fear of vulnerability

”I need the chance to climb out from the place I was born in.” 

I write this because of a question and comment I got from a friend in my #Trust30 post about overcoming uncertainty. She wrote in her own post about how fear dictates many of our choices and is the cause to so much negativity and destruction. She wondered if it made sense to me, and yes it does. But the comment got me thinking about fear, vulnerability and my relationship to it and I want to share that.

This post’s headline is a line from a movie I watched the other week on TV called ”The story of Liz”. It was a true story about a girl who grew up with addictive parents, her mother was schizophrenic too and eventually both her parents died of aids. She didn’t go to school, ran away all the time, rejected authority and was eventually homeless. And yet she was trapped in the world she lived in. She had an utterly awful childhood. But after her mother died and she had nothing else to lose, she decided to study, to re-define herself and said to the principal when she tried to get accepted into school – “I need the chance to climb out from the place I was born in”. She got the chance at age 15 or 16 and it changed her life. It’s as I wrote in my post about my Tramp vs. Faithfaith isn’t faith until that’s all we hold on to. But it can be excruciatingly hard.

The more fearfulness we feel, the more we diminish and can get trapped in our history and our past, unable to anticipate the future and be in the present. We become hostage of our wounds. Don’t misunderstand me, when we are victims of awful wrongdoings, we often feel powerless. It’s not easy to set healthy self-protective boundaries in those situations. What we usually choose then is to shut down. We disconnect with our Self, so we can ‘endure’ the intolerable situation until it stops. We begin to think of ourselves as worthless – worth less than the perpetrator. So yes I also believe fear is the prime motivation for negative thoughts and patterns.

And here is also what I believe: fear patterns block healing. As an intuitive alarm system it warns of loss, failure, danger and potential wounds. But to live constantly in fear of the unknown and/or with a person that hurts us physically, psychologically and spiritually, disrupts what keeps us grounded and healthy. To feel we are victims of forces that can inevitably destroy us, creates a state of chronic alarm that suppresses our life-force. If we don’t find a way out of the fear, we will move into darkness and stagnation. We become sick and can’t detach ourselves enough from our ‘wounded’ history. We will carry a feeling of being ‘dead’ as my #Trust30 friend wrote about.

I’m not saying that fears are easy to overcome. That all we have to do is to ‘look’ fear in its eyes and then it’s all over. But there is no other way around it than to face it. When our wounds trap us and drag us down the swamp of humiliation and worthlessness, we re-live our wounds and it’s easy to start self blame and believe it’s our fault what happened to us. We constantly repeat the fearful and incomprehensible situation internally. That is a choice, even if it’s an unconscious one, and doesn’t serve our healing and is hard to get out of. Because we want to know ‘why’ it happened. We go over the trauma again and again trying to find answers, trying to understand the inconceivable. And it may never be answered, hence the difficulty to heal and not let the experience define our self – image. What happens to us is out of our control, but how we deal with it isn’t.

So fear drains us, and can suck the life out of us if not dealt with and it demands soul work, courage and stamina to deal with our wounds. When we let fear determine our choices it’s detrimental to our souls, because we don’t trust ourselves, we give away power to outsides factors to run our lives for us. Healthy relationship with fear means, to me, that we allow it be part of our lives, as a friend that lets us know that we are about to lose our power. Lose the power to act, power to choose, power to stand up for what we believe is right, power to live our lives accordingly to our hearts. Dr Mona Lisa Schulz says: “There are five basic emotions or feelings. There are the positive ones that nobody complains about having – love and joy, and the negatives that give us discomfort at times – fear, anger, and sadness.” The negative emotions are as important as the positive. All of them form our emotional energetic makeup and put together as agile as possible, it’s a fantastic compass for life. Without it we wouldn’t experience who we are and can become. We need to learn how to wax on and wax off, as Mr Miyagi says in the movie Karate Kid.

My spiritual mentor and I talk about wounds and vulnerability often. He says that I can’t cover up my heart and say I am strong at the same time. I used to equal vulnerability with weakness and powerlessness. I thought I had to be ‘strong’ and not vulnerable. I feared my vulnerability because then I exposed myself for potential injury and sadness. And the way to deal with that fear was to detach myself from anything close to deep emotions and/or to show them. I always seemed ‘rock-solid’. I was wrong. Vulnerability is the core of love, strength and courage. And yes, it’s connected to fear too. That’s why we to turn back to subordination, candy, alcohol, shopping, minimising ourselves or whatever the flavour of anaesthesia we prefer, so we won’t have to deal with it. Vulnerability is about the ability to be wounded and NOT fear it; to believe that we somehow will come out whole on the other side, that we are strong enough to be ruled by our hearts. It doesn’t have to be comfortable or even positive, but if I am wounded and believe I can heal, I am compassionate as a saint and strong as a soldier, as Caroline Myss (my Sacred Contract teacher) would say.

I come to think about a brilliant TedX talk I listened to last year, where Dr Brené Brown talks about vulnerability. So I post it here, as a closing argument for that fear is part of our intuitive system and that through our hearts we have access to the courage to express who we are – vulnerable and worthy. What we need is the chance to climb out from the place we got stuck in.

In’Lakesh, people – [I am another you and you are another me]


Comments on: "fear of vulnerability" (8)

  1. THANK YOU from the depths of my soul. I am saving this for future reference. You make so much sense. I am reading it in a hurry as I have an appointment. But, rest assured, I will be reading it many times over. I feel so blessed to have met you Michi. Again, many thanks for your wisdom on this topic. It has been a struggle for me. Take care.

    Peace, Nico

    • Nico,
      thank you! I am happy if you find it helpful. Please read it again and maybe we can have further discussions about the subject, but also how one can work with coming out from that place. If not for one self but how to help others.

      The blessing is mutual, Nico. Absolutely.

      In’Lakesh 🙂

      • I would love to have further discussions. Todays prompt has really brought up a lot of pain for me. But, I know I will get through it. I am just not sure I can post my response. Maybe it is too personal. I am filled with uncertainty!!! Thank you for all the help you have given me. You truly have helped me. I am not saying this lightly. Please take care.

        Peace, Nico

  2. Michi – THANK YOU!!!! This is SO powerful!!! and helps me so much – this past year has been a long and tough journey for me of looking deeply into my fear, anger, and sadness to unravel how they are all connected. and the surprise for me was to find that I was nit really “over” stuff I thought I got over a long time ago. I had not let go of what I thought I had released. As you said, toughing up is not the same thing. The ongoing daily challenge for me is to let myself feel this fear, this sadness, this anger when it surfaces – and it’s really vulnerable and scary – but it’s where I know I have to go to heal. Thank you for this brilliant piece. I saw that Brene Brown video last year and watched it over and over. I love what you wrote: “fear is part of our intuitive system and that through our hearts we have access to the courage to express who we are – vulnerable and worthy.” In’Lakesh and please keep sharing! 🙂

    • Hi Mary –
      I feel honored that you feel it helps. I have and am experiencing that strangely and confusing place called Dark Night and when I have started to write about it and connect with others that can relate it helps to clarify it a bit, even if it’s a very individual journey and cannot really be compared. But there are ingredients that I share with another like yourself.

      What I am saying is that you words help me too and for that I am very grateful. It is vulnerable to be in truth, to be in the light. To feel fear when we feel it without hiding it and yet not yield to its threat of darkness, as we can do when we are children – afraid of the bogey man under the bed or in the closet. Unfortunately some people have to deal with real bogey men and that is another type of challenge and fear.

      I believe it’s vital for us to know and understand our fear, not to stay in it, but to understand what triggers it because then we can figure out how to work with that part of ourselves. I think it’s a collaboration with forces or energy within the walking, breathing and talking grail that are a human beings. We are beings not doings. We are work of art that has the extraordinary potential of doing that affect the whole of our living space.

      We struggle so much with what we do all the time. Where we are really lost is within who we are. We know what we do (most of our time anyway) but don’t know who we are. It’s a discovery and unfolding adventure as we live, breathe and bravely take the steps inwards.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

      In’Lakesh 🙂

  3. I resonated with this so much and it is beautifully written, as your work always is. In all sincerity, I hope you are working on a book or a novel or.. something, because you express yourself very eloquently. It’s a pleasure to read.

    • Denise –
      Wow, thank you. It means a lot to me to ‘hear’ you say that.
      I know I am at the crossroad. Will I take the leap and commit to write the books that I have outlined but are hidden in my folders on my computer?

      You have no idea of the impact your words have on me, so I will tell you:
      You (and a few others no one mentioned and no one forgotten) have provided me with the courage, support and faith to take the leap.


      (phew, there I said it and it feels great!)


      • Mary Jane Adams said:

        Michi – I am so glad to hear this! Please do write your book(s)! Your stories, your writing, and your insights are so powerful. They help me, and it seems they help others. I can totally relate to how it can be scary, but please let me offer this: just dive in and start wherever you are – with whatever is there surfacing. Fill up those folders and resist the urge to edit or rewrite. In other words, try to turn off the inner “critic.” You can always go back and revise later. Just some thoughts on this. I’d love to talk to you some more about this. And thanks for your kind words about my poem! 🙂 Glad you liked it. I love your writing. Thanks again for sharing. In’Lakesh!

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