Why is it important to be vulnerable? And why we often shy away from this important aspect of human existence?
Since childhood we are often surrounded by people who, not owing to any fault of their own, tend to judge our most tender emotions, feelings and also our deepest needs and desires.
Over a period of time the child starts to suppress and hide these. When his or her emotions and needs cause too much distress in the primary caregivers, the child learns to not share or be open. To keep a straight and brave face in the midst of grown ups who cannot handle themselves leave alone children, is then the only escape or defense left. The child grows up with a closed heart, afraid to show the tender self, which is often judged as weakness or inconsistent or frivolous.
Then there is the intense paranoia among human beings to look for instant feel good options. To make things alright when they are really not is a disease that human kind suffers from even without knowing they do.
When a baby cries, the whole household jumps up into intense activity to stop the child from wailing. Why because the sound of crying is disturbing and jarring? So the baby is held and rocked, or a bottle stuffed into its mouth or we Indians have another lovely way we rock the child and make noises “aaaa aaaa nanana rona mat roo nahi….”
Then if none of this helps then we take the baby out and show him the beautiful world of trees, sky and birds. Why not try staying still and calm and peaceful with the energy of the crying baby without the desire for making it stop crying but with the true intention of understanding what the cause of distress could be. Allow the child. Of course sometimes it is hunger, lack of sleep or simple lack of intimacy of a warm body….it could be all of this, one of this or none of this…But do we have the patience to endure this?
Our endurance for human suffering is very limited. We want to stop ourselves and others form crying from grief or discomfort. We do not allow ourselves to feel our feelings when they arise. Our parents, friends and partners do not make it easier either. Since they too are suffering form the same incapability to endure emotions.
I have all my life led myself to go from one event to another without pausing to allow myself to breathe and rest. I have not allowed my heart to recuperate from past traumas and heart breaks. I have not allowed myself to learn about me. I have not allowed the wounds to heal with time and patience. To stop myself from crying and hurting, to stop myself from being alone, I have jumped into the next best thing, the next best relationship, venture, job, aim…
And each time I have carried the baggage of the past which remained unresolved, into the next…to create more baggage.
Kabir says, “is jeevan pe kya kya beeta, sir pe bhaari bhoj uthaya….”
Now when I love I love totally, allow myself to feel the depth of my own vulnerability, it reveals two things to me. How I get drawn to people who either praise me to the sky or those who criticize me to the hell? One uses praise to control the other criticism to control. And I allow all this because this is the aspect of duality that we all carry within us. The eternal struggle of love and hate….but both lead to pain.
As long as we are under the delusion that the other is causing me pain and controlling me, we keep on suffering in cyclic existence. Instead allow the heart to be deceived, hurt, loved, cared for, nurtured. Allow your heart to recuperate, since you did nothing wrong in going out and offering yourself. Feel the pain, the love, the ecstasy, the longing. Longing has to be allowed for real love to emerge.
We are eternal children seeking attention for our emotions and feelings. Negative attention or positive attention. Anything will do. But each one of us are crying within ourselves to the world…..”please for once look at me and listen to my aching heart, listen to my dreams and aspirations, pay heed to who I am.. and not who you want me to be?” But now there is no one to listen, be your own parent.
And then help your children to be vulnerable. Allow them the privilege of understanding the root of their emotions and feelings. Honour them for their emotions. Stay with them when they come to you with a broken heart, do not give sermons and give advice or judge their actions. Just hold the child and say it is alright to be hurt and angry and feel longing. Share with them your sadness, hurts and pain and joy.
I wish I was just held me when my first love affair did not work out. Instead I was told, “your are too young for a love affair and reprimanded me and shamed me.” And subsequently I did this to myself. The voice of your parent is there in your head making you feel guilty for the choices that do not work. And this is what we project on others who do not know what hit them!!
Let your parenting be not just black and white but introduce the colour grey and red and blue and green even mix them up. Because with exposing oneself to one’s own vulnerability comes great pain first and then liberation and freedom from our own self-created suffering…..It is the only way to pierce the veil of illusion, that something better is waiting out there…It is the only way to transform one’s perspective of the world as one sees it….
Remember the song in Dev Anand’s Guide, “Yeha kaun hai tere musafir jayenga kaha….”
Khud se bahar kahi nahi jaa sakte….