How Do You View Vulnerability?

How do you perceive a vulnerable person?

Weak?

Fragile?

In need of help?

The dictionary definition is:

  • “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally”
  • (of a person) in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect.
woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It feels, in many ways, like a word with negative connotations.

However, what if vulnerability is an essential part of being human? What if it’s something we all display at times?  Something we all have the capacity to be?

How liberating would it be for us all to admit to feeling vulnerable at times?

I was introduced to the poem below by David Whyte recently.  As it was read aloud to the group I was participating in I felt a tear trickling down my cheek.

Usually I would quickly wipe it away.  Ashamed.  Embarrassed.

Not wanting to appear too emotional.

Too vulnerable.

But as this was a mindfulness session I decided to resist the urge to wipe the tear away and just sit with it.  Take the time to be curious about the feeling of it rolling down my face.  Notice the physical sensations.  Know that ‘thoughts are not facts’ and just because I felt like I was drawing attention to myself, recognise that, in all likelihood, nobody had probably noticed my upset anyway.

I used the experience as a mini mindfulness practice.

VULNERABILITY by David Whyte

Vulnerability…

is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without,

vulnerability is not a choice,

vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding under-current of our natural state.

To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to be something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others.

More seriously, refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilise the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is one of the privileges and the prime conceits of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but a privilege that must be surrendered with the same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers;

powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance,

our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

handwritten Hayley

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

24 Comments

  1. September 29, 2018 / 9:12 am

    What a powerful poem and am understandable reaction. I think you’re right that vulnerability is viewed as a weakness when it’s also something that makes us very human #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 29, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      Thanks Nicola – you are right xx

  2. September 29, 2018 / 9:27 am

    Really interesting poem, and post. I love the line “intimacy of disappearance” Thanks for sharing it #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 29, 2018 / 8:57 pm

      It is a very reflective and philosophical poem – (I think he has Irish heritage). Thank you

  3. September 29, 2018 / 1:58 pm

    I look at vulnerability as being a disabled person, using a wheelchair, I felt vulnerable yesterday when I went out alone for the first time but I also felt a huge sense of achievement when I arrived home safely #satsesh@_karendennis

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 29, 2018 / 9:07 pm

      You should definitely take that sense of achievement Karen. Well done Xx

  4. September 29, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    I think at some point we all feel that. We need to develop compassion for those less than us. #thatsatsesh

  5. September 29, 2018 / 4:34 pm

    I think loss of control is the biggest eat factor when I think of the times I hide my vulnerability X #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 29, 2018 / 8:54 pm

      Xx

  6. September 29, 2018 / 4:48 pm

    Oh I love this post and poem, Hayley. I think everyone is vulnerable at some point in their lives; that’s ok. It’s just some people don’t show it or they take out their vulnerability on everyone else. #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      September 29, 2018 / 8:53 pm

      So true Sophie. Thanks for the lovely comment xx

  7. September 29, 2018 / 10:13 pm

    I think it is part of the English stiff upper lip to not show vulnerability. I think that Dutch people are more likely to be honest about their emotions and show their vulnerability. Great post! 🌈 #POCOLO

    • October 6, 2018 / 8:07 am

      Hayley have you seen Brene Brown’s TED talk the power of vulnerability? I’ve just come across it doing some research into a post I’m writing. It’s fantastic! 🌈

      • onamindfulmummymission
        October 7, 2018 / 10:05 pm

        I am going to watch this this week. Sounds fab xx

  8. September 30, 2018 / 8:29 pm

    #thesatsesh BRAVE…thats what vulnerability is, but it comes with a big fat helping of honesty and most people are allergic to it, not even an epi-pen can help you with that.

    • onamindfulmummymission
      October 2, 2018 / 9:22 pm

      Good point, well put lovely lady xx

  9. moderatemum
    October 1, 2018 / 9:38 am

    I think the ability to be vulnerable is a strength, one that I’m trying to cultivate. I agree that as we get older denying vulnerability makes life a a lot more difficult.

  10. October 1, 2018 / 11:23 am

    I think that taking time to tap into what we are feeling and experiencing at given moments is something that is greatly beneficial for reaching a better understanding of ourselves. #thesatsesh

  11. October 1, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    I love the idea of veiwing vulnerabilitiy as a natural human condition. We all have out vulnerabilities to a lesser or greater extent, which is why as a species we are not designed and generally don’t cope well in isolation. Why we live in communities. Thanks for this post #thesatsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      October 2, 2018 / 9:21 pm

      Yes this is what really grabbed me about the poem. No probs Berni. Take care xx

  12. October 2, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    I hate to show my emotions when I am out of the comfort zone of my home. I feel very vulnerable, weak and embarrassed if I ever breakdown outside my home. I shouldn’t feel this way as emotion is a natural emotion. It’s weird the way our minds work. #satsesh

    • onamindfulmummymission
      October 2, 2018 / 9:20 pm

      I totally understand and quite agree xx

  13. October 8, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    wow this has really spoken to me ! I am having a bit of a mental health wobble currently and people are being so nice and keen to help but I do feel very vulnerable and exposed , Maybe I can take vulnerable and own it as a positive ! #BlogCrush

    • onamindfulmummymission
      October 8, 2018 / 9:24 pm

      Do that Kelly! That is my thoughts exactly XX sending love xx

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