Understanding The Difference Between Vulnerability and Invulnerability
“What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
Vulnerability can often be seen as a weakness in our culture. This may be in part due to the individualism that capitalist economies encourage. Although vulnerability has been defined as “being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally,” our understanding of this concept has changed. Vulnerability allows us to connect with others and express our feelings and needs; it is about showing up and being seen.
When a person expresses vulnerability and is shut down, they may face embarrassment
and guilt. No wonder many of us have our walls up. In addition, when someone is repeatedly criticized and bullied, they are likely to construct defenses against emotion. Their identity becomes imbued with shame, blocking any opportunity for openness and genuine connection. Shame hinders vulnerability and makes us less likely to have self-compassion or empathy for others. Over time, this becomes a pattern, and people learn to cut off their emotions and live with their defenses up.
Invulnerability can be described as a state of equanimity, a way of being filled with self-compassion that protects us in the face of others opinions, gossip, or offensive actions. With acceptance and non judgment, we can practice invulnerability; we accept the good and bad of life. Invulnerability is like constructing a solid internal world that cannot be hurt or damaged by outside attacks. It is about protecting our core from the inside out so that it cannot be injured by an external assault.
Healthy invulnerability grows out of our ability to be soft in our hearts, allowing feelings for ourselves and others. It is about feeling secure and confident as we walk through the world, having strong internal boundaries that protect us from the projections of others. Both vulnerability and invulnerability are necessary for a healthy balance and for genuine connection with others.