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Courage, Resilience and Vulnerability
Or as Aaron Keener says, "these are the performative contradictions of our times."
A lot of things today are regarded as bravery and courage. I’m not seeing courage or bravery. What is it to be brave?
If you *feel* vulnerable when you are not, that's like feeling an irrational fear. If you can overcome the *feeling* of vulnerability and be open with people whom you are perfectly safe, even though we call that "being vulnerable with people," it's not. It's demonstrating courage and resilience with people. It's feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
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That’s all well and good, that one invulnerable person becomes courageous.
However, if you ARE truly vulnerable, more than just a feeling, that is a very bad thing. It's terrible. I hear people saying “my vulnerability is my strength.” No, it’s not. You are a walking, talking, breathing, eating and poorly sleeping series of unfortunate events. Where is the superpower in that?
In this case, resilience needs to be addressed, and one must re-examine relationships in such a way as to shore up those vulnerabilities. Namely or firstly, start with the relationship you have with yourself.
We should always be striving for resilience and invulnerability, courage and hope.
I think what society needs more right now than coddling about shame or blame around their overvalued vulnerability, is a healthy dose of discipline.
I'm going to lay this out for you.
You may share something personal with someone with the hope that they will receive it with an open heart-but they don't.
If you were truly vulnerable, this would make you worse for the wear. It could negatively impact your energy, mood, productivity and overall well being. It wasn’t courageous for you to share. It wasn’t hopeful. It was foolish.
However, if you are resilient, the way someone handled receiving your personal information reflects in your mind entirely on them and better informs you about what kind of relationship that person is capable of having with you in the future for the most part. I’m not suggesting you blame them. That’s not it. Invulnerable people won't turn to blame or anger. If you are resilient, it will not affect your mood, performance, energy or well being. There would be nothing to be blamed for or be angry about.
Resilience is feeling better knowing you acted in good faith towards a friend you trusted up to that point, but you also know they aren't trustworthy for the future. It might also teach you to be a better judge of character, of whom to place one's hopes, going forward.
But you don’t just chose one day to feel better about vulnerability. It’s not like you just say to yourself, “get over it, bucko” and so you just magically do.
Even if you are vulnerable, there may be a benefit and strength to responding to a test of your vulnerability by reassessing your relationships, by learning you need to become a better judge of character after such a vulnerability in oneself has been exploited.
But, you might create more vulnerability by perpetuating this same behavior over and over, perpetually believing you are a victim in some way of other people whom you chose to "be vulnerable with” or that the only way to learn whom is safe is in testing people by putting yourself in an unsafe position.
My suggestion is to stop BEING vulnerable with people. That's like advertising on TV to the public where you live and that you leave your doors unlocked every night when you go to sleep. It's totally reckless behavior. It's behavior that is worthy of shame.
Your vulnerabilities are your business and yours alone. Don't put that on other people. Don't test other people by giving them a stick and asking them to poke your wound to see if it still hurts and then getting mad that they did what you asked them to.
There is a path from vulnerability to resilience, but it does not require courage.
If you are truly in a vulnerable situation or position, you don’t need courage. It’s not the people around you who need to be tested. What needs addressed is your own hemorrhaging and needing to close off the gash before asking people to hug you and pat you on the back.
Vulnerability requires discipline, not courage.
Work on resilience.
Work daily on being a safe person for yourself to talk to. Tend to your wounds. Learn to care for and dress yourself in healthy, loving ways (literally and figuratively). Then, once you get some mastery in that, not in oversharing with others or trying to help or fix others from a vulnerable standing, figure out whom you feel demonstrates those same qualities that are making you a great friend to yourself.
Examine what makes you a safe person for others to share with.
10 out of 10 times, it’s not your desperation to get close to people that makes you an understanding, loving, caring, empathetic, compassionate (fill in the virtue) person. It’s not your own propensity for being wounded that makes you a good healer.
I once heard that over centuries, shamans tested the plant medicines. They drank the poisons, and they took notes. Many died, leaving their protégés to learn from their mistakes and miscalculations to evolve safe doses for the villagers to heal from. While one may say that those who died advanced medicine, I say nay. It’s the scribes, those that learned and lived the longest, noting long before death with a deep sense of self knowing, that they were in harm’s way going further without needlessly dying to prove it, that were of greater benefit to humanity as a whole.
This is what makes you a value to others. It’s your ability to have foresight and see dangers long before they become an issue for you, then out of self love, avoiding them at all costs. You need to be able to live to tell the tale. This is why people would come to you for insight. They can’t counsel with you if you’re dead. In that case, all you are is a cautionary tale.
You have to, through self-discipline, develop it within yourself first.
Once our resilience is developed, then we can be there for others. Only then too, will we have developed the skill set to know (not guess, not test out) whom is living a life with strong skills of resilience.
At this point, we may at first feel vulnerable sharing with these people. If all of our shares with others have been previously from a place of vulnerability, we may still feel the vulnerability regardless of knowing we are talking to a trustworthy, master of resilience. This is that irrational fear I talked about in the beginning. This is where courage comes in. Once you learn to trust your own skills, then it takes courage to offer that level of trust to others in whom we see resilience.
We currently live in a society wherein the social capital is distributed disproportionately toward weakness and vulnerability. It's a complete waste of capitol. Like pouring water in a colander for emergency storage.
If we want to step out of that matrix, we have to stop championing self-destructive mindsets and behavior. We have to become personally responsible for our vulnerabilities and through discipline, learn to build up our strength and resilience first. Once we become masters in resilience, then we can practice courage.
Get off the sidelines and vote with your dollars!