The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid.

Being vulnerable means you are comfortable opening up to other people. You tell your story as it is – not fearing rejection or judgment. You allow yourself to be soft and real – despite that life can be messy and imperfect. 

Brene Brown in her book ‘Daring Greatly… says that “vulnerability is the birth place of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.” Qualities that we desperately need in the world today.

But for eons patriarchal cultures have dictated how men and women should behave. Hard and masculinised structures and relationships forms the core of our social and economic systems and institutions.

Masculinisation has harmed both men and women. Women tend to believe that to be free or ‘liberated’ like men, one has to divorce herself from her true nature and aspire to become what she isn’t – fierce, assertive, rational and competitive.  The patriarchal culture has also dictated how men should behave and so conscious man’s qualities are grossly misinterpreted: strength instead means gun shooting or fighting or fast car racing or beer chugging.

Vulnerability is looked upon as a weakness and showing feelings is a taboo. Analytical and assertive qualities rather than intuitive and receptive qualities are considered necessary to possess in order to compete and succeed – at our jobs, in our personal lives and in our relationships with others.

So many in our modern culture have numbed vulnerability. They numb their emotions and suppress their feelings and hence they hide their true selves. Many do it out of the fear of rejection and others out of feelings of shame or guilt. And a lot more people harbour feelings of unworthiness.

Vulnerable People are the Strong Ones

People who are vulnerable and openly express their feelings and emotions are in fact the strong ones. They are people who have endured pain and through that pain found the courage to be themselves – despite that it involved uncertainty and emotional exposure.

People who are vulnerable feel everything and anything that comes their way: when they love, they love with every ounce of their soul even when there is no guarantee of love. When they give, they give with every ounce of their being with no expectation. When they sing, they sing the song that resonates with their heart. 

Vulnerable people sometimes give others the power to destroy them so that can be built anew. They are aware that remaining the same and not changing with the ebb and flow of life is going against the natural flow and rhythm of life.

They know that pain, anger and sadness cannot be overcome fighting or suppressing them. Fighting what you feel means fearing to live. It means creating defences and a distrust for life. It means doubting your natural ability to adapt, transform and live life …some more.

Finding Tao in Water

There is a great wisdom taught in the Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu) and that wisdom is not to fight life. Not to fight feelings and emotions. It is only by being soft and vulnerable that one can conquer the pain and difficulties of life.    

‘Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it’ ~ Lao Tzu

When you flow like water –  you do not have a plan or you forget that you had one. So you flow from one space into another without expectations of what to find next. You deal with whatever space you find yourself in. 

One can alter the course and shape of water but not its basic nature to overcome the hardest things, such as rocks.

‘You can hit it, but you can’t hurt it. You can stab it, but you can’t wound it. You can hack it, but you can’t cut it. You can light it, but you can’t burn it. Nothing in the world can alter this thing we call water’ ~ Hsi T’ung

Both men and women should appreciate and possess vulnerability and openness. Being open and vulnerable allows for trust, connection, intuition and compassion.

Everyone knows this to be true but few put it in practice because of the stigma associated with being vulnerable and open. ‘At the root of every human connection lies vulnerability, says Brown. When we allow ourselves to be completely open and vulnerable we benefit, and our relationships improve.’

Openness and softness should form the basis of our social and economic interactions and structures. If it forms the core of how we interact with each other, we will someday overcome the hardness we witness in the masculinised world today – poverty, depravity, greed, wars and killings. All will be gone.   

Hopefully someday that love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity will form the core of humanity. Of how we will interact and connect with one another. 

Radhika Mīa