This is a guest post written by Therapeutic Counsellor Jo Dampier. Check out their website and instagram for more information!
The more I think about my work and my clients, the more I find beauty in vulnerability. This isn’t to say that I enjoy my clients (or myself, for that matter) feeling this way, as I know it can be difficult, painful, and even shameful, but I do encourage clients to acknowledge it and to embrace it and I do try to contain it and bear it with them. I believe that fighting feelings of vulnerability, even though we may not be aware that we are doing so, shuts off our abilities to be fully-feeling humans.
How am I to know that I am fighting something if I’m not aware of it? Good question! I often observe clues in the ways that a client speaks or behaves that show an uncomfortable feeling, but perhaps they cannot put a finger on it. Some clients are extremely resistant, with good reason – it is simply too painful to unearth troubling feelings, they may feel weak or out of control. Perhaps we can all feel that if we can control what we’re thinking about, we remain in control of our emotions, and that feels safe.
Yet, how honest are we being with ourselves? How can we value our ‘selves’ and our efforts? These bigger questions, often unasked because of not wanting to face difficult, uncomfortable feelings, need to be addressed. The importance that has been placed on being your true self through your life is key – has this been encouraged by parents, friends, partners – or have you been encouraged to be someone or something that you’re not? We all put on a mask at times – maybe when we’re feeling more vulnerable – and it can so easily stick. However, when that mask feels uncomfortable and we recognise it conflicting with our real or authentic self underneath, perhaps we have found it too easy to become someone we’re not. How invested are we in our image and reputation? What would it be like to go back to basics and spend some time thinking: Who am I? What type of person am I? Can I like myself? Am I true to myself? Therapy can help to address these types of questions and lead to important insight and understanding.
We are all vulnerable at any given time, in any given situation. We can feel raw, sensitive, and fragile. Perhaps these feelings can be just about ok, when put into context and when understanding begins to come. Perhaps, an awareness of where these feelings originate and what situations are likely to trigger feeling this way is enough to lead to an acceptance that at times, life will be difficult and I will feel vulnerable. And vulnerability is one part of our whole being, which is why I believe it deserves to be embraced.
For me, beauty comes with an honest approach to who we are and to knowing ourselves better, even when it is painful, and I am extremely privileged to see some of this in my work. To me, there is strength in vulnerability and in the struggle to become our true selves.
Thank you Jo Dampier for contributing this post!