At one point in our lives the accumulated effect of being hurt more than a few times and on various ways gives us the notion that we must and should develop a hard outer shell in order to survive. As a stopgap measure, the shell has its functions but it may work so well that we choose to indentify with it more permanently.

This is where we start to run into problems because all sorts of facades require a certain amount of energy for upkeep and we might take care of our shell so much that it crystallizes and we start believing that this is how we are and this is how we should be because we feel safe behind our hard masks.

We start believing that being detached and unaffected and being ready to walk away from anything which causes us discomfort is a form of strength and it feels safe because we save ourselves the debilitating heartache that caring too much causes but like all artificial structures, it can only last up until a certain point before it starts requiring more for its upkeep and we start wondering whether we are missing out on life because even if we escape the pain, we feel that something is missing.

Eventually we have to find the courage within us to crawl out of our longstanding defensive mechanisms and allow ourselves to be vulnerable within reason. We should have learned by now that being recklessly vulnerable does not yield good results and being forcibly invulnerable causes stress as well.

Taking the moderate approach to being vulnerable means taking the risk of being hurt but respecting the other with their decisions and comprehending that all we can do is relay our thoughts and allowing them to make their decisions and relay their thoughts in return if they choose to do so. If the response is not what we hope it would be, we must know how to cut our losses gracefully without necessarily burning our bridges although it might require closing the door temporarily as we do what we need to do to heal or come into grips with the situation.

We must not fall back into the behavior we had been avoiding prior to shedding the notion of invulnerability. Being needlessly and irresponsibly emotional is always to our detriment. And being unable to accept the choice of the other person when they choose to not acquiesce to what we would like is unacceptable because it reflects a certain degree of narcissism within us and the selfish notion that others should abide by our preferences.

Having the courage to be vulnerable is being able to relay our views honestly and being able to respect the other when their answer is not what we expected or is contrary to the answer we were looking for; and yet, being able to live through it without adopting the shell for another long period of time and pretending that we were not hurt.

We need the courage to acknowledge that when things don’t go according to our plan, it is not the end of the world and we can still walk forward without needing to hide our pain, mask our scars, or project an angry image that we never cared what they thought in the first place.

We need the courage to recognize the hurt and the pain and accept that we have bravely expressed our views and others have done so too and it need not be viewed as a personal attack. This way, we would be able to feel all the emotions resulting from the attempt, and be able to dust ourselves off and allow ourselves to have the courage to be vulnerable again another day.

(c) Niconica 2013

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