Light in my Shadow

It’s Okay To Be Vulnerable (It Means You’re Strong and Brave)

Learning to be vulnerable is such a beautiful, raw and real thing – and it can be the scariest thing in the world. It means being brave enough to take our masks off. Masks that our cultural system programs us to wear from birth.

We wear masks because we worry what others might think of us.

We wear masks of pride, that stop us from saying when we’re wrong. Many of us wear masks that say, “I’m okay – I don’t need any love/help/advice/support”.
So many of us still wear this mask even when we’ve got sirens screaming inside – I did it.
Often we can’t take them off, because they’ve been stuck on our persona for so long we don’t even realise it is a mask.
Be vulnerable
Showing our vulnerable side is unpopular in our society, because we don’t want anyone to see us as having flaws, or being perceived as ‘less than’, or ‘weak’. And I’ll just chuck in some brutal truth – it’s killing us. Especially our men, which I talk about further in this post. This shit needs a overhaul, because the old way is clearly not working.
I’m gonna make a call that over the next years and decades, showing your vulnerable side is gonna make a beautiful and inspirational comeback – because in a healthy society, it has to.
When you learn to be vulnerable, you inspire other people to let down their guards.
Showing your vulnerable side encourages others to feel safe to take off their masks to show the person underneath who hurts and fears. And this is what we need more of in our world.
In my old life – before rock bottom – I was fine with being vulnerable about some things, but terrible with others.
For example, I’ve never had a huge problem with pride. I’ve never had a problem opening up to people about my childhood wounds and the damage I carried because of them. Sure I was probably blind drunk, but I was still pretty good with opening up.
But in other areas, the masks I wore were firmly stuck on my face. In regards to my addictions and the mess I created, I never asked for help. I never knew I was drowning until it was too late, and then I was drowning in such deep water that I couldn’t tell anyone how bad it was.

Fast forward a few years - during my rock bottom.

I don’t remember much about this part of my life (the mind does weird things to wipe away the darkest parts of our journeys), but I do know I cracked into my vulnerable side a little here. I was very open about the massive pile of shit I’d created with my addictions.
But to be honest, more than engaging in ‘conscious vulnerability’, I think I was in some kind of mental breakdown mode. This part of my life was a blend of mania and great darkness which is a potent recipe for weird and wacky.
I was trying to be honest with my friends and family. I tried to put words to the mess that I was in, even when I hadn’t worked it all out myself. Social media becomes a strange place when you’re in this headspace of just posting shit. I was mentally, verbally and emotionally broken and I was palpably aware that it showed. Good Lord *cringe*.

Fast forward another two years. After discovering mindful drawing.

Here my crazy haze began to lift. I began activating layers of benefits from my mindful drawing practice, and I was beginning to fix my shit. I was becoming whole again.
Finally I became connected to real vulnerability, firstly, on Instagram. I did this by writing about my transformational journey. All of it – from nightmare old me, to the person I was becoming.
By now I had the self-awareness to observe the process of being vulnerable. I felt the fear that comes with it.
Every time I wrote the HARDEST STUFF – about my monster addictions, about stealing to fund my addictions, my mental health damage and rock bottom – it was so scary to write. But it was cathartic – it was freeing for me.

And the reason I write – it was same then as it is today – is to help others like me who are going through suffering now.

Every time I embraced being vulnerable, and I got so much love back. But most importantly I got love back for myself. I know I inspired others to be vulnerable with own hurt, inner chaos and healing – because they would tell me.
I think it’s beautiful if you can help someone by sharing your journey. It’s so brave to step up to say WE ARE NOT PERFECT. Because FUCK those toxic illusions of perfection – we are real feeling, struggling humans who are trying to navigate this world the best we can – and we make plenty of mistakes. And this is how we grow.
Image credit: @thecosmicfeminist

Being vulnerable is also really important when we’re wrong.

We need to be vulnerable to say sorry and own our shit. We tap into vulnerability when we say, “I don’t know”.
Without vulnerability we’re not able to to explain why we got triggered, or why we reacted the way we did. We stay closed and small.
Being vulnerable means opening ourselves up in the hardest way – but in a way that’s right. To have walls up and not be able to say sorry, or explain why we did the wrong thing, is sad, but it’s also toxic. It’s what creates barriers between ourselves and others. All because our pride (which is just a learned program) got in the way.

I get really inspired when I see men open up and be vulnerable.

There’s a lot of healing that needs to be done in this area. I salute and cheer when men talk about their emotions and mental health struggles, because these are the men who will show the others that THIS IS THE WAY.
This idea that being vulnerable is weak or ‘unmanly’ is nothing but a bullshit lie passed down in our toxic societal culture.
This is where so much progress is needed – because it is killing our men. It’s gradually changing – because the statistics show us it MUST change. And for the rest of us? Consciously open up safe spaces for people to express their vulnerability.

Being brave and vulnerable gets activated in your mindful drawing practice in a few ways.

Growing self-love is the BIG GUY here because it’s so damn powerful. It enables other benefits to kick in, like a commitment to authenticity and integrity to yourself, which means opening up, and peeling back the layers of protection and showing YOU.
You also care less what others think of you. We’re not kids in school anymore – at this stage we don’t care about being judged or teased. Just whack a boundary in and say “seeya” – and we remove our attention from it.

We begin to see that there is power in our voice.

We have a growing fire to be of use our stories to help others who are in pain. And that often means sharing the real bits – the parts that caused you the most pain – because that’s not you anymore.
Tapping into your vulnerability takes practice.
It takes bravery.
Maybe the fear never goes away. Maybe it does I’m not sure, but either way it doesn’t matter – we know that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.
Mindful drawing teaches us to connect with the part of ourselves that feels the fear – and we do that thing anyway. We know it’s how we expand. We don’t shrink anymore FOR ANYONE.
Showing your vulnerable sides opens a beautiful door to human connection to another, with masks off. Whether it’s a partner, a friend, someone on social media, or at work – when the context is right and your intuition is telling you to open up? GO IN. Be that real person who is brave enough to take the armour off.

Being vulnerable is an action we take in order to create a better world. It’s safe to shine now. It’s safe to be you. We need ALL of you – especially the most vulnerable parts. They’re the parts I think are most beautiful.