Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents/elders forced you to dance or sing or do mimicry when there were guests at home? Yeah, our parents have a habit of bragging about their children and what they can do. And as always you were unwilling to display your talents in front of outsiders. But as soon as they leave, you start singing or dancing. “Yeah yeah, when you are asked you don’t show anything but now you show it“, that’s the usual dialogue we used to hear from our elders/parents, taunting us. This is a generic event which must have happened in everyone’s life, I guess. It had happened in my life too!
It is the fear of being judged or being shamed or laughed at that often make us unwilling to perform what we are good at. I have seen someone who sings so well and can sing in front of a big congregation but unwilling to sing in a close gathering. The reason is same.
The feeling of being shamed or judged have always dragged us back and have become the biggest blockages to our vulnerability. Our vulnerability is not our weakness but it is our way of exposing ourselves to others even when we are uncertain of their reactions.
When I was looking into my life and was assessing how I have been carrying myself through till now, I found, I dealt with my vulnerabilities so poorly in the first phase of my life. But in the later part of my life, till now, I used my vulnerabilities as my stepping stones to climb up. The feeling of shame and being laughed at, had jeopardized my mental health when I was young. I lacked confidence. But when I came to Kolkata, I learned how to be vulnerable and accept the reactions of people. Now, when I see or hear the reactions of people, I don’t feel anything, in fact, I can easily predict who and how someone can react in a certain way when I am exposed. I enjoy it now, unlike the way I felt in the past.
I loved the second part of the quote where Brown states, “Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” I practically lived with all my vulnerabilities and now I see a quote from a psychologist confirming that what I did was right.
HOW DID I MANAGE TO LIFT UP THE BARRIERS OF SHAME OR BEING LAUGHED AT?
I recall, due to my physical inability I was merely a kind of spectator all through the years till I came to Kolkata. I never found a platform to get exposed. But once I sat in front of a screen and saw the humongous web world, I realised this is where I would love to be exposed. And it became easier for me to open up and talk about my vulnerability. And once I presented my case, voiced out who I am, handled my vulnerabilities with boldness, the feeling of being laughed at and shamed were wiped away from my heart and mind.
You know what? When I came out of the virtual world to the real or physical world, I looked and felt stronger than before. I was more confident.
When Aparna met me face to face for the first time, she made a statement which confirmed what I said above. She said, “Dad, you seem more stronger like this than on virtual platform“. That statement was such a mental booster that I can’t explain in words.
On Television, I have seen how a counselling care group functions. The counselor doesn’t sit separately or in a different chair but he or she sits alongside the people who usually come for counseling. And the counselor invites all to open up and share their hearts without compelling them even a single time. The counselor himself/herself starts with her/his life and then the most confident among all starts afterwards. Some people don’t speak at all for days but when they feel confident and comfortable they open their mouths. This is a western scenario, I wish or hope we have such facilities in India too.
Friends, are you worried about those many obstacles that make it hard for you to be vulnerable? Is it the feeling of shame or the uncertain reactions of people or the fear of being an odd man out or the gendered expectations or being considered weak that stop you to open up and be vulnerable? Use them as your stepping stones as I did. Prayerfully, try to understand yourself first. Secondly, identify the barriers to your vulnerabilities. Thirdly, try to figure out the easiest ways to tackle these barriers. Soon, you will find yourself at the point of being vulnerable easily in your daily life.