Vulnerability holds both heartache and delight. Traditionally, vulnerability has been seen as weakness, but on the spiritual path we must be open to hold our weaknesses and fears compassionately. By drawing them into the light of self-examination they can lead to profound transformation, and this takes bravery. To walk willingly toward that which is inwardly challenging is the spiritual warrior’s mission.
The reason we usually shy away from this charge is because it's not easy and it does not always lead to the results we want (i.e. honor, validation, support and acceptance by others.); but, by having the courage to face our own vulnerability and to share it authentically with others, we will evolve psychologically and spiritually. If we don't, we may stay stuck in the places that have made us vulnerable to begin with, such as the fears and self-doubts. While on the spiritual level, we won't evolve toward the awareness of our soul’s potential strength and clarity.
Here's how to practice vulnerability in order to empower your spiritual journey and...
How to Practice Vulnerability
Trust Those Close to Your Heart
To begin practicing vulnerability, we start by extending our inner self in small ways. We can allow our tender insides to be seen by people we trust and who have our best interests at heart. If we tend to avoid conflict because we feel vulnerable in the midst of it, we can start by speaking up for a small need that we have when it is in opposition to another’s, explaining why this need is important to us. Or if we are usually super self-sufficient, never willing to ask for help even when at our breaking point, we can allow someone to see where we are losing it a bit and in need of support.
We must recognize the difference between legitimate need and neediness, which can lead to an over-sharing of vulnerability in order to receive sympathy. Remember, bravery is a quality of strength and we must be able to stand strong when we ask for a need to be met by another and they are unable or unwilling to do so. This is when practicing vulnerability actually reinforces our inner strength because we have to be strong enough to show our weakness and strong enough to pick ourselves up when not supported. There are never any guarantees when practicing vulnerability. Sometimes it will be used against us, so we need to use discernment and pace ourselves.
Ultimately, sharing the ways in which we do not always feel strong or capable, or the ways in which we have made mistakes, reinforces our inner capacity for strength and the ability to make better choices in the future. At the core of all painful experiences lies a seed of self-awareness and personal growth.
Contemplate Your Weaknesses
Consider for a moment a weakness you feel you have now. Contemplate how this weakness might actually be a strength in another situation or if used slightly differently. For example, maybe you are extremely sensitive to your environment and other people’s energy. This takes a toll because you're constantly affected by changes and any negativity around you. By sharing that you are challenged by a certain relationship or environment, you may be judged or criticized by others who do not understand this sensitivity. You can cultivate more strength by setting appropriate boundaries for yourself energetically and working on ways to filter negative energy so it does not stick with you. At the same time, you can appreciate that this sensitivity makes you empathetic and able to feel, hear and see things that other people miss. When you have strengthened yourself with energy clearing techniques and personal boundaries, then you can use your sensitive, empathetic awareness to facilitate understanding or conflict resolution for others, a skill so needed in our world today.
(More on why Why Empathy Is Essential to Your Well-being.)
Create Balance With Non-attachment
Bravery is the willingness to walk toward something that is challenging with courage and faith, but without any attachment to the final results. Courage is the willingness to be afraid and act anyway. Letting go of the need to self-protect is the first step toward living in a balance of bravery and vulnerability. Ultimately, this balance is what creates an inner security of self-knowing that carries us through the trials of life.
Be Brave Knowing You're Already Limitless
The philosophical texts of yoga, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras, are constantly reminding us to look beyond the veil of not-knowing (avidya) to see our true nature as limitless, powerful spiritual beings. We are so much more than the human strengths and weaknesses that challenge us in this moment. When we remember that we are part of the one great Self that holds all within it, then we don’t feel so small and vulnerable anymore. Even though we are not in full Self-realization yet, we no longer feel vulnerable as separate because we know we are sourced by Spirit (Purusha). The more we affirm and pray to know ourselves as Self, the braver we become.
Then we will trust that as we share our vulnerable, still-evolving human selves with others, we will remain safe regardless of their response. The practice of vulnerability is exactly what makes us stronger and less vulnerable over time. In being our true selves, however we are today, we have opened a door for more authentic relationships and connections to flourish.
(Continue reading in Who Am I? Philosophy Behind This Big Question and How to Answer It.)