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Jon Hansen You have given words to a process that defies words. And you’re constantly in a position to help me continue to hone that, deeper and deeper and more and more resonantly, who I am and what I offer, which is truly invaluable. — Jon Hansen, The Remembering Room, Richmond, Illinois
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Jenn Whiteford Givler I love the way you take the energetic and esoteric aspects of business birthing, and tell us how we are going to bring them into the physical. People like us — we see the vision, and we know that’s our subconscious telling us that’s where we need to go. But it’s not always easy to get from the esoteric to the physical. You are BRILLIANT at that. This work is amazing, and I’m so glad we’re working together!
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What is vulnerability?

What is vulnerability?

It seems that many people define it as a public expression of what they’re feeling, especially fear or insecurity.

I’m unconvinced.  That may be true for some people, of course.  But to me, that sort of running around emotionally naked seems a lot more like exhibitionism than vulnerability.  To me, it smacks more of someone who’s feeling a need for attention and reassurance.  Nothing wrong with that – but that’s not what real vulnerability is about.

I believe that showing up with all of your real self, living the deepest truths of who you are and the things that profoundly matter to you, is far more vulnerable than expressing emotions.  My friend Jon calls this “going in through the front door,” an image which I find very evocative of how it feels.

This is where the heart lies.  This is where the disdain, disapproval, or casual dismissal from others can be most harshly painful.

Everyone has fears.  It’s part of human life to be afraid.  But what are you afraid for?  What lies under the fear – what is your fear protecting?  

I believe that’s where real vulnerability happens:  accepting and understanding your fear, and then going in through the front door anyway, as much and as often as you can.  Without fanfare, without waving the vulnerability flag, just letting your heart show in what you do. 

It’s simple, but not necessarily easy.  And it’s what I want to do, here and in every other aspect of my life. 

Vulnerability, like everything important in life, is intensely individual and personal.  What I’ve written here is an expression of what vulnerability means to me.  It won’t resonate for everyone; it may not resonate for you.  Whether it does or not, I’d like to hear your thoughts. 

What does vulnerability mean to you?

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Comments

Comment from Adam Kayce
Time 2009/02/23 at 9:45 am

To me, vulnerability is about being willing to test your assumptions.

We carry around these assumptions (call them beliefs, if you want) that “if we x, then y will happen,” where ‘x’ is usually something self-revealing, and ‘y’ is usually something like the fit hitting the shan.

Once I know what my assumptions are, then vulnerability is about being willing to test that out – to try to do x, whatever it is, and see if y is going to happen, or not.

And, if it doesn’t, then the assumption gets disproved, and we live a bit freer as a result.

Comment from Grace
Time 2009/02/23 at 4:49 pm

Adam – oh, yes. What a great awareness – thank you for posting it.

Do you find that often simply being aware of the “if x, then y” assumptions will cause them to release on their own, or to at least loosen their grip? And that maybe questioning … gee, is that really true, that this will happen? … helps as well?

Comment from Jenni
Time 2009/02/24 at 11:34 am

To me, vulnerability is knowing what’s true for me in any given moment–what I feel, believe, need, or want–and being willing to live from that place.

Not act it out or even necessarily refer directly to it, unless it’s to a select few people, but just BE it.

Comment from Grace
Time 2009/02/24 at 11:37 am

Jenni – yes, yes yes!

I was just writing an email to someone about exactly this: the amazing, immense joy of standing in that place of knowing, and living fully from that place.

Thank you!

Comment from Jessi
Time 2009/02/24 at 11:49 am

All the above are true – and I add to it that vulnerability may also be situational. While expressing your emotions for “dramatic” effect may not be vulnerability, doing so in the face of fear, possible ridicule – yet believing it an authentic, needed action may also be evidence of vulnerability.

Comment from Adam Kayce
Time 2009/02/24 at 3:04 pm

I like Jenni’s comment; I see that as an example of knowing that you’ve got an assumption going on, and yet choosing to show up in the midst of it. “Feel the fear and do it anyway,” as they say, but with awareness-guns blazing.

Grace, you said,

Do you find that often simply being aware of the “if x, then y” assumptions will cause them to release on their own, or to at least loosen their grip? And that maybe questioning … gee, is that really true, that this will happen? … helps as well?

I’ve found that sometimes, awareness is enough. But it depends on how “lodged in place” that assumption is. If it’s got lots of “roots”, per se (to borrow a James Ray analogy)… many experiences where things went sour, so we’re really believing in the fears & illusions… then awareness alone may not do a whole heck of a lot. ‘Loosen the grip’, yes; complete turnaround? Maybe not.

In those cases, I like using something like EFT or some other inner reflection/cleaning/healing practice to go to work on them, and do a little excavating of those assumptions.

Re: “Questioning” – tricky one. I know a lot of people like self-inquiry as a healing method, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as people would like to believe. It’s a case of conscious mind vs. unconscious mind – the unconscious will win every time, hands down.

I believe that unless you do something to affect change on a deeper level, questioning it alone isn’t useful for much more than a shift in your present-moment awareness. Good to do, but more to be had.

(Sorry for the long comments; I’m trying not to write a book about a book-worthy subject here! ;-) )

Comment from Grace
Time 2009/02/25 at 8:25 am

Jessi – Yes, indeed! I’d actually say that vulnerability is always situational. And if I implied that I thought expressing emotions is always dramatic, rather than vulnerable, I apologize. That wasn’t my intent at all.

Adam – Funny, I am actually not a huge fan of EFT, though I know many who are. :)

I agree that self-inquiry is often a tricky proposition, especially in the beginning before a deeper sense of awareness has had a chance to arise. However, guided inquiry is a whole different ball game. When facilitated by someone who’s good at it, inquiry becomes a powerful tool, in my experience. Then, once you’ve had a chance to experience the shifts and insights, over time it becomes easier and effective to do it on your own.

But as Jessi said, so much of this is situational, and all of it is very personal and individual!

No need to apologize for a long comment – I think it’s great, and thank you for participating!

Comment from Adam Kayce
Time 2009/02/25 at 10:42 am

I like EFT, personally, but it, like many other tools, is a tool. And situational at that. It works great for me at times, but other times, I don’t find much shifting with it, so I know I need to use a different tool.

And, I agree with you on the guided piece; having the presence of another person there, even if they don’t chime in with their own perspectives, but rather give you space to experience what you need to, can work wonders.

My whole point (uh oh, I’m making a point now — look out! ) is that sometimes the conscious mind doesn’t have the oomph to make powerful enough shifts that will really change our course. Awareness can be grand, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of transformation. Sometimes, it’s gotta go deeper than that.

Okay, that’s all! :)

Comment from Grace
Time 2009/02/25 at 10:49 am

Adam – Love it when people make points! :)

Seriously, though, I think you and I are saying very similar things. I’m feeling like apparent differences are actually semantics at play rather than real differences in thought or intent.

Thanks so much for coming to play here! This kind of conversation is great fun and helps me, in any event, take my thoughts and understandings deeper, so I appreciate it for myself and on behalf of other readers who, hopefully, are also gaining from it.

Comment from Char
Time 2009/03/01 at 12:03 pm

Vulnerability – in my mind, is an experience and what sticks with me most about it is that I can’t really describe it analytically with words. The language just doesn’t capture it for me.

It is a feeling of trusting that whatever is up with me I’m willing to share and be open about to the best of my ability.

It’s offering myself some compassion and empathy for whatever it is, and however it shows up. It’s being willing to make a mistake, put my foot all the way in my mouth, show my nakedness – and stay with whatever comes up as I share that with another person.

And for me it is a work in progress.

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