We hide from the pain we know instinctively comes with vulnerability. Being vulnerable means being open to life. Being open to life means we take on a degree of risk. You never truly know what’s coming next and there’s a chance it will be painful. But close up, hide, guard yourself against vulnerability and there is no ‘next’.
Vulnerability means we’re unprotected – the soft spot, the underbelly is exposed. But there is a way to stay open and not be annihilated: Identify that soft spot. Study it, weigh it, measure it, sketch its contours. Get to know it and through awareness transform it.
If the soft spot is, for example, fear of being alone, we will cling to others, often when it’s not good for us. Neediness is not attractive, so we can find ourselves alone anyway.
But if we get to know our fear of aloneness, if we dive into it, either by ourselves or with the help of a friend, group or therapist, we can get to the root of that fear. There is nothing inherently wrong with being alone. Periods of solitude can be wonderfully nurturing and enjoyable times of deep connection with self. When that connection with self is made, trust grows and fear diminishes in proportion to our level of trust in life.
We still face potential rejection. Nobody is liked by everyone they meet. And the rejection may still hurt a little. But it won’t hurt so badly that we are driven into a half-life in order to protect ourselves from it. And the spiritual paradox: not being needy is attractive. The less we need people, the more we attract them into our lives.