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  • Dora Nudelman

The Fear of Vulnerability

Ah, the ego. What is it really good for? Well, the ego can certainly help us to feel more defined in our individuality, which is a good thing when we are expressing our unique purpose. Unfortunately, it can also play a very destructive role in our lives if we let it get too out of control. For instance, it can cause us to put on masks in front of one another, hide our true feelings, and bury our own needs out of fear of rejection.

The thing is, though, when we care too much about how others are going to perceive us, unfortunately, we also allow our self-worth to be dictated by those external opinions. But that's a very dangerous way of existing because it makes us all the more susceptible to feelings of inadequacy. When we are too focused on appearing a certain way or maintaining a certain image we also run the risk of over-exhausting ourselves by trying to meet everyone's expectations; a feat that can be likened to running on the treadmill but never really getting anywhere.

Look, nobody wants to feel rejected for being who they are. And no one wants to open themselves up only to be shut down. However, what I have found is that vulnerability only feels like a weakness when we are too attached to what other people think. People will always have differing tastes and standards, so if we understand this fact we will no longer be insulted when our views contrast. We will also come to realize that being different does not make any of us inherently "less than."

In order for any of us to truly be free we must fully accept ourselves and know that we are good enough just as we are, even if others do not always agree. Then our job will not lie in trying to convince other people that we are worthy but, rather, to convince ourselves that we are. Consequently, it is only when we know our true worth, independent of anyone else's opinions of us, will we be empowered and free to be our true selves.

In my past there were certainly times when I expressed my inner most feelings to others, yet was met with a crass lack of compassion. Unfortunately, this made me regret opening up in the first place. I ended up clamming up and pretending as though I was totally unaffected. But this facade did not make me feel any less rejected; it just appeared that way to those around me. I was afraid to let my guard down because that meant feeling vulnerable. But what I didn't realize then was that feeling vulnerable only seemed like a bad thing because I had labeled it so in my mind. You see, when we choose to express how we really feel, at the same time we must also let go of our labels and expectations and just say what's on our minds without fearing how it will be received. Then, and only then, can we truly keep our egos in check and self-esteem intact.

So fast forward to today, I now know that being vulnerable is not a bad thing, nor is it something to fear. It is simply a willingness to be real and fearless in the face of external opinion. But beyond that I have realized that it can never truly be a bad thing to spread love around, even if it is not always reciprocated in kind. After all, can we really be sorry about making others feel good? Can we really regret adding more compassion and love to this world? Our egos might be bruised from time to time but, rest assured, our souls will always survive.

So when I choose to express my truth and all the love that I feel, I no longer weigh the risks to my ego. Instead, I say how I feel knowing that regardless of how others are going to respond, it can never really be a bad thing to express myself in this truthful way. If I have something nice to say, I say it. If I want to express my affections, I express them. And if my feelings are hurt, I let it be known as well.

When we don't edit ourselves through the veil of our ego, that's when we can act without worrying about being judged or rejected. And when we spread more love and generosity around, even with a risk of it not always being reciprocated, we can know that we have still done a positive thing, for the more love and positivity there is in this world, the better off we all are for it.

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