Although politicians, strategists, and special advisors do their best to control things like the economy, health, geopolitical relations, and the environment, the world appears to be more chaotic, complex, and uncertain for them to ever get things right, for very long. The same is true on a personal level; although we do our best to control our lives, there are many things in life that we cannot control. For instance, we get older, may experience illness, and all of us will eventually die. We may experience moments of self-doubt, helplessness, worry, restlessness, confusion, defensive reaction, and limitation. All of these are moments of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is about the possibility of being exposed to attack or harm. In the case of our wellbeing, vulnerability relates to our body, emotions, mind, our sense of self, and relationships. Vulnerabilities can come from external conditions, as well as from within ourselves and how we relate to the world. The negativity bias in the primitive part of our brain evolved to keep our early ancestors safe from danger. Although still useful, it’s this bias that makes us give greater cognitive and emotional prominence to unpleasant and negative perceptions and experiences than ones that are pleasant. Rather than living with ease, we sometimes find ourselves caught up in difficulties and challenges that we react to with the same habit patterns that no longer serve us. We may feel anxiety and get caught up in worrying thoughts about what could happen, as well as reacting defensively with anger driving thoughts about who is to blame. All of this leads to a state of agitation and stress that reduces our capacity to think clearly and respond skilfully. Alternatively, we may deny that we are feeling vulnerable at all and avoid the thoughts and emotions about a difficulty.