Vulnerability shields: the activities we engage in, in order to reduce or avoid vulnerability.
I am writing to you today in the midst of a vulnerability crisis.
It’s so annoying when you learn something new and you absolutely KNOW that it is true, and you know what you are doing is not good for you, yet you cannot stop yourself from continuing that behaviour because you just…well…can’t.
This is where I am at.
I am really struggling with my “day job” at the moment. It is excuciatingly painful for me to turn up each day to this job that I feel is sucking the life out of me. It has been this way the last couple of years at least (most likely longer) but I have now reached the stage where I can no longer go on. I am in shut-down mode. I just don’t want to – can’t – do it anymore, period.
I am in limbo. I cannot leave, yet I cannot stay. I know what it is I want to achieve, yet when it comes to making progress, I may as well be running backwards.
So what do I do?
Yesterday, I scoffed two bars of chocolate on my way home from work. I would usually buy a bottle of wine too and down that over the course of the evening. However, I recently decided to give up wine for the time being and it’s just as well because this behaviour would be on repeat mode Monday to Friday right now!
I also postponed a date I was supposed to have, to later in the week. I just didn’t really want to go, not because I didn’t want to but because I didn’t “feel ready” to expose myself to someone again. This is a huge issue for me and I just can’t seem to get over this hurdle no matter how much work I do on myself.
Right now, Brene Brown’s mantra of “just let myself be seen” is running circles in my mind, yet I am battling against myself to just show up. Instead of facing it, I decide to distance myself and numb out.
This is how I deal with vulnerability.
When thinking about vulnerability in this way, it’s not hard to understand why we naturally resist being in this space. To be vulnerable can be excruciatingly uncomfortable (as I am experiencing) and down right scary.
Of course, we automatically want to protect ourselves from this uncomfortableness which seems like a good thing from the outset. Part of us is hardwired this way: the fight or flight syndrome. We are biologically wired to run away from danger. It would take great courage to stand our ground and fight the battle which we will only do if our lives absolutely depend on it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to vulnerability, the general mindset is to run run run as fast as we can away from it, because we think that our lives are better without vulnerability. In fact, vulnerability is weakness and it needs to be stamped out immediately, if not sooner. But how much harm are we really doing to ourselves when we run away from our vulnerabilities?
The answer is: bucket-loads.
If we do not practice vulnerability, if we cannot be comfortable with sitting with it and breathing it in, then we will never achieve anything and will be forever stuck inside our miserable, non-progress-making selves.
To be vulnerable takes courage, kindness and compassion and practice; there is that pesky word again!
Say hello to your vunerability shields.
- perfectionism (doing everything perfectly)
- numbing (using alcohol, drugs, food or work to deaden true feeling) – pssst: check out Jen’s awesome post about numbing!
- and ‘foreboding joy’, the dread that kills happiness.
The first time I heard this list, I recognised what I was doing wrong. I realised that I too have a tendancy to perfect, to numb out and to scare myself out of experiencing joy.
As I have said in previous posts, I think it is really important to be honest with ourselves at this stage. We have started to look at ourselves with more clarity by assessing our common thoughts and feelings, our beliefs and judgments, our strengths and weaknesses, and we have formulated some vulnerability goals.
Creative Exercise: what are your vulnerability shields?
Make a list of all the ways that you try to escape vulnerability.
Take a look at my list:
- drinking alcohol as a social lubricant
- carb foraging
- chocolate and ice-cream binges
- my perfectionist comes out – borderline compulsive cleaning and tidying the house
- withdraw and isolate myself from others
- blame others and get angry – it is easier to say: Screw you Mr. So and So…” than to admit hardship and vulnerability.
- place high expectations on others and certain scenarios – I KNOW that it is unlikely that these expectations will be met so I remain in my “safe” but miserable place.
- shopping, even if it gets me into more and more debt
- Oh, and the last thing…writing blog posts when I am at work…
Feel free to share your lists with us in The Soul Circle Facebook community – join up today!