#44. The Courage of Vulnerability
Vulnerability is something we all need, yet can not seem to come to grips with.
Why is it that we, a lot of the time see ourselves as Perfectionists and don’t realise that when we are being perfectionists we are hiding from the real truth, that we are afraid to be vulnerable.
There is no courage without vulnerability.
Take the old school, “stoic” types. I need to preface this with, I am not talking about those who subscribe to stoicism as a way of understanding the world, I am talking about those who were raised in the early 1900s and were raised on the idea that if weakness is shown it makes one flawed and emotionally unstable.
Now, this stoic type believes that he is courageous, strong, emotionally stable and masculine.
Let’s break this down for a second.
As men we are raised to be “masculine”, to not cry or lose control, to fight with our fists and not our heads and to belittle anyone who insults or threatens us.
In doing so we teach our boys to ignore their base instincts when they get emotional and so, therefore, we end up with a world full of angry, resentful, sexually pent up young men, who end up letting out there aggression on other unsuspecting men, whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Do you honestly think any of these men are painting in their garages or doing martial arts?
Vulnerability is a weakness in our society, it has been for at least the past one hundred years.
Yet we still hail those who are courageous. The funny thing is that they go hand in hand, but at some point in human history we decided they were separate.
Brene Brown says that “there is no courage without vulnerability”.
Why is this?
That can’t be, my dad taught me if I cry girls won’t like me and I’ll get beat up?
My dad used to ask me why am I crying, that’s unnecessary.
I was an emotional kid admittedly.
I wasn’t necessarily taught how to control my emotions, due to the fact that my mum was probably the predominate more masculine figure in our household. When my dad had more effeminate traits.
Interestingly enough now that I think about it, I was raised by two people with more masculine traits.
My father is, I believe one of the best men I know, so too is his father, however where we differ is that I am more likely to call someone out when I believe they are being unfair and tell the truth in a situation where it would be considered, by my father as, inappropriate or just not worth it.
He never was able to teach me how to “pick my battles” as he put it.
There is no courage without Vulnerability.
That’s one hell of a statement to make. One could say it’s loaded.
I don’t know much beyond creation and a little bit of philosophy, but what I do know Is that there is no humanity without vulnerability.
The human condition is that of a damaged creature and if the bible is to believed, a creature born of sin.
This therefore by definition, makes us Vulnerable.
There’s no doubt in my mind, that we are physically vulnerable at the least.
I mean look at the tiger, one of the fastest, strongest, most agile creatures on this planet, within 200 meters of them, we become instantly their prey.
We may be more intelligent than they are and have opposable thumbs, however on the inate physical battlefield, we are the inferior creature.
Stand face to face with a Tiger and tell me there is no vulnerability in the courage of doing that.
We spoke of the ego just over a month ago, here on Making Lemonade. This is in fact what sets us apart from the animals of the jungle and the sea.
No other creature possesses an ego, except maybe the common house cat, those fuckers are selfish as it gets.
You see there is a huge difference between a survival instinct and an ego.
The survival instinct is in place to keep the creature’s species alive because they play an integral part in the ecosystem.
You could almost say that is selfless as they are essentially keeping themselves alive, so as to keep life itself alive.
The ego, however, is self-serving, well the selfish ego is.
The positive ego keeps us self-aware and serving the greater good.
You see most of us will serve the negative ego, hence overeating, addiction and abuse of others.
However as we have learnt throughout history, the service of the negative ego causes us to take our fear of our own vulnerability out on others and show false courage.
False courage Is often a show of courage that is shown at someone else’s expense and can just come off as stupidity and arrogance.
For instance (not to get too political beyond this) Donald Trump threatened Iran and it’s leaders this past week.
Ladies and gentlemen that's stupidity and arrogance, that's a man who cares not for the safety of his people or life itself but only for his own ego and how he looks to the great community.
The consequences of this false courage are often dire. Especially when world leaders are the ones who are feeding their broken egos on the world political stage.
On the other hand, Professional Wrestler Roman Reigns born “Leati Joseph "Joe" Anoaʻi” was re-diagnosed with leukaemia.
He was and still is the WWE Universal Champion. He had to not only relinquish his title, as well as leave indefinitely from the WWE at the high of his success and fame.
Instead of just leaving the WWE with no explanation, he got up, courageously on International Television and announced his Leukemia had gone out of remission and that he was headed back to recovery.
This was a serious show of vulnerability and strength.
This is a man who knew the consequences back to front and still faced them head on, and he’s a professional wrestler, which is considered a very masculine line of work. This made him no less masculine by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, it probably made him even more masculine, as he showed courage through vulnerability.
Let’s talk about perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a curse that a lot of creatives battle with every day.
Perfectionism is often regarded as a strength in the western world.
The idea that we are such hard workers that we have to get everything right and work on something until it is, “Perfect”.
We regard it as an admirable trait, one that only the most intelligent and hardest of workers possess.
This is wild because we associate perfectionism with intelligence, when in fact it should really be associated with the negative ego and the fact that the perfectionist is actually afraid of what others will think of them, so, therefore, they strive for everything to be perfect so that no one. Can think them flawed.
Therefore there is no way to measure someone’s vulnerability as they give off a feeling that there is none.
Now a layman might think this person is cool, calm, collected, successful, emotionally stable.
When in fact, if you just sit and have a conversation with a perfectionist, their flaws are written all over their face and body language.
The perfectionist, in my experience, will often be very arrogant, boastful and self-centred.
They will almost never take responsibility for the part they have played in their shortcomings and will almost never mention them, so as to not be perceived as “weak” by others.
The perfectionist is possibly the most flawed of us all as he is cowardly in the face of danger, will always put himself first and most every action he embarks upon is self serving and often arrogant and to achieve validation from all those he respects.
When in fact deep inside he is a scared little boy who’s dad or even mum for that matter, never taught him how to be vulnerable because he was belittled by one or both his parents every time he showed any vulnerability and told that its not masculine to be vulnerable, essentially.
This then becomes a very hard trait to reprogram for the perfectionist as first, they must let go of their ego and destroy all that they were taught. Then he must speak with his inner child and become one with him or her so that there is no internal conflict.
Finally he must learn how to be vulnerable and this can take years as it took an entire lifetime in most cases for one to learn perfectionism, so therefore it can sometimes take an entire lifetime for the perfectionist to learn how to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability is a mindfulness practice.
Being creative, we must be vulnerable otherwise we are not allowing our selves to give over a part of ourselves to our art forms.
Art is a practice in vulnerability because art is an expression of emotion and it is in place to incite emotion.
So why should we be vulnerable, and why do we need it to give us courage in our creativity?
Well, that answer is simple. We, first of all, need the courage to face the Blank canvas as I spoke about back in episode #42.
However, we can not do this without first being vulnerable and being willing to hand over that vulnerability to the blank canvas.
We must be willing to make mistakes and make them big, so as to learn what not to do and in turn what exactly will make our work successful.
We can not create our full capacity without first giving over to our vulnerabilities.
We must show vulnerability to become courageous and then we can use that vulnerability to create the best work we have ever seen.