Is it Okay to be Our Vulnerable and Authentic Selves?


Is it? Is it okay to be vulnerable? Is being vulnerable a sign of weakness or strength? If it is a sign of strength then is there guarantee that once we show our vulnerable side no one will take advantage of it? What if someone hurts us again and in a way that will mar us for life? What if we are not accepted or are made fun of? What if we end up alone and ostracized? However trivial the issue might be for the objective viewer, for the person going through this dilemma, it is always a big deal. Small matters can even lead to suicide depending on many factors but mainly based on how long the hurt has been collecting or piling and festering within.

Every single individual at one time or the other has gone through this dilemma and not just once! Up until now, societies have never encouraged showing our emotional or “weak” side. It is only over the past decade or so that men have started showing a softer side for the traditional male took it all in. A favorite macho dialogue in Hindi films, which people quote often is “Mard ko dard nahi hota” (A man does not feel pain). Don’t we know that behind every bully is a coward? We all don masks as I have mentioned earlier in “The Grand Masquerade” and it is to hide this vulnerable self that may not be able to take the blow of criticism or unacceptance.

Every individual, irrespective of gender has both a masculine and feminine side and it is increasingly visible that women with hard experiences often operate from their masculine side, keeping their vulnerable side under wraps. Men do it all the time.

What we need to know and understand is that if we want to be authentic and 100 percent our true self, we should embrace our vulnerable side, accept it and be proud of it. Once this is done, we can bring that side out for the world to see and we can live freely without fear. Is it easy? Of course not! Years and years of conditioning will prevent us from doing it and the brain/mind will pump in so much of fear, defense mechanisms and convoluted logic that we tend to hide our vulnerable sides a little more perhaps behind the broadest smile.

I present a few tips below to help us bring out our shadow side. When I use the term shadow side, I mean a side that we are not comfortable with, which brings a certain amount of guilt or shame within us, were this side to be exposed.

n  Self-Acceptance- First and foremost, we have to accept who we are. Unless we do, how do we expect anyone else to. If we don’t love ourselves enough, we tend to suspect everyone else’s love for us because deep down we don’t feel worthy of love. This has to be looked into seriously. We are great the way we are despite all flaws- actual ones and perceived ones! These flaws in combination with our good qualities make us the unique human being we are. Let us learn to cherish that. No negative self-talk hereafter.

n  Setting Boundaries- This cannot be overemphasized! It is absolutely essential to set your boundaries. We spend half of our lives doing what our parents and teachers have taught us, but they couldn’t teach us what they didn’t know, could they? We have been taught to be “nice” or “good girls/boys”, well mannered, always happy, hiding pain and sorrow except to the family all the time and to everybody except strangers (safety purposes). If a friend came over and you didn’t feel like mingling because you were dealing with some personal issue, you are shown the stern eye. “That’s rude. Imagine someone coming over to meet us and our saying sorry we are in no mood!” This happens a lot in India (perhaps in Asia) and that is one thing we must learn from the western world. They do not come over without calling. In India, that is formality and must be done away with if genuine love exists. I need the rolling eyes emoji desperately!! This is just one example. Basically, it is drilled into our psyche that everyone else comes first- that is kindness, that is altruism, that is large heartedness and believe me, that is WRONG! You and your emotions are as important as the next persons. No matter what relationship you are in, however close the person might be, if it gets toxic, recognize it and release it if it cannot be cured. It has to be 50-50. Always.

n   Stop seeking external validation- You are your best judge. No one knows you like you do. You do what you do with great effort and sincerity and so be appreciative of even the smallest effort you put in, whether or not anyone else sees it, acknowledges it or appreciates it. Don’t look to others to tell you how good you are- not your parents, not your friends, not your teachers, not your spouse/partner, not your kids- NO ONE! Give yourself a pat on the back for every little task done-whether it is successful or not. The pat on the back is for the effort. Believe me, your relationships will improve tremendously if you do not expect anything from them.

n  Expectations cause sorrow- Nip them in the bud. The Bhagavad Gita has truth that has been tried and tested forever. One major teaching in it is to do your work to the best of your ability, knowing it is the right thing to do and do not get attached to the outcome or the fruits of your labor. Leave control. Let the Divine/ Universe/ Higher Power take care of it. If you can actually master this and it isn’t easy, you will find peace and satisfaction in all that you do. I am actively practicing this and when I don’t, inevitably brooding follows. Let go of control of the consequences.

n  Adopt silence rituals- Our parents didn’t teach us to enjoy silence. I don’t think they enjoyed it themselves unless it was to take a nap. They did want us to keep quiet (shut up rather!) but that is not what I am getting at. Even our teachers told us to keep quiet so that they didn’t get a headache but no one told us that sitting in quiet meditation with no distraction but just with oneself calmly was beneficial, therapeutic. If people had learnt to be comfortable in their own company, so many suicides would have been averted. I understand man is a social animal but man should be able to live in this world on his/her own if the need arises and that should not be a crisis for him/her. Please inculcate this one habit in your children. Let them learn to be comfortable by themselves without gadgets. Learn the habit yourself. No need of meditation rituals or sitting upright. Lie down, walk in nature, slump into a bean bag but just be still. Let the mind think what it has to, don’t control it. Ten minutes a day.

n  Restrict social media- Social media is a silent addiction that creeps in like food addiction and it destroys you. Unlike alcohol, cigarettes, drugs which come with warnings, social media and food are accepted by the society and unless you are aware and mindful, you will be sucked in and lose your sense of balance. Social media promotes external validation, projection, being anything but authentic and it can contort reality for young impressionable minds. Depression, poor self-worth, continuous comparison- keeping up with the Joneses is all that social media is about. Negativity at its best with people wanting to hear their own voices while they rant and rave but giving no solutions. I agree it is the norm and you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb but restrict it. Get real. You are not defined by the “likes” you get. It is okay if you are holidaying in local locations instead of exotic getaways. Have the courage to be yourself. If luxury and fame could buy you everything, why do celebrities take their own life at the peak of their careers. It is because they are tired of the projection but they don’t know anything else. They succumb to pressure which is inhuman. Be kind to yourself ALWAYS.

The points I have mentioned above are to strengthen you from within. We are all works in progress. If we can follow the above to the best of our abilities, we will be resilient and confident enough to be authentic always and not ever think of terminating our wonderful lives. Life is a treasure and we are blessed to be gifted with it so let us enjoy this journey on our terms, celebrating our true selves! So, is it okay to be our Vulnerable and Authentic selves? YES! THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO BE!


 

 


Comments

  1. I know what triggered this...but extremely well written, the overflowing thoughts have been voiced from the heart....and I have absorbed it.. ��

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    1. Hmm...the recent episode has indeed triggered this. It was very disturbing. If this blog can help even a few, I shall be happy.

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  2. Each word is so true in your blog. As an individual, I really believe in self-acceptance and in being vulnerable sometimes. I teach my kids and students the same too. What is most important is, to be self-aware. It is alright to feel low, un-loved, bored . That is only when we learn to appreciate to be happy, be loved and be entertained. No matter what people say or how they react , if we are clear in our conscience, our parents know us and our family is ever in love with us , then we are surely the King of the World - our little world in this big World. Your words, dear friend, strengthen my conviction.

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    1. True Anvita. In fact, I believe that every single person must have a taste of failure early in life so that he/she remains grounded and understands that it is a reality and that neither failure nor success defines them. They are a lot more than that! I would go to the extent of saying that even if your family isn't with you (there are a lot many cases like that when children leave home or have a bad atmosphere at home or a congenial atmosphere but parents with strong but opposing points of view), you must believe in yourself. It is easier if you are on the right side but if you have erred, even then know that there is a solution. Own responsibility and right the wrong. We are all flawed and we all make mistakes all the time. And last but not the least, I really hope people could stop being judgemental! You are the kind of teacher this world needs Dear friend!

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    2. I agree totally with you

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  3. Bang On!!!! Another brilliant piece.. Can't believe I actually missed reading this one for so long. Self acceptance - without doubt, is the key. So true that we tend to doubt ourselves and all thanks to more than anything, societal conditioning! We attribute our worth too much to the people around us.. being it mere acquaintances or even family members! It is sad that sometimes, it's family that can be more toxic than society. The sooner one realises that the only way forward is to believe in oneself and not rely on ratification from others around you.. the sooner one manages to break free of the self inflicted barriers of self doubt, the closer we are to achieving happiness! Love Love Love the blog... And Love you even more!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much Toxicheaven! :) :) Only thing is that the social conditioning over years and years at vulnerable stages of our life leaves an imprint which is hard to overcome. Constant effort is required to break free.

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