The act of being or seeming vulnerable is associated with so much negativity today that many of us steer away from it, as if being perceived as weak entails a death sentence. We concern ourselves so much with how acts of kindness, compassion, and humility might be abused that we neglect to make use of the very emotions that can grant us the most harmony and success in our life.
The situation isn't made any easier by being immersed in a culture that treats emotion as a mistress -- a dark little secret we enjoy, but must be kept hidden from the light. We appreciate signs of sentiment just so long as they get secluded from the public eye. We show compassion and kindness to people we know, but don't find ourselves too eager to dispense warmth to strangers. These are just some of the distortions that come from perceiving warm feelings as a liability and a weakness.
The truth is, the measure of our strength is most expressed when we expose ourselves to vulnerability. You may ask -- how can something undesirable also be valuable for our well-being? To learn the answer, we should first examine the nature of power and strength. No one doubts that the fruits of power deliver their share of social perks. With strength and power come influence, security, prestige, stature, reputation, etc. Yet, the demonstration of power has its own downside and can prevent one from obtaining their goals. As the author of The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene, once wrote, "Power is always in flux -- since the game is by nature fluid, and an arena of constant struggle, those with power almost always find themselves eventually on the downward swing."
Anything that resembles strength or power can be so intimidating that people naturally resist opening up to it, and as a result, dislike those who possess it. Our society places such a high value on independence that displays of authority can be taken as an insult since one reason we're all considered equal is by virtue of our imperfections. The projection of power can produce many different insecure and insincere reactions from those exposed to it. There may be times when one conveys such an air of authority that people may respond in an unaccommodating manner because they might perceive you as a know-it-all, arrogant, threatening, or self-sufficient enough to not require anyone's help.
As an asset of success, signs of strength have their limitations, and it would be wise to not be so willing to prove our worth every chance we get. It is why, if one desires to fulfill a goal with the assistance of others, one should be as disarming and unassuming as possible. People are always receptive to people's needs when they appear vulnerable. If one is certain of their character and knows how to adjust their attitude accordingly, it will benefit them if they behave as humbly and sincerely as possible.
True strength is exercised when we remove ourselves and our interests out of the circumstance we find ourselves in. It's demonstrated when we restrain any desire from our ego to control the situation. There's a certain level of self-assurance revealed when we place ourselves at the mercy of the unknown. Some people believe that strength is displayed by asserting, defending, and doing all we can do to make the situation go our way. In doing so, they might not be exhibiting strength as much as a form of insecurity and egotism. Insecurity is a disguised form of power because it manifests itself when it feels threatened by what it can't control or understand. This is why explicit acts of dominance rarely gain popular approval.
A humble disposition is the ground from which our true strength arises. As Jesus Christ said, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." To govern oneself with real authority means that we're bold enough to submit our self-rule when treading along unfamiliar ground. It means we're willing to lay bare our true self as the moment demands and not be confined to the self-concept we create for ourselves.
A modest temperament is actually a weapon in our toolbox of ascendance because people are more willing to trust, favor, and comply with someone who isn't so readily concerned with how he or she should be regarded. Far from being a vulnerable trait, if used wisely, a humble attitude clears the way for one to fully appreciate more of life.
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