Letter No 93 - The antidote to vulnerability

You will be shocked when you find out what the true meaning of being vulnerable is. Do you want to know? Here is the Oxford dictionary definition:

/ˈvʌlnərəbl/ vulnerable (to somebody/something) weak and easily hurt physically or emotionally to be vulnerable to attack Old people are particularly vulnerable to the flu.

Being vulnerable means being in a position where other people can hurt you!

It often means expressing the sides of yourself about which you have the least confidence or certainty and allowing others to respond to them.

Ouch! Right?

Then why all this big deal about the importance of vulnerability and so on? Why do I want to put myself in positions where I can get hurt? Very important question.


Think of it like this. Imagine you have a weak left knee. Let's say that for some reason the cartilage that lubricates the joint is getting weak. It’s losing its ability to support the movement and pressure and therefore the femur and the tibia are now starting to make contact with each other when extreme pressure is applied. That’s not a good thing because eventually it will cause total knee joint failure and you won't, ever be able to walk again, let alone run or jump. So definitely not good.

The good thing is that this may not happen suddenly. It will happen over a period of time. Initially the damage will be low and if not attended to it will increase at a faster and faster pace. However, it will begin to pain and soon you will visit a doctor or start some treatment.

Imagine now that you were incapable of feeling any pain. Imagine that you were taking some medication that prevented you from feeling any pain at all. You would never know that your knee joint is in failure until probably it is too late.

Pain is a powerful signal from your body to you that something is wrong. Something needs your attention. Something needs either rest, healing, or intervention.

Without pain, we would destroy ourselves rapidly!


Are you getting the point?

Vulnerability is opening ourselves to pain and therefore points us to what within us or in our life needs attention.

Vulnerability is the opposite of taking a permanent painkiller or building a wall of self-defenceand around us. (That too is a useful thing at times and is needed in our life. But not permanently).

Vulnerability allows us to receive the signals that we need to grow and become better, stronger, more loving, more accepting.


But then, is it enough just to have pain?

Some may say yes, if there is pain, I’ll just rest and let that part of my body heal.

100% correct.

But what if you are an athlete and trying to improve your past record? In that case, pain also means there is some part of you that needs to grow stronger. Rest is needed first, but it needs to be followed up with training and nutrition.

You may need a coach, a dietician and maybe even a mentor to help you make the journey to getting that new knowledge and those new skills to ace your own past record.

Hence, pain is good but not enough.

Rest is necessary but not sufficient (one of my favourite lines, used by my Guru Dr Eliyahu Goldratt in his Theory of Constraints).


Recently I was watching a show called ‘Saas, Bahu aur Flamingo’. It’s about a war between fictional drug mafias. In one of the episodes, this mafia don invites his enemies to a meeting. He offers some poisoned food. Obviously, they are smart enough to ask him to eat it first as a test. He eats it and they feel confident. They all eat the food. All of them die, except the don. Why? Because he had the ‘antidote’. As soon as everyone finished their meal, they all began to choke, including the don. But he had asked one of his people to come to him with the antidote as soon as he began to choke. As they were all writhing on the floor, his person rushed to him and pushed the need for the injection with the antidote into his heart and saved him.

So, who can afford to drink poison every now and then? The one who has the antidote!

Who can afford to be vulnerable every now and then? the one who has the antidote!


And what's the antidote to being vulnerable?

No, it's not being defensive. No, it's not being strong. No, it's not being careful. No, it's not hitting back. No, it's not having boundaries.

None of them.

It’s something so simple, so in our faces, that I am not going to give you the answer in this letter.

If you read until here, I’d love for you to give it some thought and share your thoughts with me!

What can make vulnerability a source of power and growth for you?

Looking forward to your thoughts.