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Why Vulnerability Is So Necessary (Especially If You're Afraid Of It)

Jennifer Dopierala
Written by Jennifer Dopierala

It took me many years to say I was a healer. There is so much stigma attached to the word, as well as skepticism. This, along with my aversion to criticism, kept me carefully hiding from success. For me, becoming a healer was a slow process of putting myself out there one baby step at a time. I wanted to remain hidden, yet be successful at the same time, and I was frustrated when it didn't work that way.

I've been so comfortable "seeing" my clients and helping them become vulnerable. And I've been so uncomfortable with being seen beyond my small bubble of friends and family. Every time I took out an ad, created a website, wrote a blog post, or gave a workshop, I had to work directly with my fear. Getting pictures for my website was exhausting. And forget about writing for MindBodyGreen: it took 3 days for my nervous system to recover from my first article about my depression.

Another part of my resistance came from the cultural expectation that anyone in a healing art has to have their sh*t together, which often means putting up a careful veneer of perfection. Being professional somehow means you've figured it all out, and yet we are all still on the journey. In fact, I believe that so many of us are in this profession because of our own need for healing, and we see how the healing has benefitted our lives. I have been afraid of letting people see that I am not perfect.

We're starving for authenticity in this culture. This precious life is about becoming fully human, and accepting all that we are. We need people who are willing to share their experiences and to show us how they are taking steps toward this self-love. I greatly value and encourage vulnerability, and yet I've only allowed it in intimate settings with those I trust.

But trust becomes something that we choose in order to progress in our journey. As we open ourselves to vulnerability, we begin to choose trust, rather than wait for someone else to earn it. It becomes a gift we give to ourselves. Most of us are very guarded, and keep ourselves carefully protected with the myth that we won't get hurt this way.

Yet the hurt is there, no matter how many layers we have over our hearts. Whether or not we choose to feel it, and whether or not it's in our conscious minds, it's in our energy and we are informed by it. Vulnerability allows us to feel when we are hurt; it doesn't open ourselves up to it more.

When we feel vulnerable, we can work with our vulnerability. And when we work with it, the hurt usually informs us and we can move on with the wisdom we've received. We become trusting of ourselves and our ability to heal, rather than putting our trust in other people, that they will behave within a certain expectation of what we consider acceptable. We begin to let go of needing other's behavior to bring us healing.

And how do I work with the fear of my growing success? Rather than contracting, I visualize making more space in my body. I allow. I breathe. I've worked with my beliefs and fears around being seen. More than once. I focus on how my work can help people. And I accept the possibility of not being liked, which ultimately sets me free.

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