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Christina McDonald

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Christina McDonald

November 2019

Embracing Vulnerability


Being vulnerable is not something we want to do, nor is it easy to accept. I struggled to conceal many of my innate vulnerabilities for years and always felt like I would be ‘exposed’ as someone who is not good enough somehow. We spend a lot of time hiding what we perceive to be our vulnerabilities as we don’t want other people to see who we really are, but that is actually the best part. The parts we hide actually are one of the best gifts we can give to the world. When we embrace our vulnerabilities, we are in fact taking steps to become more authentic individuals.

But why can it be so hard to be vulnerable?

We fear that the negative things we believe about ourselves are a fact. I think it is this fear, that by revealing our core wounds, we run the risk of having them torn open again by feeling rejected, humiliated and judged for being who we really are but in fact the opposite is true.

When we let the light of our awareness penetrate our pain, we allow ourselves to be fully whole, which means we fully validate our emotional experience. The happy and difficult times are all a part of our story and being vulnerable is a strength which transforms us into our true individuality.

Why is there a tendency to see vulnerability as a weakness?

It is actually quite beautiful to be vulnerable. We are revealing those parts of us that we may keep as intimate secrets to ourselves for many years but for what reason?

Embarrassment? Shame? Fear of judgement?

Whatever negative reason it is, it is not based on anything valid. The protective self wants to ensure that you are safe from harm and of course, as we know, the unconscious mind can make mistakes in its calculations. When we embrace ourselves as a whole which includes our light and dark side, we are saying yes to our humanity. It’s OK to be human and we don’t have to have everything figured out. I remember once being shouted at by a conductor in an orchestra during a rehearsal because I couldn’t play a very difficult rhythm correctly. He made me play it over and over as a solo in front of my colleagues (about 150 people) and kept saying ‘no’, with look of stern dissatisfaction on his face, until he was happy with it and this was incredibly humiliating for me. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.

The whole orchestra had to wait for me to get it right (which I eventually did after a few minutes but what it felt like was an eternity. I’m sure they were glad it was me and not them that had been singled out!) It was then I realised that I wasn’t perfect, nor did I want to achieve perfection. I wanted to shout out angrily in front of everyone ‘I’m not perfect!’ and walk out, but luckily, I didn’t. I soldiered on and tried to play the music the way he wanted it. Not long after that awful day, I decided to leave the orchestral world for a situation that would allow me to be flawed.

I have lost count of the number mistakes I have made, but truth be told, as long as you learn from those mistakes, there is always a positive gain. Perfection is an illusion. None of us are perfect, and it is the imperfections which make life truly beautiful. We don’t need to be flawless to be acceptable to other people. The real question is – do WE accept our flaws? That is what is truly important.

Can we be truly honest with ourselves and embrace our vulnerabilities? Can we stand up and say yes to ourselves? The good and not so good?

It’s all valid. You are not able to be vulnerable if you feel as though you should be ashamed or embarrassed of yourself. As someone who has gone through rigorous amounts of humiliating experiences in her life, all I can say is that exposure therapy works. The more ‘maxed out’ I became with feeling embarrassed in these kinds of situations, the easier it became to be vulnerable. I had become resilient and it was only by going through the fire that I became strong enough to be vulnerable by embracing the mistakes I made.

Recently, I published a book which was actually a really hard step as I had to talk about a lot of deep-seated issues that went right back to childhood and finding the courage to be vulnerable was not easy. Somehow, writing a book made it seem very real and that was one of the reasons I think I held back from publishing for such a long time. I was telling a story about my personal journey, which meant that there was nowhere to hide. Sometimes the most worthwhile and rewarding path may not be the easiest choice and talking about issues that were highly personal to me meant confronting the truth about my past and the nature of my upbringing. When you actually look directly at these issues, it has the potential to open up the wound again, and it really did hurt to admit and accept certain truths to myself.

Being vulnerable and saying ‘Yes, this is what I experienced, and this is who I am today’ is one of the most empowering and liberating things I have done. Releasing myself from the emotional chains of my past has enabled me to say yes to my future. Telling my story actually made it easier to accept and move through rather than keeping it bottled up as if it was something to be ashamed of.

There was never any need to be afraid of being honest with myself, but for some reason, I felt a lot of shame as if I were defective somehow for feeling different in comparison to everyone else. What I have learned is that it is those differences that make us unique. Every one of us has something to say and it is our experiences and growth as human beings which can shape the lives of other people and is a source of inspiration.

It wasn’t until I studied Cognitive Hypnotherapy that I learned how to become more vulnerable and embrace every aspect of myself. I realised that I wasn’t actually being myself completely because I was not in touch with the deepest parts of myself. Being authentic was a concept in my mind until I started training with Quest. Now, living authentically is a reality because I accepted who I am, which includes all my flaws, strengths and weaknesses. Our journey encompasses all aspects of who we are as people.

This was something that was a natural part of the learning process and in my growth as a person. From my experience as an artist and working through the creative process, there is no such thing as making a mistake. That is just another part of the performance. Being vulnerable is a part of being human. Showing your humanity can only reveal the beauty in your own unique truth. People need to see your fragility to know that it is OK to be who you are. That can only be a good thing. Say yes to you (all of you!)