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How do we embrace vulnerability?

We are all vulnerable there is no question about that, we don’t need to learn how to become vulnerable, but on the contrary we just need to stop suppressing it.
We have to let it out, to embrace it. I see vulnerability as being a very strong and beautiful flower that tries to flourish inside us, but we wont let it live, we are constantly throwing cement and rocks on it, hoping that it won’t come out, we don’t want it …we are suppressing it!

While on the contrary we need to embrace this flower, this feeling, to accept that it’s perfectly ok to feel shame, to feel hurt, to feel disappointed, etc.
You might ask yourself, how can I embrace this feeling if it’s causing me pain, why do I have to allow myself being hurt?
Because if you trust yourself, if you are confident enough that you will raise up again when you fall, then you will not be so scarred to fall.
And here is my personal judgment, that if you build your confidence, if you trust yourself you will not be afraid to be vulnerable and you will accept this feeling easier.

And when you accept it you might see that, you will enjoy your life better, your relationships, your friendships, and that you will not be afraid to expose yourself, to be vulnerable. You will not be afraid to say I love you first, you will not be afraid to speak to the girl you like, you will not be afraid to ask your boss for a promotion, because you will trust yourself that you will handle any situation and that you will learn something from any experience, good or bad. In any situation, there is something positive and negative; you just need to see them both, not just the negative side. As you accept the concept of day and night, you might accept the concept of positive and negative feelings. They are both useful; we just need to find the proper use of it.

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    Jun 3 2011: I see vulnerability as an ingredient of love. We cannot fully love without being vulnerable at some time. It seems that embracing vulnerability for it’s own sake could potentially take us in a wide range of directions, some of which could be destructive. (Embracing vulnerability when confronted with a sociopath would not likely be very helpful to either)

    Embracing love requires acceptance of risk along with the recognition that it is worth it. Love is an ongoing quest. In order to fully love another our love must eventually expand to the entire world because trying to put boundaries on love starts to feed ego and self-interest, which are the opposite of love. Love is a continuing challenge that requires strength and courage as well as understanding and empathy.

    Love is a decision, a commitment, a transcendence of self. It is an active process that requires that we be grounded and clear. Vulnerability seems more like a passive condition - a receptivity that does not necessarily filter out potential negative influences.

    When we embrace love, we will feel vulnerable at times but as our capacity for love deepens, we recognize that fear, hurt, loneliness, abandonment, and rejection are part of the package of opening our hearts. We also realize that these emotions are temporarily very painful, but that working through that pain actually deepens our capacity for love. Embracing love makes vulnerability less of a risk because we realize that our love will deepen when there is a response to opening our heart and that our capacity for love will also deepen when we are rejected as we work through the pain. We actually become less vulnerable as our capacity for love grows.
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      Jun 4 2011: That is why i say it is Love we must truly learn to embrace and not vulnerability.

      The brain can emit to forms of feelings ; Love and Fear, when vulnerability is recognize as a part of Love, it's not truly Love that leads the thought but Fear. It's hard to understand and even harder to do.
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      Jun 7 2011: @Bob, how do you choose to whom to give your love and whom to ignore?
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        Jun 9 2011: There is no choice.

        You Love those you don't Fear and you Fear those you don't Love.
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          Jun 10 2011: Very well said, Maxine. Sustained fear centers our focus on ourselves which stops our heart from opening.

          Fear is a natural emotion that will arise in response to our perceptions of a wide range of situations. To the extent that we are in balance, we can choose to clarify the nature of the risk and how we will respond to it. Risk is part of love and love recognizes that it is worth it. We have a choice to feed fear or feed love.
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        Jun 10 2011: Debra asked "how do you choose to whom to give your love and whom to ignore?"

        I believe love is our essential nature and that it grows and deepens if we keep obstacles out of the way. Putting limits on love creates an obstacle. Loving family and friends can be self-centered and therefore only an illusion of love. True love, by its nature, opens us to all.

        The definition of love that makes the most sense to me is a commitment to the fulfillment of the best interests and potential of another person. Realistically, we can only take this to a very deep level with one or a very few people. However, excluding others from our love by ignoring the effects of our actions on the fulfillment of their potential closes our hearts and limits our capacity to love.

        The only way to truly love another is to love everyone.
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          Jun 10 2011: Its nice to hear you say that.
        • Jun 15 2011: Very nicely said. Love is a selfless act? It's true that the more you give love to others the more love you have within your heart. Love nourishes the heart. The heart's food is love.
    • Jun 15 2011: I really enjoyed your comments Bob, as much as your videos. Well I think you gave us all the essence in your first line “vulnerability is an ingredient of love” and as most of us here will agree that love is the essence of life, we’ll keep this ingredient and use it wisely…
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      Jun 16 2011: Right on..."Vulnerability" is a wonderful place to be!
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    Jun 7 2011: Cornelia, I believe in the power of love like Bob and Maxime stated. I think this is also what you said as a pre-requisite in order to handle vulnerability otherwise we fall into hurt helplessness that Debra mentions.

    It is hard to give love when we don't first love ourselves. I believe we can trust ourselves and build our confidence first by separating our core identity as someone of great worth (conscious human being or our belief as God's children), great intellect and good will and our external identities (the way we look, career or skills and reputation). We recognize and affirm our own core nature and that of others - a deep respect and deep love. As we move forward in our relationships, we recognize, we appreciate, we encourage our accomplishment and the accomplishment of others.

    We give real love as Bod said, a love that is given without conditions and the only reason is we want the other person to be happy. Once we give love with conditions, it's not real love, it's transactional, there is no net worth and our expectations of receiving something causes frustrations and anger. The love wanes once the condition for giving and receiving love is gone.

    I believe our heart is meant to love and our love is meant to make others happy. When our hearts are loving and we are deeply happy, our minds are also inspired and it all cause us to trust and hope more. When we misuse our heart and our love, we break the very resource of our happiness, it brings out our weaknesses.

    The power of our loving energized hearts is what I believe will transform our world. Like Bob have noted, our love needs to expand because our hearts is not meant to be selfish.,
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      Jun 12 2011: Joe wrote: "It is hard to give love when we don't first love ourselves. I believe we can trust ourselves and build our confidence first by separating our core identity as someone of great worth (conscious human being or our belief as God's children), great intellect and good will and our external identities (the way we look, career or skills and reputation). We recognize and affirm our own core nature and that of others"

      Loving ourselves is simply a matter of seeing ourselves clearly. Loving involves seeing them clearly. When we put fear into perspective and get ego out of the way, we are able to see more clearly.
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    Jun 21 2011: We can embrace vulnerability by looking at several great strategies from the past. One theme comes back in these traditions: vulnerability is an openness of the senses, and a readiness to accept the unexpected.

    1. Religion: Many important religions have the notion of "fragility" or "vulnerability" at their core. Is there a better example than Christianity itself? Christ who undergoes infinite suffering at the hands of the powerful, and whose tortured body becomes the very locus of the vulnerability of humanity as a whole. Idem with Buddhism: to become a Buddha you will suffer infinitely, and expose your desires to so much battering, that they are no longer desires. Then comes elightnment, which could be re-interpreted (coarsely) as the attainment of total vulnerability and fragility. The list goes on.
    With the advent of protestantism, and our capitalist, technocratic, liberal vision of the world, this notion has lost importance, as man had to become a "master" of himself and the actions around him. Our rational, modern view of life has indeed neglected the notion of fragility which permeated our world for centuries.

    2. Art: most of the great artworks of history are characterised by a very important element, namely that something is "broken". Van Gogh's sunflowers are, so to speak, vulnerable, battered flowers - which is why they're so superb.

    3. Philosophy: fascinating thinkers found vulnerability to be a key of their work. Think of Nietzsche's "amor fati" - love of our fate, love of that which we can't control. Freud has pinpointed the fractures in our subconscious, which guide our desires. Postmodernism's based on one great "perhaps", a fundamental doubt, a constant lack of certainty, an incapacity to put the world in definite categories - a certain vulnerability in our vision of the world.

    4. Even politics: think of Gandhi's strategy of vulnerability - the hunger strike, nonviolence. By choosing to become the most vulnerable, he became the most powerful
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    Jun 1 2011: We can never accept it to be OK to feel shame, to feel hurt or to feel disappointed, these feelings are not OK. It's easy to recognize this as the way these feeling make you feel (bad).

    On the other hand, if we embrace vulnerability, they will manifest themselves eventually. It is not vulnerability we need to embrace, but Love, as Love is what you are speaking of but you seems to recognize the vulnerable state of Love, it is true that Love can be easily overcome by Fearful means, but Love is way stronger than Fear.

    One who really embrace Love can never be defeated. The bad feelings that might be part of the journey will instantly disappear if you truly are in a Loving state of mind. You will forgive the oppressor and be compassionate to the oppressed, you will reduce the anger of the oppressors even though they might not feel good to lose a part of their Fear because for them to know that you don't Fear them, confused their mislead hearts but drags them unwillingly to the good side "Love". They might get angry even more, but as they throw their anger away they will only reduce their negativeness, so that they reach the state of mind where they really question themselves as to whether or not what they are doing is good or bad.

    However hard it is, Love is the only solution, no doubt on that. It is never easy in this environment but it is the righteous way.

    Love > Fear
    • Jun 2 2011: Dear Maxime, thank you for your comment. My point to accepting the feelings that make you feel bad as you say is that we should learn to accept and control our feelings. What you feel and how you react to experiences in life it is always up to you. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” said Ghandi.
      One can chose its own thoughts, reactions and emotions in almost every occasion, and one can chose to amplify the bad feelings or accept and manage them. If we are confident that whatever we feel it cannot hurt us unless we allow ourselves to be hurt, we could embrace with love all our feelings.
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        Jun 10 2011: I believe emotions are a temporary response to our perception of the situation we are in (which includes our thoughts). Emotions pass on their own if we do not resist them. We can continually stimulate the same emotion by dwelling on it or justifying it in our mind. Painful emotions are part of life just as love is part of life. If we resist pain, we resist love and we resist life. The key is to recognize that pain is temporary but we can choose to make love last.

        I made a video podcast for my students on Understanding Emotion. You are welcome to view it at
    • Eva M

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      Jun 25 2011: Yes! "LOVE IS THE ONLY SOLUTION"!
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    Jun 1 2011: In order to embrace vulnerability you have to believe that the rewards of doing so outweigh the potential risks and losses.
    People shut down and lose hope of finding sincere and meaningful connection after experiencing rejection, loss or ridicule. They then demonstrate a sort of learned helplessness. Learned Helplessness can only be overcome by multiple positive experiences that reaffirm life.
    So, in answer to your question, I think we may not be able to just 'snap to it' and decide today to embrace vulnerability but we can look at the eventsand behaviours that destroy the will to be open and vulnerable to others. We can decide today to make the world a bit safer place where ever we are by refusing to treat people in ways that reduce their emotional safety. We can be the change that we want to see in the world by demonstrating the qualities of vulnerability to the limit of our own ability and by being brave.

    Thank you,Cornelia for a really important and worthwhile question!
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    Jun 25 2011: whether we embrace it or runaway from it.we will always be 'vulnerable'.
  • Eva M

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    Jun 25 2011: It is true that our vulnerability is a beautiful inborn quality in each of us. It means being open, sensitive, defenseless. It is not protecting one’s own tender underbelly. It is putting oneself into the hands of others, entrusting the deepest and most tender feelings of oneself to others.

    Accepting our vulnerability is not equal with accepting our faults and shortcomings. The constructive way to deal with shortcomings is to overcome them. And yet, the emotional vulnerability is not a weakness of that type, even though many people try to override it becoming hard and guarded.

    The way to embrace vulnerability is to trust and love others. The reason why people don’t want to be vulnerable is because they have too many negative assumptions about others. There is that old script in people’s minds that you are going to be hurt, rejected, laughed at, that’s why you need to protect yourself. But these assumptions make others into monsters are hurtful by themselves. Who if not a very cruel person would laugh when you express your love? And then if in your mind the others are about to hurt you, if they are the evil ones, you are not going to expose yourself. One needs to LOVE others and see in them the heart that they are in order to show oneself in truth.

    We are ALL sensitive and tender. And we all need a sanctuary for delicate flowers. We need to provide one another with respect, kindness, trust and love – love that is embracing, not rejecting. And we need to trust in Love. In the Love that will protect us, instead of us protecting ourselves. Love will take care of us. It surely will.
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    Jun 21 2011: Cornelia, Nice question. Recognising our vulnerabilities, accepting that we are still human and maintaining a healthy self-esteem, i feel, will help us embrace our vulnerabilities. No one is perfect. The maturity to do this will only come in those who learn to trust, learn to love and live their emotions. Thank you.
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    Jun 18 2011: Vulnerability is important to embrace. If we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable (really just accepting that we are vulnerable as humans, no matter how much we try to protect ourselves), we can really appreciate so much more about each other. Getting to know someone, seeing their weaknesses mirroring your own, allows you to really love and appreciate that person. Then it becomes cyclical, as you both share, you can both grow and appreciate each other. The more you know, the more you grow.
    I think many of us have heard or know from experience that babies and children cry daily, or multiple times daily, while adults cry much more infrequently. In my experience, children are overall "more emotional" than adults. As a society, we see that as something to be trained and matured out of us. When we stop our tears from coming, do we not also block other emotions? As we cry less, do we also laugh less? Are we sure it's worth the trade-off?
    I think we can embrace vulnerability by embracing ourselves. If we allow ourselves to be authentic, and feel all of the feelings as they come, acknowledging them as part of this beautiful, limited human experience, we can embrace vulnerability. If we can remember that feeling pain means that at least we are still alive and feeling, maybe we can embrace vulnerability
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    Jun 17 2011: By accepting it.
  • Jun 4 2011: Without evil... Being "good" would not be the right thing to do-- it would be the only thing to do. There would be no distinction between good and evil simply because of the absence of evil.

    Without vulnerability... Loss would not exist, because vulnerability assumes the ability to lose. Without loss how could we distinguish "gain" and "success"? Vulnerability makes life worth living. When this is understood, it can be truly embraced.
  • Jun 27 2011: It is not good to embrace our vulnerabilites. I am not suggesting one be delusional and not believe he has them but we should always be at war with the weak and begarly elements of our mental and physical constitution. Our culture is becoming overy feminized which leads to moral decadance. Overly masculine societiesare too despotic. We need to strike a proper balance. Imagine a soldier that could not run long distances with heavy equipment believing this was a unique part of him, another soldier has horrible aim, and yet another deplorable communication skills. All believing their foibles to be interesting personal quirks. We would be colonized by high noon!
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      Jun 29 2011: Imagine soldiers that fight with love, instead of bringing hatred and fear with weapons they bring food and construction materials, they give away everything they have and they educate the poor in order countries how to operate machines so they can produce what they need.

      Imagine that this way of living is the only profitable way, that stealing resources by force is forbidden. That producing weapons is a crime and that charity is becoming the way of the riches.

      By using fear to protect yourself from fear, you don't get rid of fear but you increase your fear by spreading it to others which in turns spread fear to others until somebody gets back to you and increase in turns your fear.

      There is only one solution to break this and it's with love.
  • Jun 21 2011: Well said Jaeyun ! Embracing weakness make you weak. We can not be dishonest about it but that is not to say we must welcome it.
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    Jun 20 2011: I recommend Irene Brown talk's with ted about vulnerability in many languages. I meant Achille that Brad Bit who acted his character, hope you enjoyed his song.
  • Jun 18 2011: i will not accept vulnerability. Yes i have it. Yes we have it. Yes it sucks to have it exposed. Yes it sucks having to cover for it but there lies my problem to your idea. By exposing your vulnerabilities you are not accepting it, you are trying to strengthen your resolve to the pain of having it crushed. We are vulnerable and we strive to make it disappear. All human endeavor from clothes to cellphones try to eliminate those vulnerabilities. If we accept our vulnerabilities and treat them as a fact of life, humans will not advance. We will be happy but as a society we will be still. Why change what has been accepted.
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      Jun 19 2011: The question was "How do you embrace vulnerability?" The question did not ask, "What can we do to make a better human?" Accepting that vulnerability exists can give motivation to strengthen yourself.
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    Jun 16 2011: Lovely question. Humility is vulnerability's parent. Faith its spirit. Strength its alter ego.
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    Jun 16 2011: Something I find equally important as accepting vulnerability in one's self, is accepting the vulnerabilities of others. The difficulty in this is our ignorance towards what we take for granted. Our sight, or hearing, or voice being some of the bigger examples of the many possible disabilities or mere differences that differentiate us. The more we learn to accept others the more we learn to accept ourselves.
    • Jun 16 2011: I agree dear Jesse that we have to be kind and accept vulnerability in others as in ourselves. But doesn’t it work the other way around, accept and love yourself before you do the same with the people around you? Don’t you first stand up on your own before you help others to stand up?
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    Jun 15 2011: I believe teaching and examples in the bible aren't hoax. All failure happens to us in life if doesn't lead us to actually get closer to God in any religion, then we should commit suicide." what doesn't kill me makes me stronger " don't know who said this slogan but it's true in all measures. Trying in life more and more gives us the hope which take our hand to whatever we need to be or have. Hope you enjoy this song and read his page on the net to see how he was killed.
    • Jun 16 2011: As I know Friedrich Nietzsche said that... I will take a look at your link. Thank you for your comments Bob.
  • Jun 15 2011: I believe that we need to acknowledge to ourselves that when we are feeling vulnerable we are actually dealing with "what should be" in our lives, the real power is when we recognize this, interrupt the feeling of vulnerability and begin to deal with what "is" actually happening. The problem is that we all have an automatic listening for "what should be" and it takes real practice to look at our world not through the filters of our experiences but as it is really happening.

    I'm not sure we should really "embrace" vulnerability, rather we should acknowledge it, interrupt it and then get into action.
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    Jun 12 2011: I believe what you are talking about is self-compassion, and I think it comes with practice. I'm not sure I agree with all the benefits people espouse to this practice, but I suspect that as it diminishes the internal conflict one feels within one's self, it probably leads to a calmer, happier, and more well-adjusted being.
    • Jun 15 2011: Thank you for comments Sam.
      I am just curious, what part of my message lead you to believe that I am talking about self compassion?
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    Jun 9 2011: By accepting to be vulnerable, and seeping in the bitter-sweet nector of learning and self awareness that it generates.
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    Jun 1 2011: Yours is a risky proposition. To be truly vulnerable, one needs to let go of the fear and worry and open themselves to whatever will come. Ideally this would start by accepting that vulnerability can lead to gains but as Debra said, there are also potential risks and losses with that. Maybe you can simply stay in the moment and acknowledge that you are feeling vulnerable without thinking about where it will lead.