why it’s not about sto­ries. Sto­ries, at best, serve as a frame­work for true vulnerability.

Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty is about let­ting out what is going on for you, right now, with no expla­na­tions. This is me, right now. And part of “me, right now,” are the emo­tions that are hap­pen­ing inside. Not descrip­tions of the emo­tions, not blam­ing some­one for the emo­tions, but rather the emo­tions them­selves.

Once you are able to both see this and express it, you’ll also notice that emo­tions are fleet­ing. I can be sad, then bored, then weepy, then laugh-filled, then have the feel­ing of “noth­ing much.” But only if I do not cling to the “end­less real­i­ty” of my sto­ry, a.k.a. think­ing too much.

4. Vulnerability is unguarded

Unguard­ing your­self means being will­ing to both own and share your in-the-moment real­i­ty, with­out much (or any) fil­ter­ing. Again, this flies in the face of our conditioning.

Our tribes shut this sort of shar­ing down. Par­ents who fear inti­ma­cy and emo­tions tend to either dis­tract (“You have a great life! What do you have to be sad about?”) or threat­en, (“I’ll give you some­thing to be sad about!”) to get us to stop emoting. 

How much better to teach our children to responsibly express and process their emotions!

Being unguard­ed is not about being unhinged, although that’s OK too. 

The point of let­ting go is to clear the decks so that you can begin to shift what is not work­ing. Let­ting go gives us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see how we are struc­tur­ing our sto­ries to stay stuck, and to com­mit to, and actu­al­ly do some­thing new and refresh­ing. It’s not meant as an exer­cise in self aggran­dize­ment, and emphat­i­cal­ly is not a game to stay stuck, while pre­tend­ing to “get it.”

Unguard­ed means loos­en­ing the fil­ters, and express­ing your­self as you are, with focus and clarity.

5. Vulnerability is body-work

As com­pared to mind work. You can’t be vul­ner­a­ble if all you do is describe what you are feel­ing, think­ing, and want­i­ng. This is where sto­ry telling blos­soms, and “Every­one knows…” rears its ugly head.

Yes!!! Push there!!!

While describ­ing is cer­tain­ly a step in an inter­est­ing direc­tion (as opposed to stuff­ing it all,) it’s only quasi-vulnerability. 

Many say, “Some­thing comes up, I start to dis­cuss it, get upset, and imme­di­ate­ly leave the room, so that I can go ‘fig­ure it out.’ Once I’ve calmed down, I come back and tell my part­ner what I’ve discovered.”


This is run­ning away, actu­al­ly, couched in the rubric of dialog.

This is feeling what’s going on in your body, freaking out, and rapidly escaping to the head.

We’d sug­gest stay­ing in your body, and let­ting your part­ner par­tic­i­pate in the process, with­out run­ning away. If you do so, you will like­ly dis­cov­er an inter­est­ing thing.

There are points in your body just scream­ing for a bit of pres­sure to be applied. And when pres­sure is applied, all kinds of sounds and emo­tions emerge, then fade, and what­ev­er the dra­ma was, fades with them.

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