If you look back at the key times in your life when you really did something that helped your self confidence, you may find that it was a time when you had to confront your own sense of vulnerability. The article below looks at how we can mindfully approach our vulnerability on three levels, each of which enables us to grow our self confidence consistently.
I have a related workshop coming up on Sat 27th June for those in Singapore who may be interested – Mindful Self-Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through meditation & mindfulness
In the spirit if confident vulnerability,
Vulnerability – The feeling that we are threatened or at risk in some way.
Will people like the work I do? Am I attractive enough? What if I take a chance and the person says no, or even laughs of acts repulsed by what I do? What if I look foolish? What if they think I’m too old? We can feel vulnerable in many and varied ways in our life. What are the times, places and scenarios you meet that tend to trigger it most strongly? (Pause here for a moment if you like and sit with the question).
If we have a bad relationship with our sense of vulnerability, then it can undermine our quality of life and self confidence. If we cultivate a mindfully positive relationship with vulnerability then it can help us develop our self-confidence and playful creativity every time it arises. When vulnerability ceases to be a problem, we start to thrive on the possibilities that it offers us.
We will look at dealing with vulnerability on three levels; coping, accepting and thriving.
At this fist stage we feel vulnerable, but we ‘shut it out’ temporarily so that it does not sabotage what we are trying to do. Let’s say I am about to give a talk to a group of people, I feel nervous and vulnerable. To cope with this I ‘block’ the feelings of vulnerability and focus on something I can control; my awareness of my body, the lines I have rehearsed and so on. By temporarily blocking in this way I am able to deliver my speech with basic competence without my vulnerability sabotaging me. Like this we learn to cope with our vulnerability.
With this second stage we are able to open to and accept our feelings of vulnerability such that they do not sabotage our actions, we can open to and breathe with our vulnerability, relaxing into it. To take the example of giving a speech; as I stand before my audience I am able to accept my vulnerability as I stand there without having to block it out. This then enables me to open to the attention of the audience, gain a sense of where they are at and flow with the experience of giving a speech in a way that offers greater personal enjoyment and self-confidence. It also enables me to extend greater empathy and attention to my audience and perhaps give a better speech than I would have done if I was merely ‘coping’ with my vulnerability.
At this third stage we are at a level of working with our vulnerability where the sense of the risk that we are taking is comfortable to us. When we sense our vulnerability we become excited by the creative possibilities in our situation. We are relaxed enough to improvise and thrive off the opportunity of our vulnerability. In the example of the giving the speech, as I stand before my audience I feel excited by the uncertainty of what will happen, I feel confident to enough to speak from the heart and/or to ad-lib as appropriate. I feel open and conscious of the energy and attention of my audience and thrive on working with it consciously. Vulnerability has ceased to be a problem and has become an opportunity to thrive, to grow and to become more self confident within myself.
If we know what these three levels of working with vulnerability are, then a different times and in different situations we can use whatever level feels appropriate. If we are not feeling super confident, then we can focus on coping. When we are more relaxed we can try practice accepting. As we develop our competence and confidence we can gradually set our intention to work with level three – thriving.
Block, accept or thrive. Which area of your own life could you start mindfully working with the three levels of vulnerability today?
© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in May:
Wednesday, June 24th 7.30-9pm – Integral Meditation Session @ Basic Essence – Meditating on benevolence & inner wealth
Saturday 27th June 9.30am-12.30pm – Mindful Self-Confidence – Developing your self-confidence, self-belief & self-trust through meditation & mindfulness
Saturday 27th June, 2.30-5.30pm – The Call of the Wild–Meditations for Deepening Your Inner Connection to the Animal Kingdom and the Green-world