Exploring vulnerabilities

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

The path of personal development always begins with coming to know yourself.  This involves setting aside time to reflect and examine your strengths and vulnerabilities, likes and dislikes, habits and patterns, boundaries or lack thereof, your basic beliefs about the world around you and much more.

Inspired by the book Vulnerable Leadership, Danette from FibroHaven did just this, and shared her vulnerable side with her community of readers.  Revealing your vulnerabilities can be an important step in creating a greater sense of trust and connection, and may also be the impetus for others to engage in a similar self review.

That’s exactly what happened for me after reading Danette’s article.   I felt admiration for this genuine, vulnerable yet also strong woman.  I was  prompted to reflect upon my own vulnerabilities too, and share my revelations with you now.

As a preamble, let me suggest that in exploring your vulnerabilities gentleness is the key.  The point isn’t to string yourself up by the thumbs or to develop self-loathing.  Whatever you find in yourself, be assured, you are not alone.  We all have weaknesses and work to do in this school of life.  As you navigate your vulnerabilities, remember your positive qualities as well, and bear in mind Buddha’s advice:

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

My vulnerabilities

1.  Fear - Fear has been a major factor in my life since early childhood.  I was frightened at an early age and fear became a continuous theme.  Although I expressed a great deal of bravado as a teen, trauma that occurred as a young adult, suddenly painted the world unsafe once again.

For the greatest part of my life, I was ashamed of being fearful. I pushed forward trying not to let others know, finding workarounds to avoid fearful situations.  This deep lack of self acceptance automatically creates a knot of tension inside.  Without intentionally wishing to deceive, you are still straining to hold up a facade. Georgia O’Keefe once said,“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”   In a similar spirit, I soldiered on, but there was a price to pay.

In Ayurvedic medicine, each person is said to have a unique constitution (“dosha”), a mix of three basic types.  Understanding your constitution sheds light on your innate temperament, which is said to be genetically determined.  Having this knowledge was like a healing salve for me.  These are the challenging emotions associated with each type when they are put under stress:

  • VATA – Impatience, fear, worry, anxiety
  • PITTA – Anger, hatred, jealousy, and other fiery emotions
  • KAPHA – Inertia, attachment, greed, and envy

Reading this explanation had a huge impact on me.  At long last, I was able to see and begin to accept that we are all alike in having vulnerabilities.  Thus, I didn’t have to be ashamed of my fear.

Although the system holds that these inclinations are genetic and cannot be overcome entirely, it is possible to master them to a great degree. That’s what personal development and spiritual transformation are all about.  With understanding and perseverance, they have far less hold over you.  You can even come to see them in a humorous light. It’s equally important to know that in Ayurveda, each constitution also boasts wonderful positive qualities, just as each and everyone of you do too.

As to my fear, it’s had a stranglehold on me such a big part of my life.  However, I can now happily report that through regular meditation, the Buddhist view of emptiness, and the skillful techniques of Amygdala retraining, it’s not the huge menace it used to be.

2.  Arrogance – By now you may have guessed that I’m, at least in part, a VATA type.  You’re right!  But my arrogance is decidedly a PITTA characteristic. I’m actually a blend of VATA-PITTA.

I confess, I can be a know-it-all.  So much so that I missed recognizing this most of my years, because naturally I am always right, aren’t I?  My way is the best way!

Arrogance can be a terrible characteristic because it blocks you from fresh possibilities and the opportunity to learn from others.  I’m an intelligent person.  I do know and understand a great deal.  But many times more than once, I missed a vital point stubbornly clinging to my approach or point of view.  I could count the times I might have suffered less if I had only been more receptive.

While I haven’t embraced total humility by any means, there is a beam of light shining through a tiny crack allowing me to see that I may not always be spot on.  More than ever, I understand we are each on individual journeys.  What’s right for me, may not be right for you.  Sometimes, the wrong way is the right way.  Maybe I don’t know as much as I think I do, and am truly just a beginner on the path. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” -Suzuki Roishi

3. Hopelessness - My guess is that hopelessness is a KAPHA quality.  Overall, I have very little KAPHA in my basic constitution.  Generally, I am optimistic even to the point of being naive at times.  But when the going gets rough, I can drift into a black hole of hopelessness and float there for periods of time.  It’s not an overwhelming force in my life, but I need to stay on the lookout for it so I can steer a different course when it does arise.

The list does not stop with these three vulnerabilities alone!  For the sake I brevity and a little mystery, I won’t go on.

Understanding and accepting your vulnerabilities is the first step forward on this journey called personal development.

Have you explored your vulnerabilities?  Care to share?

Recommended Book:
Prakriti:  Your Ayurvedic Constitution by Robert Svoboda

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10 thoughts on “Exploring vulnerabilities

  1. I find when we tell on ourselves we go from being a blogger to a person and friend to our readers.

    Tell on myself?

    Oh yeah ask my hubs about my need to be right…I can see him shaking his head yes as I type.

    Controlling: Ask my sons-in laws about this trait. LOL

    Pity Pot: I’ve been know to throw a few parties!

    I think when I look my shadow in the face I can laugh, smile and accept my humanness. It’s from this point I can love myself!

    Thanks for the opportunity to be free. Louise Hay says my shoulders are made for joy and I feel just that light and joyous!

    • Tess, You have a beautiful spirit. I love how you can laugh, smile, and accept your humaneness when you look your shadow in the face. You have a good humor about your particular tendencies! Stay well and keep pumping out that love and positivity. I love it.

  2. This was an enlightening read for me, and I am so pleased my post inspired this from you. Thank you for sharing your very personal and intimate vulnerabilities. It says so much of your strength that you have been able to diminish the hold your they had over you.

    I am still sitting with the comment you left for me – that maybe there is no “finish.” That makes this journey all the more delightful, and frightening!

    Maybe the point is to learn to find comfort as a beginning traveler, embracing the many possibilities, instead of trying so hard to reach the pinnacle and leaving myself with few. I love the quote you shared from Roishi! As you can see it inspired me.

    I do know that I am very grateful to have crossed your path on my journey. You are a warm and much welcomed companion!

    • Dannette, I am very touched by your comment. I admire your dedication to helping others with Fibro, your deep thinking, your holistic approach, your willingness to try new ways. I too am grateful our path’s have crossed and learn so much from your courage and explorations whenever I read your blog. Thanks very much for your comment. I hope people will pop over and read your post on the topic at

  3. Before the vulnerabilities, I wanted to say I like the new design – I do detect a new design _ I hope I am right, Sandra! Oh and on the vulnerabilities, so many – I think fear is right there for me too – in small and in big stuff…..I am constantly working to overcome it. Deep breathing helps but not as much as I’d hoped. And I take more inspiration from you on Ayurvedic medicine.
    Thank you Sandra!!!

    • Farnoosh, Thanks for your compliment on the blog design. Yes, I’ve been tweaking and am quite satisfied. This is the longest i’ve stayed with a theme so far.:) Gosh, I would have never guessed that fear is an issue for you, you are so dynamic. But our personalities can be such a mix of strengths and vulnerabilities side by side so anything is possible. Thanks for responding so openly. You are a gem.

  4. HI Sandra,
    You make me want to come there and hug you! I love how you are so open about yourself. It comes from a place of deep comfort within you and with yourself…that you can state your vulnerabilities.
    As for me and my vulnerabilities….ohhh the list is endless. I might seem like I have it all under wraps..but I kid you not..I can be fussy, adamant and mix in a bit of mad rage every now and then. Thankfully I have been able to keep it in check….or atleast most of the time. But sometimes, when I forget to be conscious about my being I forget about being in the now….thats when they strike.these vulnerabilities.
    BUt really without all these good and bad and vulnerable sides to each of us, what uniqueness would we be offering to the world.
    Accepting and embracing our vulnerabilities I think makes for stronger, heart centered living :)
    I am beginning to fall in love with your new blog design Sandra! I want to change my sidebar color to a light pastel lavender….ahh….and I dont know head nor tail of css…so I guess I am stuck :(
    Much Love,
    Z~

    • Zeenat, I would love it if you would come here and give me a hug! Somehow, your list of vulnerabilities made me smile because you are such a light filled being. But of course we all have some and as you say it spices up the world. If you ever decide to get the CSS upgrade, I can give you the code for what I did or some tips on how to make the changes you want. It’s not so difficult to make simple changes. It must cost a fortune though in India, I would imagine. All my love to you.

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