Giving up the Need to Control Outcomes
Being vulnerable has a bad connotation. It often brings images of being open to attack and evokes the desire to protect oneself. The “vulnerable underbelly,” or the “vulnerable left flank,” are references we hear which immediately raise our defenses.
Vulnerability has taken on a whole new definition as I explore what it means to surrender to the natural flow of life. We experience vulnerability as we give up control and the role of being “Large and In-Charge.” We consciously release the outcomes and adopt an attitude of curiosity. Instead of trying to force solutions and insist on our own way, we take responsibility for ourselves and then allow space to wait and wonder what will happen. In this space we are admitting that we don’t have all the answers. We admit that we don’t know everything there is to know (even about ourselves). We see that there are needs in ourselves that we can’t meet and that we may need help. In this vulnerable, risky state, we may feel as though we’re showing our underbelly to the world. We want to protect ourselves from further harm or pain, yet that isn’t always possible.
Learning to show our vulnerable side is deeply challenging for many. It means we have to give up some degree of feeling comfortable and secure. We may not feel confident or sure and that can be disorienting and produce anxiety. For someone who has been hurt and damaged in some way, it’s difficult to trust that pain and suffering won’t come again. It’s hard to let down the walls and trust a world that has proven itself untrustworthy. Once we’ve been hurt, trusting that we can recognize who are the safe people to be open and vulnerable with can be very challenging. Betrayal of trust can be life changing and debilitating. Once the initial pain has subsided there are choices to be made in how to regain trust in a world that has dealt us hard blows. Small steps are the key to rebuilding trust with those closest to us. Building trust with ourselves is even more critical.
It’s hard, so why do it?
One good reason to let the walls down is that it’s exhausting to always be “in-charge”, even if its just “in-charge” of your own life. Statements like “I’ve got this” or “I can handle it on my own” express our need to remain independent and disconnected. Taking care of everything yourself is draining and tiring. When we admit we need help we preserve our own resources by sharing responsibilities. We enjoy the benefits of cooperation and collaboration. Being interdependent with others we trust is simply a more pleasant and relaxing way to be. It allows us to “be” instead of creating an identity around what we do.
Another good reason to be open and vulnerable is that it can be very empowering. When we slow down and listen to our inner voice we learn to trust our own wisdom. Coupling it with trusting that a higher power (no matter what we call it) is working for our good we receive courage to step into the unknown and risk seeing what will happen. We cultivate an attitude of curiosity about our own experience. We find strength in what was once perceived as weakness.
A dear coaching colleague sketched a wonderful visual image recently of a tug of war. When we are trying to force our own solutions, we are holding our end of the rope and pulling hard to make something happen as we want it to. What happens, though, when we drop our end of the rope? When we stop insisting on our way and simply wait to receive inner guidance, we begin to live life in a new way. A receptive, gracious, and flowing way that allows events to unfold, seeing the good, and learning the lessons that are before us.
Giving up control may feel like you are losing personal power. Residing in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar place of not being in charge, however, doesn’t mean you’re giving up. You take responsibility for your own choices and decisions and then observe what the outcome will be. We often get so busy doing the activities of life that we miss the opportunity to observe ourselves. What would it be like to adopt a sense of curiosity and wonder about your life?
You are being empowered every time you listen to your inner wisdom and the guidance of the Divine. This open, vulnerable way of being directs you better than any self help book or expert can. Living from the inside out, instead of the outside in, is powerful and deeply meaningful as we connect with our source of knowing. We can choose to live with the rhythm and flow of life, giving and receiving, interconnected with the Divine, ourselves and others.
The healing that can come from conscious vulnerablity means we no longer having to live in fear. Trusting in ourselves and our spiritual connection builds the foundation we need to engage in life fully and with open arms.