Vulnerability has many different connotations, for some people it may be when we:
- haven’t got adequate protection around us or mechanisms in place to protect our physical or emotional wellbeing i.e. family support;
- are extremely susceptible, which can be reflected in our individual capacity to cope or deal with stuff;
- are physically or psychologically weakened, which can inhibit our ability to resist illness and failure(hardship?)
As blokes we are often referred to as being ‘stoic’ (ignoring our vulnerability) often toughing it out and getting the job done. One characteristic of Stoicism is, ’as humans we must accept suffering as part of human existence’. We have all heard the saying ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’ and we have all felt the harsh reality of this statement through the various hardships and challenges we endure in our lives. Whether we have suffered a serious health issue, cared for a sick or aging family member, financial stress, feelings of being trapped/isolated or alone or even the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all challenged at some stage.
I put this into context by the belief that quite often there are no rules as to why some things happen in life i.e. losing a job, having a partner or wife leave us, or getting sick. We can spend a lot of time questioning, why did this happen to me? When in fact the only explanation is that sometimes ‘shit just happens’. A stoic view would strengthen our ability to endure the ups and downs of life, however unfair and cruel they may be. Sometimes as a lot of blokes do, we just get on with it.
When we look in the rear-view mirror during these times of hardship, do we realise that there is an opportunity to do something different that can help us utilise the individual capacity we are all born with to survive and thrive? For us blokes it often means we need to make an effort and change the way we think to get through these tough times. Some of these changes may include:
- connecting more with loved ones or friends (relationships take time and effort);
- taking time to read, relax, watch a movie, write, paint, make music, garden, sort old photos (develop that passion and interest); and
- allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.
It’s that latter point ‘allowing ourselves to be vulnerable’ that encapsulates the often underdeveloped, underutilized and still scorned part of a bloke’s DNA. As Brene Brown states in her book Rising Strong ‘Vulnerability is not about winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage’.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is an empowering experience, it gives us permission to feel pain, fear or grief giving perspective to our own life journey. It can help us deal with stuff in a more realistic way, perhaps even to find and live with a solution. Take care.
Owen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277