It has been said that vulnerability is strength; however, this sentiment is largely given by those who do well with emotion, so we see the conflict. Being vulnerable is difficult, and no person knows this as much as those that aren’t emotional. But everyone, emotional or not, biologically understands the reality surrounding emotion: In the animal kingdom, it signals weakness and invites destruction.
Objectively, vulnerability is not strength. If this world were a fair place or an ideal place, perhaps we would be compensated for emotional intelligence and rewarded more than penalized for it, and we know a good portion of our work will be replaced by robots with less emotion than almost any businessperson. We know emotion is not valued highly. We move to: Can there be strength in vulnerability?
I have alluded to my childhood being a train wreck. Specifically, unorthodox. The hitting wouldn’t stop until the crying stopped. Tears were a show of lack of control; we were proof our protector was in control and we were.
What resulted is I didn’t know how to cry. I also looked down on emotion heavily, and gravitated toward people that would bring back the familiarity of my childhood for nostalgia and comfort. Feeling worthless or defective felt better than right, it felt good. In my childhood, no matter what I did, it would still bring instability or rejection; that’s par for the course. I also chose those who were battling out their own familial patterns, as there is a depth brought about by loneliness and pain that is hard to find. But I did more than that, I also became the perpetrator, as we often play out our childhood in many ways. So mindfulness is not just a nice idea, but the well-being of ourselves, others, and by extension, society, depend on our attention and adaptability.
Wanderers are people who have been chewed up and spat out in childhoods of deficiency. They built dream worlds as children to escape – and take these habits into adulthood. But what are dreams and well-thought out theories if we don’t regularly test and refine them against reality? More liability than inspiration. A part of intelligence is application. A part of seeing broadly is seeing the point in detail.
Introspection can easily devolve to hypersensitivity, and overthinking to crises. Balance in all things. To swing from childhoods of rejection to complete acceptance, even of the unacceptable, from no emotion to unbridled emotion — extremism of any form requires a price no society or individual wants to afford.
If you have had a difficult childhood, it is on you to:
1. understand your parents’ childhood, and forgive if you can – it can be easier if you know personality typing
2. recognize where the patterns are playing out, namely by focusing on the childhood section of the Enneagram in a decent book
3. make sure your premises aren’t grounded in confirmation bias, based on your parents’ opinions or your anecdotal evidence
Anecdotal evidence is haphazard and is not a thorough way of filling in knowledge. We’re often wrapped up in experiences we could learn the most from, that it is unlikely we’ll deduce accurately. Experiment with sound theories, but perform the experiment, don’t be the experiment. Test scientifically: methodically, putting aside bias, with relative control.
4. weed out loathing and guilt
5. don’t focus on the bad, but shift habits
6. find balance as best you can, for yourself – between action and thought, between observing and participating, between giving and taking
7. accept that you don’t have to prove your worth — reject emotion that makes you feel that you do
Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligence:
To the original question, is there strength in vulnerability? Interpersonal (reading others) and intrapersonal (understanding yourself) intelligence are important, though not valued by the majority of society. What the majority of society focuses on is logical, linguistic, and existential forms. But that is not to devalue the kinesthetic type (learning by doing) and the emotional types of intelligence, but rather to state that any intelligence by itself is imbalance.
Emotional intelligence in combination with other forms of intelligence provides more well-rounded experiences and insights; therefore, emotion strengthens an argument and living. Balance is great in all arenas.