The Power of Vulnerability: 10 Life Lessons.

Via on Mar 3, 2012

Up until the last few years, I had rejected the idea of allowing myself to be vulnerable, if even on a subconscious and cellular level.

From a young age, I had managed to push down any vulnerability or sensitivity I had in me for my own psychic survival. Looking back I realize that I suffered from some deep emotional wounds, wounds that I wouldn’t or couldn’t acknowledge. Was it because I was strong? Was it because I was stubborn? Perhaps I was both. The truth was, I no longer knew.  Somewhere along the road to survival, the difference between the two had begun to blur.

I refused to be hurt. I refused it with such a vengeance; I probably hurt myself more in the process. I spent what felt like an eternity building emotional brick walls in hopes that they would protect my heart. Yes, I had it all figured out. Through the cunning and creative placement of walls, I would never have to feel pain again. Absence of pain equaled happiness.

You can imagine this was the start of a long, frustrating, and disappointing journey which ultimately landed me into one of the most painful life situations ever. There’s nothing like a near death experience, or three, to slow you down. On my path to healing, I came across this river of emotions flowing through me. Further along on the path, I found a wall I had built—a dam to the river. It was now an ocean, and I didn’t know how to swim, literally and figuratively. I went out in search of tools to help me take this wall down without causing further damage to my body or psyche.

It wasn’t long before I realized just how sensitive I really was. This sensitivity, or vulnerability, that I had denied myself all these years was now coming back to haunt me in the form of physical illness and anxiety disorder. As I allowed this side of me to emerge, it turns out that there was no way to avoid the pain associated with it.  I felt so much! It overwhelmed me at times; the emotions and feelings were like a rush. Feeling like I had finally taken my first deep breath, I exhaled and thought “Damn! This stinks!”  “This” referring to everything I found myself to be doing at the time.

All of a sudden I was unhappy with my line of work. Many of my relationships and friendships were beginning to feel less satisfying. This feeling of discontent followed me around all day. In short, I was depressed. I also had no idea how I was supposed to go about changing everything in my life, but I knew that there had to be changes.  I also knew, though, that my life at that time was a house of cards, every card depended on the other. Taking away any one card would bring the whole house down.

And so it was. My house of cards and all my walls came crashing down and I had to start over. Just as I would catch myself starting to build up my house of cards again, I’d stop.

I’d remind myself of some of the lessons I have learned on this journey:

  1.  Honor yourself first and above all. You are no good to anyone if you are no good to yourself.
  2. You are the reason why you are not happy with your life. Period. Your life is based on a series of your own choices, no one else’s. You are not a victim; you are an empowered creator.
  3. The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing, over and over and expecting a different outcome.” If you want your life to be different, make different choices.
  4.  If you want to attract “better things” into your life, work on becoming a better person. You attract what you are.
  5.  There is a delicate balance to the Universe. It always provides everything you need. Note that “need” and “want” are two very different things.
  6.  Be kind, but don’t be a pushover. If it doesn’t feel true for you, chances are, it’s not. Then refer to lesson #1.
  7. Your body is your vessel and a gift; it doesn’t deserve your abuse. There is a fine line between indulging a desire, and depending on it.
  8. Forgive, forgive, forgive, but don’t forget. Start with yourself first.
  9. Choose friends who share your enthusiasm for life and appreciate your strengths and weaknesses.Which brings me to one of my most important lessons…
  10. Our strength lies in our vulnerability and our willingness to keep our hearts open in spite of all the painful blows that life throws at us. By allowing your heart to remain open you will not only learn faster and heal faster, but all those delicate and beautiful parts of yourself will begin to flourish.

Sensitivity is not a weakness. It could perhaps be your greatest unrealized strength. In my case, allowing myself to be vulnerable and honoring my sensitivity allowed me to start coming out of hibernation.

“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.”

~ Anais Nin

Live life fully, in all its joy, in all its pain and in all its glory.

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta.

 

About Lubna

Lubna was born in the US to Palestinian immigrants. She is the founder of House of Shakti Jewelry. All of their jewelry and malas are designed for healing and empowerment, and handmade with love in the USA. Through her life and travels to the Middle East and India, Lubna saw first-hand much injustice, especially towards women. She felt there was a need to bridge the gap between the East and West so that women could unite and learn from each other to create positive change in their lives. Lubna currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. You can read more of her musings at Shakti Shares the Love and on Twitter: @HouseOfShakti. You can also find her on Facebook: facebook.com/HouseOfShakti facebook.com/shaktisalah

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43 Responses to “The Power of Vulnerability: 10 Life Lessons.”

  1. catnipkiss says:

    Vulnerability can be a strength rather than a weakness. As an artist, you feel more, and you NEED to, to express your creativity! good luck on this path. Alexa M.

  2. Loved reading this. So true.

  3. oz_ says:

    Terrific post – vulnerability is the doorway to human connection. We often kick it shut when we're young – an adaptive response, our unconscious attempt to protect ourselves. Life often uses 'shock treatment' to nudge us, reminding us that we do have the choice to open it again, consciously. Thanks for sharing your journey, and the lessons learned therefrom.

    More on the subject of vulnerability, this is resonant, powerful:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/brene_brown_on_v

    • Thank you Oz_ . It's so true that many of us due kick that door shut. I have actually never come across this TED talk before but am just about to watch it. Thank you for referring it to me.

      Blessings,

      Lubna

    • GeoffOfOz says:

      Must say this talk is one of my most important touchstones for my journey of healing. Thank you for letting more people know and spreading the word on the power of vulnerability :)

      With love, gratitude and healing

  4. Hayley says:

    Haha oz_! I was just about to post the same video! That video set my life in motion again.
    This was an amazing post, and I so completely relate to it. Always look Man in the eye. Never bow your head in false, learned deference for anyone. You, and only you, matter in your life.

    • Thanks Hayley. I just finished watching the video for the first time. Really great. If I had known I would have included it in the piece. So happy to see such great work being done out there.

      Much Love,

      Lubna

  5. Valerie Carruthers ValCarruthers says:

    Wonderful article, Lubna. Posted to Spirituality Popular Lately.

  6. Powerful and absolutely beautiful. Thanks for this Lubna, I'd love to see more of it on the 'net and in our culture.

  7. Rocio Pozo says:

    muy verdadero y muy hermoso!

  8. I loved your article, but even more I loved your bio :) I visit LA quite a bit, live in India, and hope to meet up with you one day, Lubna…let's connect :)

    Braja Sorensen
    Lost & Found in India
    Editor, Elephant Spirituality
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  9. Jenn says:

    I can really relate to your story of putting up walls and survival then having to take those walls down to REALLY live. I was born into an abusive family and it only got more traumatic from there. I'm still working on letting myself be vulnerable and letting others in. thank you

    • Hello Jenn. I completely understand what you say as I have lived it. I will say though that the abuse only continues the more you close yourself off. You must break the cycle and it seems like you are on that path. I wish you the best of luck and send you lots of love. It is a tough path to travel at times but well worth it.

      Many Blessings,

      Lubna

  10. [...] Life gets complicated. It wears us down. It hurts. But it isn’t being hardened by it that gets us through it. It isn’t being jaded that allows us to survive the hard parts. It’s staying soft. It’s being broken open by it and staying open, no matter what. It’s staring at what comes at us—unblinking—and staying still in our softness even when it hurts. [...]

  11. [...] Lubna Salah, Courtesy of The Elephant Journal. Be Sociable, Share! TweetRelated posts:The Three Essentials of OptimismCreating a [...]

  12. April says:

    Your life is NOT always based on a series of your own choices,if it was then we would be in control of our own environment and were not in control of others. Even our own minds. Some minds are physically effected from PTSD, depression, bi polar and if undiagnosed or untreated will effect choices, especially when predators are among the supports that steer us. We have fight or flight behaviors, impulsive reactions and learned tools for survival so when were attacked and the shock sets in this is not a choice, some people freeze… the mind shuts down. How we react after a trauma is all different,and has many layers, there is no generic formula that fits all. Some are a victim; they are not empowered when raped emotionally or physically, the body (which includes the physical mind)needs to heel from the wounds first. Being a victim doesn’t have to last forever but It Like cancer, each is unique in treatment and for some the journey has remission wile for others instant shut down. We all have different ways to fight the blows. like peace,there are many ways to fight for peace, our weapons can be with words or guns so no one way is right for another and that is OK. It is OK to open your hearts when the heart was always closed, but for some they need to close there heart when it was always open to grow and be whole within. Don’t forgive because your told to, forgive when your ready, whole and it is safe.

  13. mary harris says:

    encouraging reading :) god is lov nad i believe in thhe greater power of that love ! Gos can transform and rescure us, even from ourselves … eveerlastinfg long term remedy is the key to true redemption from ones own self <3

  14. [...] I’ve decided that by opening up about more of my past, my voice can contribute to the fight to make a difference in the [...]

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  16. [...] the truth is honest and exposed and personal. Because it illuminates us and makes us vulnerable. Vulnerability, while undeniably, extraordinarily beautiful, often seems just too risky. Once someone has seen you emotionally naked, there is no going [...]

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  18. anonymous says:

    Excellent point: "If you want to attract “better things” into your life, work on becoming a better person. You attract what you are."

  19. flynnsamya says:

    Thank you for this beautiful article on vulnerability and your story! Indeed, how true it is that vulnerability can show us how to help others, how to be strong, and how to connect.

  20. [...] and then here’s where you take it to the next level: you share it with your beloved. You allow vulnerability to come into the equation. You stand naked in all your glory, everything that makes you, you. Not [...]

  21. [...] Or more specifically, I appreciate those who are so willing to make themselves vulnerable. Since I completed my Masters at Naropa University, I have had my eyes opened to how often this happens. Individuals take the opportunity to dive deep into their own sea of personal issues and struggles. We each have our own sea. [...]

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  26. Madison Canary says:

    Really powerful and articulate article, Lubna. I have a feeling we both went through a similar process of breaking down to come to a new, more truthful and powerful, place. Thank you for sharing yours!

  27. [...] ago, I saw the damage it does when we build emotional walls, and I realized that we could continue indefinitely to be wall-builders as there is no end to what [...]

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