Whether you are brand new or have been around for a while, recovery can be difficult at times. It can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. These various forms of unease start with physical withdrawal and continue when we find our emotional states hard to manage. They can continue into chronic experiences of shame and guilt. A lot of people trying to get sober will relapse before they even get started due to low tolerance for these emotions. Sometimes the most painful part of recovery is allowing yourself to become vulnerable.
Without vulnerability we do not heal. We can’t find relief if we stay guarded at all times and refuse to shine light onto our darkest areas. Walking through and past active addiction is a process of coming to terms with why you were using alcohol and drugs in the first place. We believe in the spiritual malady of addiction and we believe that our alcoholism and drug addiction are a symptom of the malady we suffer. We believe that recovery is the process of letting go of our default impulse to cope with this malady with drug and alcohol use by replacing it with new thinking and new action.
Not showing our emotions, keeping our thoughts and feelings, hiding our true selves, covering up our mistakes, and running from our fears are all ways in which we avoid vulnerability. Typically all of this effort is too much for us and we seek outside relief to deal. In reality the effort to both manage these strategies and manage our addiction on top of it becomes too much for us. We end up in 12-step meetings, or rehabs, or jails, or dead. What we don’t realize is that we can circumvent this entire futile exercise by surrendering to ourselves and allow vulnerability into our way of operating.
Consider these 7 reasons for why vulnerability is good for you:
- Expressing vulnerability builds satisfaction in relationships! Vulnerability is the foundation on which intimacy, connection, and meaningful communication are built on. Consider the friends or family members to whom you are closest with. What makes these relationships stand out more to you than your others? You feel close to these people because you have allowed them to get close. You have allowed them to experience more of your authentic self than you show to the rest of the world. Vulnerability connect your more to yourself which allows you to connect more authentically to others. You can express deeper empathy and provide more passionate love.
- Showing the real you creates self-acceptance! When you hide who you really are from those around you in an effort to avoid feeling or being vulnerable, you are rejecting you from yourself. Why do we do this? We fear the feeling of rejection from others. Many of us as children experience rejection and it can be painful. Whether from our peers in school or even within our own families. Rejection is part of the human experience. However, some of us will pre-emptively subject ourselves to rejection in an effort to do so before someone else can do to us. When we allow vulnerability into our lives we actively practice self-acceptance which in turn allows us to accept others. This healthier state of being unlocks endless possibilities in our lives.
- Emotional vulnerability is fascinating! Have you ever been around someone and find yourself absolutely captivated by their presence? Have you ever met someone for the first time but felt you have known them for ages? Next time this happens, pay attention to the level of emotional vulnerability they exude. Being honest about our shortcomings, mistakes, and struggles opens us up to others and increases or likeability. Someone who hides these things and only discusses their successes and achievements does not get the same response. Whether consciously or not we human being respond positively to vulnerability. It gives us permission or be ourselves and we find it fascinating when we see it practiced by others. It makes us more interesting to our fellows.
- You are already uncomfortable with yourself! We avoid vulnerability to avoid rejection out of a self-manufactured fear. However, avoiding vulnerability puts our Ego-centered selves in direct conflict with our authentic selves making us far more uncomfortable than if we had just been vulnerable in the first place. So why keep perpetuating this behavior?
- Releasing shame is good for your health! How does shame affect our bodies and health? Countless studies across various fields and disciplines have proved time and time again what we as humans have always known – that we carry trauma, pain, shame, and other lower vibrational emotions in our bodies. Depression, anxiety, fear all have an impact on our physical health. The sicker we are with secrets, judgement, and anger whether for ourselves or for others, the sicker our bodies seem to become. Aging is accelerated and life-threatening diseases start arising. By practicing vulnerability to release shame we are releasing our bodies from being plagued by ailments.
- Vulnerability obliterates shame! Shame needs three elements to survive and grow exponentially: judgement, silence, and secrecy. The fear of rejection reinforces the false belief that these three elements are essential to existing. When we begin to name the sources of our shame, share it with others, and see that we are not alone in our perception – the shame dissolves and fades away. The amazing thing with vulnerability and its effect on shame is that it is quick. With a lot of things in life patience always seems to pay off in bigger dividends. When it comes to vulnerability and shame, we don’t even need to wait. The rewards are instant and powerful. The more we become vulnerable the greater the freedom we achieve from our Ego’s falsehoods and the shroud they keep over our authentic selves.
- Allowing vulnerability means allowing joy! Joy may be one of the most important emotions we can experience and cultivate, especially for those of us in recovery. For many of us joy is experienced in the first time we drink or use alcohol. Most of us start our substance use careers with drinking at a party or smoking marijuana with a group of peers. We experience feeling a part of and experience the excitement of doing something new and perhaps taboo. These feelings are in their own way joyful in a manufactured way. So when we get sober and enter recovery it is important that we experience these same positive emotions we once associated with substance use only in a much deeper, more meaningful, more authentic way. Allowing for ourselves to be vulnerable with others and in new situations creates space for us to experience real joy. Not the quick hit of shallow joy we experienced in our youth with substances but rather a more profound joy that we as humans are built to behold.