Feeling vulnerable

Peope can feel vulnerable on many different occasions in their lives for varied reasons. They may be experiencing discomfort or violence in their own home, in the workplace they may lack confidence in presenting their work, be shy, seemingly less able to make friends than others. Vulnerability can hit us in many different ways time and time again and often without warning.

Vulnerability can feel really scary. Will I be safe walking past that gang of kids at the bus stop? Will I be OK paying for this supermarket shop or will my card be refused? How can I be sure of finding my way home in the dark the first time I've been to a particular place? Will I be safe walking home on my own at 10 o'clock this evening? What if I don't know anyone at the event I've said I'll go to - what if no-one talks to me?

The possibilities are endless, forever changing and few of us have so much confidence that we never experience the jangling nerves, tightening of the jaw, shakey voice, churning stomach ... it's encoded deep in our reptilian brain. Fight, freeze or run away as quickly and as far as you can.

Alternatively, you can stop, take a breath, and choose to respond in a particular way, one which is kinder to yourself and any others involved. For myself, part of me was dreading going to see my daughter running in the London Marathon recently. My relatively recently diagnosed MS made me feel really vulnerable. Five years ago pre-diagnosis I would have been excited by the prospect of seeing her but no, I was worried about how I would cope with the crowds, the congestion, a fear of feeling utterly overwhelmed, a fear of falling. Reflecting on my newly reinforced sense of vulnerability, I asked my sons for help and they were happy to provide it (of course, Mum!).

Rene Brown finished a 2014 TED talk on vulnerability with the following: "... to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen, ...when we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough," when we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves." Let's stop the shame and enjoy our vulnerability as much as we can!