Mindfulness is a wonderful and beneficial practice. Today, my guest is one of the best coaches in the field. Read his words and take notes…
Thank you very much for being part of our #VulneRevolution series!
We want to explore the topic of vulnerability openly and honestly. No judgement or innuendo should follow your feedback, therefore please do your best to answer the questions below honestly, as your help may mean the world to someone else.
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Short Bio: Before answering the questions below, please take a moment to reflect upon the visibility you will have on the platform and if you would like us to use your true identity (preferably) or replace your name with initials or even a name at your convenience.
1. What is your interpretation of vulnerability?
Vulnerability, by my interpretation at least, is a misnomer. It is opening ourselves up to being hurt etc. But, the way we view this now in social media terms especially, is more akin to a strength. We are not opening ourselves up to new hurts, more, we are being brave and open in sharing our past struggles. Ones we have overcome, or ones we are facing now.
It’s taking on a new meaning in social media, and language; of course, is evolutionary in nature. So this new meaning for vulnerability is, in essence, being humble, brave, sharing our experiences, supporting each other.
2. Can you tell us about a time when you were vulnerable in the workplace?
Truthfully? No. I was not “vulnerable” when in the traditional workplace. I was a grafter, I just “got on with it”. Yeah, that old phrase – push, push, push!
Yes, a strong work ethic can be very helpful indeed! But if people crossed me, especially management… I was not big on vulnerability…(!) I was bigger on speaking my mind, usually powered by anxiety, which meant very little control over what I spoke in real terms.
That went well then…
Although on saying that, coming across as a live wire didn’t always end up badly; and I realize that sometimes you need to be resolute and stand your ground. The problem is, I tended to have little conscious control of my reactions.
3. What happened?
4. Do you regret it?
Although it’s not about being vulnerable, yes, I do regret not having more conscious control of my reactions.
“I was vulnerable to my reactions, rather than being vulnerable from awareness. “
That’s the negative side of vulnerability, the unhealthy side.
Don’t get me wrong, I would stand by a lot of WHY I was angry, and I am not going to condone the actions of others, but neither am I going to condone my own reactions. I try, on reflection, to understand the relationship between both. And how the other person’s vulnerability to their OWN fears/patterns contributed to the situation.
That’s how you come to understand and how you can use empathy, in a more practical sense, rather than through consciousness itself and deeper awareness.
Even though it’s not the typical answer in regards to “vulnerability”, I hope the contrast here can help others to understand the nuances of how – like all things – understanding and reflection can serve you moving forward.
5. Nowadays, do you consider that being true to yourself and others is a sign of weakness/ vulnerability or strength? And why?
It’s a strength, there is no question about this; and what’s also important, is to understand what is being the true “you”, and what is simply “experience”. Are they one and the same? No. Certainly not. Especially with the question being measured by the definitions of “vulnerability”.
Sometimes, we can become identified with “being” the negative experience… “I feel xyz, this is me” – but that’s a dangerous place to be. Not one that I can encourage.
“I think it’s a good idea to ask ourselves, why are we sharing this, is this truly our true self, or just simply experience being personified?”
Are we sharing our “self” to maintain it, to seek sympathy for our being this way/that way? Or are we sharing, so that we may improve, become healthier of mind, show others it’s OK to talk and be open about it, to encourage one another, be supportive (show empathy etc.). The latter is healthy, the former simply further perpetuates the pain.
We GIVE those experiences identity and further power in over lives.
- What is our true self?
- What is our true nature?
- And are we sharing that aspect, or just simply a combination of experiences that have become part of our external “identity”?
They are deep questions… ones that you will not truly share your true “self” until you have addressed it; and, at that point, it’s not just a strength for you, it’s a strength for any person you come into contact with – who will FEEL and SENSE the presence that you bring. It will heighten your empathy, in a deeper feeling sense, rather than a logical sense.
CRITICAL POINT: THE MENTAL HEALTH ASPECT
Of course, I am writing this from my own perspective of now – with a greater, and deeper understanding. What is CRITICAL? If you believe you’re suffering from any kind of Mental Health issue, this isn’t the time to be “vulnerable”. As such, it is the time to seek help, because you are – quite probably – ALREADY vulnerable, but in a sense that you will not have as much control of which vulnerabilities are exposed. GET HELP! Do not allow ego, or fear, or anything to stop you getting help – either yourself, from therapists, coaches etc, (no one path is right for all).
You see, when I was in the grip of anxiety – I already WAS vulnerable!! Vulnerable to mistakes, vulnerable to my temper (as were others, but not physically I must stress!), vulnerable to stress, vulnerable to making extraordinarily poor judgments & decisions; and vulnerable to OTHERS’ actions, because I seldom had control of my own reactions.
“My vulnerability now is sharing that – but back then? I didn’t even know it!”
It’s becoming a bit trendy to be vulnerable. That, to me, is dangerous; because, for me there’s a HUGE difference between choosing to be – consciously – and using it to empower, share, empathize etc – and the vulnerability that unaided mental health issues can create. It’s not cool to have that as a badge of honor.
Become healthy first; then, be vulnerable from a position of strength, or – at very least – conscious awareness. Even if it’s just the beginning of the journey to recovery.
I don’t share what I do so that people stay locked in a mental prison. I share it in hopes they will escape it! Or, at leas,t find motivation enough to try…
So I’ll say this again: if you think you are struggling with Mental Health, DO NOT get trapped in it; and think, somehow, that this vulnerable revolution makes it a cool thing to have now (rather than a stigma) or something to identify AS – that is profoundly unhealthy for your mind!
SEEK OUT HELP!
Ask those who are sharing THEIR vulnerability in respect to how they cope, strategize, & support themselves THROUGH struggles.
It is important to differentiate this, in my opinion; otherwise, besides being vulnerable, we are all simply diving into each other’s misery ponds and going for a swim in a swamp of negative emotions – sometimes even holding each other in it! It’s surprisingly easily done.
“Rather than explaining what that swamp is, better help each other navigate a way OUT of it.”
Critical distinction !!!
6. How did your experience with vulnerability influence your current state of mind? Would you recommend others to talk about it?
My vulnerability began with my understanding that the stress and reactive nature of my experience was based on anxiety – the old “fight or flight” mechanism – that I’d always worn as a “creative temperament” moniker; and also realizing that I was allowing others to define me.
Making peace with this wasn’t easy… AT ALL. I’m not entirely sure I’ve fully made peace with it, still. Wounds/guilt can run deep. But this is a part of my being more vulnerable and how it influences my behavior now; in terms of my sharing (none of us are ever perfect) acceptance of this is crucial, without making it an excuse for us to exercise poor judgment.
It is also knowing exactly what anxiety etc is, how it works, what sets it off and, generally speaking, its delusional nature. Having to climb down from my ego perch, accept (after my internal protestations) that I wasn’t, in fact, just a bit hot-tempered and my mind wasn’t behaving particularly well…
“I had to become vulnerable to allow that realization to become a new direction.”
So it has almost ENTIRELY changed how I view Mental Health & Self-Realization.
So, my vulnerability – in terms of sharing (and, often misunderstood) – is the elucidating of my own inner reflections, so others can see what can happen, how I approach it, and how I view a transition from material/thought delusion, into a more peaceful & consciousness centered space of equilibrium. I am definitely an advocate of talking about it!
Reading this from me may shock some, especially given my occasional tendency to, well… “get in the trenches”; say “well”, say “ha-ha”!!
7. If you can sum up in 1 word how you feel about your experience with vulnerability what would it be?
To finish up this interview, firstly I want to thank you Louise & Andrada for starting this series, because – as we share our views/experiences and opinions – we can help each other develop stronger mental resilience. And, from everything I have observed, those people who are vulnerable in the context of this interview, have become some of the strongest people I have ever spoken to.
It’s simple – They had to be.
They had to make the choice, just as I did, to BE stronger; not externally – to others, not a facade, but internally – with depth and structure.
They had to:
a) FIRST AND FOREMOST: Be open and vulnerable to themselves!
b) Fully (or at least, partially) understand the nature of their struggles and suffering.
c) ACCEPT IT! (A crucial stage, seldom mentioned!)
d) Begin to overcome it!
e) Realize that not everyone will comprehend it, yet share their story anyway.
They have traversed those struggles, those doubts, those fears, so that vulnerability is now being expressed with fortitude. It doesn’t mean they’ve all gone away. It doesn’t mean they won’t come back. Vulnerability, in this context, is brave and courageous.
“Remember, being brave is not the absence of fear – it’s fearing and doing it anyway!”
So I express my foremost gratitude to all those stepping up right now, and helping heal the mental health of our world!
Richard C. Pryor can be reached via his LinkedIn profile.
You can contact/ follow Louise Mccauley and Andrada Anitei at any given moment, by following the links below:
*The photos used in this article were provided by the rightful owner, with clear consent. Using them without prior agreement may be object of the copyright law. All rights reserved to Richard C. Pryor*