NATURAL HEALING: The Courage in Being Vulnerable

The last article that I wrote on the concept of the Chakras (as developed by the Ancient Hindu system) seemed to provoke a varied response from the reader base, some of them very funny indeed. I quite frankly enjoyed the sense of humor. I also Googled ‘ Naruto’, which is something new to me, so you guys taught me something! Bear in mind, though, that many of the names for modern (seemingly invented) concepts are in fact borrowed from pre-existing knowledge. So, just maybe, the creators of Naruto and other such shows know something that you don’t? Even the more serious or critical comments were in alignment with the purpose of the article. I encourage an interactive experience when I write, so I thank anyone and everyone who takes the time to comment on any of the articles. I really appreciate it. One of the many benefits that you facilitate is the development of the column to fit your needs. This is the perfect segue into the next topic up for examination: that of vulnerability. We all can relate to that, can’t we?

 

The Courage in Being Vulnerable

Have you ever been disarmed by true, deep vulnerability in someone else? How did it make you feel? If you answer that question honestly, then you will know your own relationship to vulnerability.

Encountering vulnerability in others is disarming because it seems so uncommon. The truth is, it is a human trait that we all share. However, someone who has the self-mastery to embody true vulnerability without giving away their power is usually an inspiration. When things inspire us, it is because they help us to recognize a fundamental truth about ourselves. In this case, it is the reminder of our core identity; that of pure potential.

So, what is vulnerability? It is the choice to show up as your true self even when there is a risk of being hurt or humiliated. This requires the courage to let other people have their own process about what you say or do, and not identify with their response to your situation. For obvious reasons, being vulnerable is very difficult. It is especially hard when you grow up in a small community. Who wants to be the subjective of gossip and criticism? Not one of us.

Then why be vulnerable and risk judgment and pain? Because anyone who has ever put on an act knows that it saps your soul. It may be buried deep, deep down but the discomfort is there. The feeling of being fraudulent that you carry with you when you put up barriers and project untruths is your true Self indicating to you that you are dishonoring her/him. However, when we step into the courage of just telling the truth about our situation, or just admitting our feelings if possible (“I didn’t do my best at that job”, “I felt humiliated and hurt” etc…), there is a relief that vibrates through our system. This is the signal that no matter what the response, we are aligned with our Self.

Another reason to be vulnerable is that it opens up the space for someone else to do so. Strangely, when we take the plunge and reveal our truth it often has the effect of inspiring others to do the same. It may not even be conscious on his/her part but you need to trust that someone in your environment will do or say something which will remind you that they are all-too-human. But you must pay attention. When it happens, honor this person with openness and non-judgment just as you would like to be done for you. This is a clue that you are on the right path.

Sometimes being vulnerable gives us opportunities that we would have missed had we not taken the chance. There is a simple reason for this: when we reveal our gifts as well as our struggles, we create a space for our real needs to be met. How can anyone know that you need help if you pretend that your life is rock solid? If you need to fall apart, then trust your strength enough to do so. It is about trusting the order of life and having a deep, abiding faith in your resilience. If no one ever took the time to tell you, I am going to let you know that you are made of some strong matter.

While I have your attention, let me tell a little secret about myself. Ready? Well, there was a time when I would have run from the opportunity to be so public in my career. I have always been nudged in the direction of addressing groups of people, and whenever I took the chance I always surprised myself. Yet, I would still hesitate if called upon. It was simply fear holding me back; fear of being attacked; fear of failing in front of EVERYBODY. The biggest surprise came when I realized after I put myself out there, that I don’t really care about what people think about what I say. My job is to say it. In this case, my job is to write it. Someone, somewhere needs to hear what I have to say and when they do, I have done my job. So, my point is that vulnerability is part of any true progress.

How do we practice being vulnerable? Paradoxically, you must start from a place of absolute certainty in your power. Being centered is another way of saying that the deepest part of your identity is unshakeable. For those of us who are religious or spiritual, we usually fill this space with knowledge of the God within our self. The next thing, which will seem to contradict the first, is that you must understand that everything in life is subject to change, and let it flow. What is helpful is seeing yourself as the rock within the river. The river being your circumstances, the people, places and things you encounter. You are part of the river, but your core is not affected by its currents. When you know that your essence cannot be swept away by any situation, your self-respect will grow.

I’m going to add something that may seem unrelated, but is actually a key component of vulnerability. That is, laugh at yourself-a lot. I mean, A LOT. When you let self-importance fall away, it is much easier to detach from others’ opinions and reactions. Does that mean that you will never feel the potential pain of being susceptible? Absolutely not. That’s a risk you take, but risk is part of life. Each experience, even the negative ones, is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. I promise you, that practicing real vulnerability will decrease your pain instead of increasing it. You will judge yourself less; you will forgive yourself more; you will surrender more readily and clear a space for the miracles to flood in.

One last thing, if you want a shortcut to experience the type of self-containment that allows you to be in touch with your authentic power, then practice meditation. Learn to still your thoughts and neutralize all the little judgments that inundate your mind regularly. From this awareness, you will feel the freedom to act out of your true nature. Vulnerability is a natural outflow of this deep knowledge. The fear of any lasting damage from anyone else subsides when we anchor our consciousness in stillness. Does this mean that you have to become an all-forgiving, parable-speaking, mantra-chanting guru to be vulnerable? No. Absolutely not. You can start where you are today by just remembering that you owe your life to no fellow human being. It’s that simple. If you need proof, just take the time to observe the sun go about its business and try to recall a time that anything you (or anyone) said, thought or did interfered with the cycle of nature.

It’s an old adage, but it’s true: “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

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11 Comments

  1. EJ
    October 21, 2012

    Ms.Malaika:
    Good Sunday Morning to you. Great wisdom based article.
    Better yet, is the gently way in which you penned (old school:wink:) this recipe for spiritual digestion and psychological health. The singular reason we mope or even scared to be vulnerable is the elusive idea of constnatly striving towards perfection – that can become symptomatic.

    For those who are scared of or burnt by religion it is sound (101) way of getting in touch with the inner person while building character.

    All- forgiving! We better be. In order to medicate hidden pain so we feel our best.

    EJ

    • October 21, 2012

      Vulnerability in all forms is fleshly weakness–the production of our human senses through the mind. It is not a condition we choose–for no one wants to be vulnerable– but the condition comes over us because of our mind, when in its carnal conditon.

      One of the primary conditions of vulnerability is fleshly fear. And fleshly fear is the greatest weapon that Satan hands to us–not to protect ourselves, but to further damage our ability of healing and survival.

      Unless by faith, we enter conscience to find that spiritual force, which will motivate determination in our minds, we will continue with that condition of vulnerability–whatever its form.

      Hence it is not our condition of vulnerability that causes us to go forward, it is our “courage” and “determination” that tells us we have the spiritual Strength, which wiil stand with us through our defence against that vulnerable condition in our minds.

      And so, with humility and trust, we go forward, knowing that we will have victory–that victory is “exaltation” from our lowly state of vulnerability–that kind of exaltation does entertain, “failure” or “pain” and “humiliation”.

  2. Uneven
    October 20, 2012

    Interesting read here.
    I’d like to add by saying that our total wellness encompasses our mental and physical. Whenever one is out of order, it affects the other. The one that is seemingly most times affected is our mental/spiritual b/cus its true nature can be hidden. However like most physical illnesses the spiritual will manifest itself eventually- and sometimes to our humiliation… It’s like living a lie, though it seems so abstract,it could cause irreparable psychological damage which could also be manifested physically. SO I agree with this article very much; Vulnerability: The Truth will always liberate us even at the expense of our own life :wink:

  3. October 20, 2012

    Okay, this is my last one, but it seem as if the more I read this message of this news article the more I find it contradicting to its title–unless the writer has another concept of “courage” and
    “vulnerability” which I do not know about.

    “It was simply fear holding me back; fear of being attacked; fear of failing in front of EVERYBODY”.–News article

    I am reading from the above quote that “fear” was the weapon of the mind here, and that fear was the “factor” to be defeated, and so, “courage” was the weapon or instrument needed to fight away that condition of fear in the mind. I read that this weapon worked out effectively. I can relate to that situation, myself; but I know that I used much more than courage to get the win.

    However, after that quote above, the writer counsels us on: “How to practice vulnerability” Why would I want to practice being “vulnerable” which is an awful sickness in itself all in all?

    Is it good that a man should practice or enchant the “vulnerable though in his mind”, which is the desire for money, which he does not have; and so that thought in his mind causes him to decide how to plan a robbery that would give him that money–except that he could get caught, a situation that could land him in jail, for who knows how long?

    Should that person not want to find “courage” to remove that vulnerable condition from his mind?

    Who wants to practice being weak, helpless, defenceless, exposed, in danger, or in risk of their Life–these are the aspects among others, of being vulnerable. Vulnerability is like a hunger of the flesh that demands fulfillment or feeding, but it is bad to feed the hunger of vulnerability–our only practice should be against vulnerability, as we learn to put our gift of self-control, from Holy spirit, to work.

    I just don’t get it! Me being like a rock in the river is not the “vulnerable me” as suggested in this message, because come what may–I shall not be moved! This means that I have all the strength and courage which I need to fight the omens that should come against me.

    That is why Jesus described Peter’s faith as the Rock upon which He would build His Church because Peter demonstrated the faith, that would not be moved by the most forceful storm ever.

    And so that faith was not “vulnerable”–being susceptible in all forms of the negativity.

  4. October 20, 2012

    “If you need to fall apart, then trust your strength enough to do so. It is about trusting the order of life and having a deep, abiding faith in your resilience”—-News article

    I would not say that I am trusting my strength to “fall apart” that is a negative result I do not need.

    Neither would strength in me allow any form of “falling apart” or “breaking down” in the first place–it is our weakness that causes us to fall apart or break down. Here again I have many experiences to prove that “truth”

    Life in me is meant to be vibrant, and that is the goal in my mind, such as Jesus promised that Life to me, when He said: “I have come that they might have Life and that they might have it more abundantly”.

    This Life of abundance that Jesus speaks about has largely to do with Life in the Spirit. When this Life is in us, there will be little to worry about physical existence, because Life in the Spirit gives God the sole control, and He knows our needs for both spiritual and physical.

    Yes there will be times that I will feel that I am about to fall apart–a condition which we all experience on a daily basis. The reason is because of our nature of imperfection, susceptibility in us is the norm of the day

    But my desire, at the time I am about to fall apart, will not be to sit around and feel sorry for myself–that is the way I would be nurturing a negative seed in my mind–a fruit that will be served to my body with all regrets–good grief!

    But I would allow the counsel of Holy Spirit to show me how to deal with my about to “broken condition” before it happens and to stand with willpower–the influence that shows me how to pick myself up and to move on in Life.

    Faith, trust, humility, obedience, strength and courage, are the instruments which I use on a day to day basis. Holy Spirit tells me which instrument is best needed for the situation I am faced with at the time. And to God be the glory!

  5. October 20, 2012

    “What is vulnerability? It is the choice to show up as your true self even when there is a risk of being hurt or humiliated”. News Article

    Perhaps it is only me, but I am struggling with the answer the question here, because it starts with “it is the choice” I cannot see the reason for the “choice” word, when I compare it with the question: “What is vulnerability”? I am saying that the answer does not directly match the question–but as I alread said, maybe it is me.

    Nonetheless, the way I understand the state of vulnerability from the mind into the body, it is not a state that I, personally, would “choose” to put on display for the same reason; I believe that I would “hurt” or “humiliate” myself–who wants to do that!

    So is the state of “vulnerability” a “choice we follow” like an “influence or instrument” that causes us to come out of our lowly shell–so to speak or act in our defense, showing our “true self”–as it is described above?

    For I am sure that my condition of vulnerability is not my “True Self” but it takes a mind with the ability of discernment to know that truth. I have a lot of stories that will prove my point, but I would be much too long for DNO

    Vulnerability in any form is a lowly state–a futile condition or even a temptation, that comes to deceive our minds–when that mind of ours is in a bad shape.

    As I already mentioned above, a mind which is able to discern will survey the path of that seed, and the willpower of its person, will deal with it efficiently–but not in a way to hurt or humiliate that self. I know what I am saying here!

    I know the experience of being vulnerable–in terms of spiritual and mental weakness, defenceless, or helplessness–there are other terms which do not apply to my experiences–but it was not those experiences, in me, that caused me to come out through the “true me”, for the sake of self redemption or self esteem.

    That is the reason I know how faith in God works, when He is connected to a person by Holy Spirit through conscience.

    And so, based on personal experience and the victory I encountered, I have learned that “vulnerability is a lie of the enemy to the person of my inner self”, and my choice is to deny that “lie” in my mind, as I “speak with rebuke” against that vulnerable production

    By the strength of God, which restores “faith”, the spiritual weapon I use to fight with, I have the choice to “overcome” all sorts of futility
    “the wicked lies” of my mind from the enemy–we all know who he is.

    With the sword of faith, I am able to kill the vulnerable feeling that takes over my body, for that condition is always negative; and so, I cannot use it to give me victory–the victory in Life which is of Love alone, by faith.

    There is nothing good that we can achieve in Life–when we have this Life–if that ability to achieve is not given to us from above. That is the reason Jesus alerted us, when He said about Himself, being here on earth, “I can of Myself do nothing” He also alerted us that “It is the Spirit that gives Life, the flesh profits nothing.”

    “Vulnerability is a condition or a seed of futility, that is fed to the mind from the human senses, for process and production” that fruit is then fed back to our flesh–our outer self.

    We must quickly descern that input, to our minds, that we might fight it off by our Spiritual strength–if we have that strength. And to God be the glory!

  6. ROSEAU VALLEY
    October 20, 2012

    Dear Malaika,

    We are grateful that you have taken the opportunity to be so public in your public career. It has served you and those you touch well. You have done and continue to do a great job in breaking the ceiling of your vulnerability and that of others. Many, who need to hear and learn, are listening and reading and in the process, we are experiencing our own individual metamorphosis and progress.

    As I read your article some practical examples came to mind. Just this week, I enjoyed watching President Obama and Mitt Romney at the annual Al Smith Dinner in New York. In judging the performances, pundits used various categories. One of the highest rated category was “Self-deprecating humor” i.e., the ability of the candidates to be critical of themselves while maintaining their self-respect, dignity and power. This requires the ability to make observations of things that are supposedly negative about one self without causing harm. I found the humor to be a moment to be cherished in intense heat political campaign and beneficial to all.

    I have realized that the more one can engage in self-introspection, self-criticism, self-evaluation and self-deprecation or as you say expose himself to vulnerabilities, this helps break the bond of arrogance, enhances the ability to learn and in the case of the politicians, it helps the ordinary folks to identify with them. Our local politicians in Dominica can learn a lot from this approach in climbing down from their high horses.

    I also reflected on a popular/regular caller to every talk-show on Island, who goes by the name of “BLESSINGS”. Apparently, this gentleman did not have formal educational training but one can tell that he is well-informed, clever, articulate and wise. This is a gentleman who is not afraid to share his views with the public and does not allow his lack of formal education to keep him silent. He often tells of his struggles and desire to learn and to educate himself. Clearly, BLESSINGS has defeated the beast of ignorance that still live in so many.

    Lastly, I reflected on my own vulnerabilities. As young student at school, I never liked reading and writing. I hated English classes. Writing a composition was a nightmare. I always failed. I recall taking the a conscious decision as a teenager to fight and defeat this self-established, negative inner fear with the help of teachers like Mr. Giftus John ( the poet), who assisted students in expressing themselves publicly through poetry and literature. To this day, I battle the fear of expressing my self publicly through public speaking and writing but I have accepted that challenge and I continue to open myself to public criticism as part of the learning process.

    Indeed, the courage of acknowledging one’s vulnerabilities and self-deprecating is difficult. It is also risky and can potentially expose one to humiliation, especially in a small gossip-friendly community like ours. Nevertheless, it has its benefits. It builds character, self-confidence, defeats insecurities and serves as a great source of inspiration to others. It works. Anyone, who can humor himself and expose his vulnerabilities in the process of improving himself and society without giving away his/her power, is powerful and inspirational. Now you know why I write a lot. I enjoy expressing my thoughts in writing for public consumption and criticism, aware that writing is not my forte.

    Great article! Thank you.

    Respectfully
    Roseau valley

    • October 22, 2012

      @Roseau Valley

      As usual, I read all that you wrote here, and I must confess that your views sort of helped me a bit, in comprehending the writer’s concept of “practicing vulnerability”–even if I still do not completely accept that idea.

      My understanding came through your case of explaining the situations of Mr. Barack Obama, and Mr. Mitt Romney. Still for all, here we learn that those two men are well aware of their weakness–vulnerability–even to the point of jesting about those conditions; so in their minds they are in control of their vulnerability.

      Based on experience I know that most people who are experiencing a vulnerable condition, do not even recognize that conflict of their minds as a weakness–the lie of the enemy who comes like a thief to steal, kill, and destroy. Hence, those people allow that condition to overcome them–causing further damage– even to the end of their days in this world.

      For example how do we explain to a person, who is desperate for companionship; because of the loss of his or her lover, through a bad conflict; and to convince him or her that their desperation is a vulnerable conditon–the reason that person is rushing into a new relationship?

      We can’t, because that person so strongly believe that he or she will have the satisfaction that is needed– the only way to get rid of the pain of losing his or her loved one. But will that person’s move be effective? In most cases the pain gets worst.

      So I am seeing that we can practice being vulnerable all we want, but when the true condition overcome us, it will be a different situation altogether. What we need to do is to practice to live Life in Jesus Christ–the state of Life in perfection and completeness. This Life is available to us by choice. “Free Will”

      Like you, most of us have the weakness of speaking to the public–so did I, up to my very mature age. There was no way I could stand up and speak to a group of strangers, even if all of them were lesser advanced than I was–how would I know that in the first place?

      But in June of 1998, I was faced with an almost tragic situation, when I got my Pastor of the Pentecostal Church involved—He and his wife was my only human comfort at that time. My son had attempted suicide, for the same foolish reason–Satan had planted a seed of lie in his mind. Of course he would not know that. It’s a long story.

      Anyway it was a night in Church, when everyone was standing up to give a testimony of Life in Jesus Christ–I had never done that, and I wasn’t about to start on that night. But my Pastor knew that I had something to say, and so, he approached me with a note, that told me to stand up and say something.

      When I read that note from my Pastor, I felt as if I had the greatest size of a rock in my stomach; my throat was blocked with the fear that told me, I would not be able to utter one word, if I stood up to speak.

      Today I know that was another wicked lie from Satan, but Holy Spirit would not allow me to accept it, on that night. And so I humbly stood up and speak my testimony of how Jesus had saved my son’s Life.

      It is a long story still, but that was the night God had planned to remove me from my fear of public speaking; He knew that that was a vulnerable condition, that would probably eat my Life away, He had no intention of allowing that to happen to me, and so, I give Him the glory.

      Today my most frequent venue is the Church house where the things of church mostly takes place. I am the Bible Study teacher to people who are older than I am–my Pastor sits and listens to my teachings and our discussions.

      I have preached to the church a few times–but don’t want to get too involved, that they might tie me down in Toronto–I want to return to our Dominica within the next few years. I have no trouble standing up to speak when I visit our sister church families in other places.

      If I have to speak at other public meetings, I am sure that I will have no trouble because of the blessings of courage, especially since 14 years ago when Holy Spirit started going every where with me. I know that it is Him speaking and even writing through me; for my witing ability is a spiritual gift from Godm but His glory not mine.

      DNO I pray that this is not too long for you, I really cannot see the length unless I post it, but after I have posted, I can do nothing else with it.

      • October 22, 2012

        Actually mine is not longer that that of Roseau Valley, he simply has longer paragraphs than me. Hehehehehehehehe!

      • ROSEAU VALLEY
        October 23, 2012

        Thanks for sharing your experiences. I felt as if we were having a private conversation through DNO.

        I have had a lot of friends who did not achieve a high school much less a university education who are members of the Pentecostal/Adventist movement or related religious denominations and I can testify how pleased I have been to witness the transformation of their ability to speak the word at church and in public.

        Their participation in church has not only improved their religious life but has built their self-confidence in other areas and enhanced their entire social life. They have refused to accept the lies of the devil that they can’t speak the truth intelligently and have overcome all fears in courageously being vulnerable.
        Respectfully
        Roseau Valley

      • October 24, 2012

        Thank you Roseau Valley for responding. I am not with the Pentecostal Church right now–for I must follow the path of which God is leading me.

        I am with a small group in my home building–who are headed by the Mennonite Church, but the church itself, is not Mennonite–we are all people from the West Indies. A few weeks ago, my Pastor called me in the office and he told that I sound evangelist–I told him that is who I am.

        But I have no regret that God caused me to start with the Pentecostal Church when He called me back to Himself 20 years ago.

        Because through them He made me to become the “Evangelist” I am, to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that I might preach it those whom He chooses for me to preach that Good News to. Thank again for your kind response.

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