Vulnerability makes you beautiful. Part 2 – Our addiction to masks!
I promised you the ‘masala’ (spice) of vulnerability in my previous blog on the same topic, here is a taste of it.
As mentioned and researched, our aversion to share our vulnerability seems to be the common thread that most of us identify with. Some perceive it as a weakness, some think weakness is abused if shared, some feel ashamed, some feel dis-empowered, some feel unworthy of strengths they may possess, some feel embarrassed. To cover up these negative descriptors, we go to great lengths to distract our audience.
My ‘How’ in dealing with the awareness of ‘Vulnerability’.
I was at a stage in life, where I was looking for an epiphany and an answer to my internal conflicts. I was successful, financially, knowledgeably and from a reputation point of view, I was solid. Why then did I still feel the need for validation? Why then did I feel the need for friends? Why did I feel the need for tenderness and love, above the need for the shiny life that I worked so hard to create. I didn’t want to be know as a woman with ‘Balls of steel’, there was and is a softer human being behind this armor and I wanted THAT to be recognised.
My internal rhetoric.
“My armor has shielded me from a lot of pain .. but has it really?! Anyway, it was awesome that the awareness has arrived (my development mask on and very strongly in place, subconsciously), its the first step to change, now to embody the change.”
For me and my personality, asking for help, was a huge deal. My mask molded into my persona was, ‘I am strong, independent and don’t need any help.’ ‘I can do it on my own ‘.(does this sound familiar to some of you? or do you know some one who carries themselves like this?)
I thought embodying my vulnerability, was as simple as ‘be open and ask for help when needed’. In a lot of talks and inspirational videos we have all heard statements like –
You never know who will surprise you,
If you don’t ask, you will never get,
Be positive etc.
I found these talks made me feel guilty. My knowledge of vulnerability, cognitively made sense, but at a feeling level made me feel fake. The feeling that I was pretending to be somebody I wasn’t, and I was in-fact lying to myself and people around me was my motivator to take action. (FYI lies drive me up the wall, I pride myself in my honesty, another insight into my mask)
Why would I lie, mislead or be fake when the ‘truth ‘ was so easy and had so much promise?! I asked myself these questions many times before I really sprung into action. It did take a lot of internal coaxing and external coaxing from my coach.
My actions and its result.
Off I went armed with my knowledge and willingness to action my vulnerability. I was honest with people when I felt down, and I was honest, in asking for help when I needed it. Sadly NO ONE surprised me like the talks had said. The inspirational videos / speakers were a lie, positive psychology was a lie. This is what my defence mechanism screamed in my head. I was better off not asking for help, I was better off, not letting people know I was feeling down. I was safer not wanting a hug.
Next steps with my coach:
In my next few meetings with my coach, I was repeatedly asked about my experience. My persona of steel snapped back, “I felt humiliated, there were no surprises there. There must be another way, this whole vulnerability B.S, is just that.”
My coach asked me some very uncomfortable questions. “What was your tone like Triptta, when you expressed you were feeling down? What was your body language and tone like, when you were asking for help? What were you fearing in those situations? How authentic were you and how true to the real you, were you? Did you step into vulnerability with or with out your mask? “
Now, I was TRULY upset with me. My mask had absorbed my knowledge and betrayed me. It never let my authentic me come to the fore. I had the right words but lacked belief in my knowledge, in fact I lacked the courage to be authentic. My mask was still in place.
A physical yet symbolic view of my in-authenticity.
This gorgeous happy picture of mine was taken in 2008 soon after my separation, and the newly received information that I had stage 1 cervical cancer!
Your turn .. are you aware of your mask? and your in-authenticity?!
P.S. The science behind our relationship with vulnerability to consider: Our defence mechanism, born out of our limbic brain (it’s the brain that controls the fight, flight or comply response) is continually taking shape from a very young age and is weaving itself into our personality. Every passing incident, which bears resemblance to our negative perception of vulnerability, breathes a new layer of strength in our defence mechanism. By the time we reach adulthood, this has become second nature to us. This also means that changing our perception of our vulnerability is an uphill task.
For the scientifically oriented, positivist brained individuals, please message me and we can discuss the research and the contribution of social and cognitive neuroscience on this topic.