Understanding Fear and Vulnerability

We live in a culture that seems to require perfection, popularity, fearlessness, and consistent strength. We see other people projecting these qualities, so we hold ourselves to those standards, as well. We forget that people can make their lives look as perfect as they want on social media. We forget that most everyone feels these same pressures so we’re not exactly forthcoming about our woes. So we continue to compare ourselves to a lifestyle that is completely unrealistic, and when we come up short (and we always will, because life is full of highs and lows, no matter what), we begin to believe that we are not enough.

This idea is detrimental on many levels. We doubt ourselves, our decisions, our capabilities. We wonder if our relationships are as genuine as we’d like, and if rejection is waiting just around the corner. We let shame creep into our thoughts and convince us that we are inherently bad, undeserving, and unworthy. We live in fear, build walls, and shut down. In doing so, we lose our vulnerability.

As Dr. Brené Brown discussed with Oprah, when we live with a scarcity mindset (I don’t have enough, I’m not liked enough, I’m not enough), the “biggest casualty is vulnerability”. We shut ourselves off to those around us and convince them and ourselves that we are impenetrable, that their actions do not and cannot affect us. But this is a lie. As human beings, we are meant to connect with each other. We thrive in our positive communications and interactions, so the opposite must be true of negative experiences with each other.

There have been times in my life that I have had inappropriate and damaging interactions with other people. I’ve known in my heart that what was happening was not okay, but I was so void of vulnerability that I didn’t know how to make myself stop it. Because if I said I was uncomfortable, then they would know that their actions had an affect on me. If I demanded that the behavior stopped, then I would be making it known that I valued myself, but who was I to be valued? I didn’t think I was worth much, so how was I to convince someone else that I was? We fear the outcome in situations that require vulnerability. What will they think of me? What will they say or do? Will I lose face? Will I lose my job? Why do we give a rat’s ass about what other people think? SPECIFICALLY the people who try to manipulate and hurt us? Marcus Aurelius said,

"It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own."

We need to work to recognize our value and worthiness. This takes effort and practice. Sometimes we need to fake it til we make it. But as we exercise vulnerability and stand up for ourselves, we will begin to see and truly believe in our own worthiness. We will see that we are enough exactly as we are. We will know without a doubt that we are worth protecting and that we only have room in our lives for people who respect and uplift us. Vulnerability is not a roadblock- it is the key to a full and wholehearted life.

xo M'Lisa


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