Sharing Our Vulnerabilities

Listening to a conversation recently I became aware of just how self-indulgent we can become in sharing experiences of personal woundedness. The temptation to portray these experiences as egocentric badges of recognition is a pretty strong one. Celebrities are especially good at this with their added little condiments of embellishment.

I remember an age of suppression and concealment when you never spoke of such things. Now, you simply blurt them out announcing them in the neon lights of life to all and sundry. Strange how we even make our woundedness serve our egotistical needs.

I suppose the truth lies somewhere between the two,  mixed with a great big dollop of congruence, sincerity and discretion.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Discernment, inspiration, Letting go of Ego, Life, Relationships, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Sharing Our Vulnerabilities

  1. While I agree with you that we leave in the times of exhibitionism, I am not bothered by it that much. It is a very alien urge to me because I am completely opposite – fiercely guiding my privacy. It is interesting to look at the other side – those that reveal too much – and investigate their motives. Yes, it may be self-serving or egotistic, but it is often a cry for help.
    I heard James Hillman say recently that we are all scandals. We all have our secrets…
    Your posts always make me reflect. Thank you.

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    • Don says:

      Monika, I love those words of Hillman, “…we are all scandals.” So true. Yes, I agree with you, it can often be a cry for help. I must say that I identify with your particular disposition. I suppose I speak out of that same approach. Perhaps that’s why I interpret it the way I do.

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  2. josna says:

    Don, again and again you cause me to reflect on my own behavior, and in the gentlest and most timely fashion. I just took up early an hour of a friend’s precious time when we met up accidentally in the supermarket, bending her ear about my problems. I would like to think that it was mutual, that she too was able to share her own struggles, and that I would have picked up on any signs of impatience, but what if she was so considerate and empathetic that she took care not to display such signs even though she was busy? What you say about congruence and discretion rings true. Sometimes it is appropriate to share, sometimes it is–as they say nowadays–TMI (too much information). Thank you. Josna

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    • Don says:

      I’m sure it was mutual Josna, especially if she was a friend of yours. You’re so right – I think it is a question of being able to discern when it is appropriate to share and when not to, as well as how much. Thank you for your kind words.

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  3. josna says:

    Typo: I meant that I took up “nearly” an hour of my friend’s time…

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  4. ptero9 says:

    Don, there is a lot to think about here. Where is the line between saying so much that it seems your wounds own you, compared to complete withholding? We all wrestle with this, or should.
    I like to think that I am transparent, but only to a point. Some things need to be reserved for more intimate settings and perhaps shared for the right reasons.
    I absolutely agree with you that there is a level of self-indulgence in the culture around woundedness, as if for some of us they have become a badge of honor.
    It took me many years to realize that I was hurting myself by spending so much time and energy on “who I am,” that is better spent on engaging the world of people, ideas, and doing my best to bring healing between myself and others, especially those I had wounded. That is work enough. But, I do feel compassion for those who aren’t ready to move on, for I once too, spent way to much time there.
    Thank you for this great post!

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Debra. So enjoyed your comment. I suppose as long as we feel that tension of the line between saying too much and withholding, we’re on the right track. I really like what you say about a kind of cautious transparency and more intimate settings.

      I know something of what you mean in spending too much time working on “who I am.” I also did this and got lost in a world of obsessive introspection. Not a good place to be. Thanks for the compassionate reminder.

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  5. nrhatch says:

    I tend to keep my problems to myself because when the cease to be problems (as they will at some point), I don’t want to have to bring everyone “up to speed.”

    If someone wants to share problems with me because they are searching for solutions, GREAT. Let’s roll up our sleeves and brainstorm. But . . . if they want the mike just so they can whine and moan, I tend to tune them out.

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  6. “…added little condiments of embellishment.” What a kind descriptor. 🙂 Staying with your food theme, I’ll admit to my visual of a massive mound of mashed potatoes – of congruence, sincerity and discretion. Anything less may not create requisite awareness.

    I’m a compassionate being and a thoughtful listener but I will not allow those you speak of to drain my energy, positive perspectives and zest for all that is good with life. When (usually) tempered, I look for openings in which to counter their annoyance with clear suggestions of expressing gratitude. When less tolerant, I will confront (albeit not in a conflicting way) and intentionally redirect someone who insists on spreading their woe into my space. I have found that both approaches have impact and the desired outcome.

    There are differences between an invitation, an acknowledged knock on the door and just barging in.

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  7. Don, I suspect that I’m not the only one that immediately thought of a recent conversation or written article that may fall under the “not so discrete” label. Sadly we may each recall our own failings in this too. Ouch! But, as aways, it is the heart attitude that renders words to be truly toxic or not; and when we blunder – let us learn. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in this present age? We are creatures of habit and extremes. Thank you for another thought provoking post. It is so easy to engage on your blog. It reminds me of visiting with one of my brothers.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Wendy for reminding us of our own failings around this issue. ” It reminds me of visiting with one of my brothers.” It’s one of the nicest things said about the blog. If that’s what it does to you, Wendy, then I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do. They’re just little conversational seeds and pieces. Thank you for that. Really appreciate what you say.

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  8. katy says:

    I so enjoyed reading all the different points of view your post provoked. I,m still chewing it over. Should one open up or shut up, that is the question!

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  9. Lorem Ipsum says:

    Interesting post! We’re all survivors of something, Don, are we not? However, I also tend to think, like you, it’s our egos that make us feel an individual sense of entitlement for having survived whatever it is we have. And, yes, celebrities do often seem to believe they were owed their fame/success almost, for having overcome some personal hardship earlier on along the way.

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Lorem. Yes, we are all survivors. So true. I suppose it has much to do with how we tell our stories of survival and the motives behind the telling.

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  10. sefeniak says:

    Whatever happened to discretion? That one word in your post really stood out. For me discretion is lacking in this world of ours.

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  11. katy says:

    I,ve chewed it over Don and generally my deepest thoughts are not for public conmsumtion and I don,t think the public would be interested anyway. However I do think we have a need to offload at timses and there is nothing better than a good and trusted preferably long time friend,

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Katy for your thoughts. I like the way you describe that intimate space where you offload. There’s something wonderfully congruent about what you say.

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  12. You’re right, Don, there is a fine line between the two. In my mother’s generation, there were women and children that keep horrible experiences buried and never talked about them to anyway, but in my generation it seems that victims volunteer for talk shows. Neither extreme is healthy, probably, and both silence and emotional public purging are dangerous extremes.

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  13. ladyfi says:

    We all need someone to unburden ourselves onto … but there is a fine line between this and being self-indulgent.

    Like

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