Letting Yourself Be Vulnerable

I’ve been listening to many Tara Brach podcasts in the past few days. I find her descriptions of the inner workings of people extremely insightful and true. She uses ideas of Buddhism to understand and explain human emotion and action, and how we can relate to ourselves and one another.

One very interesting thing that she talks about is how we all build scales, to protect ourselves. And it all comes from vulnerabilities and fears — the fear of not being accepted, not being loved, not feeling worthy or deserving of love, etc. And she talks about how we do not allow the love of others to come in because of these fears.

With inspiration of her discussions, I tried to open myself up to someone recently. I definitely did. I was able to go one layer down and reveal the first layer of my vulnerabilities, which I have never done before. But I also realized that there were other layers that I had not reached and had not opened up.

It’s shocking to me how even at times where we have the intention to be very direct, open and honest with someone, we actually are not 100% honest. We still do not reveal the very, very deep workings of our psyche. The very deep and sometimes shameful vulnerabilities that we ourselves have difficulty facing. Even my most honest self, is still withdrawn and scared.

What is it that we’re so scared of? Why is the fear of being rejected and unloved so frightening and powerful? Why do we allow these emotions to control us so? And how can we ever establish truly meaningful relationships if everyone is always pretending that they are stronger and better than they really are? Don’t we all have to let go a little?

Something else I struggle with is what I actually touched upon in a previous post, the struggle of knowing that something is wrong, analyzing it correctly, and expressing it as such, only to later fear that I may have made a mistake or that I have been hurtful. Although my desire to never hurt anyone’s feelings is very strong, I also know that my assessments of and feelings about situations are fairly accurate. And if something doesn’t feel right to me, it probably isn’t right. And that is not something I should regret. I think this mainly has to do with self-confidence and having the assurance of knowing that what I feel, cannot be wrong. Ideas can be wrong. Judgements can be wrong. But feelings, no. You can never tell yourself that what you are feeling is unreal or insignificant. If it exists, if it’s there, there is a reason for it and we have to learn to trust that.

What I do based upon those feelings are still open to discussion. How we react to situations is definitely something that we all can work on. But I think how we feel about them should not be questioned.

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Don’t Give Hurt Back

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“Now I can see that I bring out the worst in you. Let me just help you to not say something that you’re just going to torture yourself about for years to come.” You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Be who you want to be, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes we get emotional, we get hurt, we get frustrated. We want to point out the faults in others. We want them to understand how much they’ve hurt us, and maybe even pay for their mistakes. Although it seems attractive, it won’t make you happy. It won’t give you what you want and it won’t make anyone have an epiphany and change. But it may hurt their feelings, and then you end up being the same.

I used to think that not opposing the wrongdoings of others made me weak and foolish. I used to think that it meant being taken advantage of. I felt it a duty to present a mirror to them, make them face themselves, and the dark sides of that self.

But then I realized that no one wants to know. And no one is going to change unless they want to. And if that does happen, it will something internal for them and not something that you initiate. And in trying to show the shortcomings of others and make them face it, I realized that I was being judgmental, defensive and mean. But I don’t want to be that person, I am not that person.

Does being kind and forgiving and loving only apply when others treat us the same way? Of course not. If we truly are the kind people we claim to be, we have to be kind even to those who are not kind to us, no matter what they have done and how much they have hurt us.

This is not weakness. This does not mean that you have to give yourself up to that person. It doesn’t mean you have to be with them or do as they say. You still decide how that person will be in relation to you. You still prevent them from hurting you again. But without hatred or anger, without giving hurt back.

It can be extremely difficult to accomplish this. I’m still working on it. When we are very emotional and sensitive, it is difficult to think straight. You may not get it right the first time around. If you don’t, it’s okay. Apologize and move on. I never feel small by apologizing. If I make a mistake, I will own up to it. I will say sorry, and I will move on.

Listen to this: http://www.tarabrach.com/audio/2011-10-19-Divine-Abodes–Compassion-TaraBrach.mp3 

The Battle of Heart and Mind

Sometimes, we walk away from something even though it is difficult to do so. Sometimes we do it hoping that we’ll find ourselves back there once again in a wishfully not too distant future. And sometimes we do it knowing that it’s the only way, and nothing else was ever meant to be.

Have you followed your heart and regretted having done so?

 

The heart is always right, I once thought,

Wise in a way I don’t understand.

Sending signs of a beautiful future,

That is only waiting for me to take a step.

 

Oh how I have followed my heart,

And bended and groveled, and threw myself at its mercy…

How I’ve rushed to its wants and desires and treaded on its heels abidingly,

Believing that it would take me to where I needed to be. 

 

But the fickle heart carries no wisdom at all.

It runs and chases and gets carried away.

A brittle leaf on a rapid stream, unaware and uncaring.

Invincible it feels, but oh so severely it breaks,

Into millions of pieces, large and small.  

But learn, it does not.

Who but the heart has such audacity,

To get hurt willingly again and again?

 

The mind on the other hand, he has wisdom.

Free of enslaving whimsies and emotions that disease the heart,

You can count on your mind to give you sound advice.

Careful and thoughtful it treads.

Measuring and calculating, it does.

It plans, and plans, and plans.

 

The mind with its realities and analyses

Battles the unreliable craze that is the heart.

High and drugged on romantic thrills,

It pleads and nudges you to ignore your mind. 

 

Whoever wins the battle, you become.