Vulnerability is an important framework of emotional healing. It allows you to have true, emotional connections with other people. In this episode, Amy Killingsworth shares an experience she had when she went into defensive mode. This experience prompted her to look into herself and understand on a deeper level why vulnerability is the opposite of defensiveness. Listen to this episode and understand why defensiveness is damaging and vulnerability-freeing. If you want to possess true strength, courage, and emotional freedom, this episode’s for you. Tune in!
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Why Vulnerability Helps You Heal Your Emotional Wounds And Become Emotionally Free
We are talking about pillar number six in the Rise to Reign framework, Vulnerability. I have to make a confession. If you’ve been with me all the way through, you might notice that vulnerability wasn’t in the original seven of the Rise to Reign principles. I actually replaced Community with Vulnerability, and I did it because of this experience that I’m getting ready to talk about right now. I always feel about myself and my life that I’m an archetypical prophetic figure.
I get to go through things and have experienced, so that I have material to teach you guys. You’re welcome because the things that I go through sometimes are very uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It’s all worth it because it’s part of God’s plan to help me fulfill my call in bringing this information and framework to you so that you can be healed and you can wholeheartedly live your purpose and love your life.
Let’s talk about vulnerability. First, I want to tell you, the pillar that I replaced vulnerability with was community. There are seven pillars and seven categories with Rise to Reign. One of the categories is actually relationships. I was looking at this and trying to find a place to fit vulnerability because I knew it was important to the framework of emotional healing. I noticed that relationships and community had a ton of overlap. I’m going to handle the community piece in the relationships category. Rise to Reign is seven pillars of wisdom applied to the seven categories of our life. The seven pillars are Identity, Sovereignty, Consent, Amnesty, which is a broad spectrum of forgiveness, Integrity, Polarity, which was masculinity and femininity, Vulnerability And Generosity.
The seven categories are Body, Mind, which is the mind, will, emotion, and soul, Spirit, Relationships, Finances, Creativity, and Calling. We take the seven pillars and apply them to the seven categories. What does it look like to have bodily sovereignty? For instance, I would be one way that we apply the pillar of sovereignty to our physical health. The idea of vulnerability was so important that I took out the community pillar and replaced it with vulnerability. The reason I did that was because I had an experience that rocked my emotional world. Without getting into a lot of detail, what happened was, I was having a conversation with someone and they said something that I was not expecting. It came out of left field for me and I wasn’t expecting to hear it.
As a coach and as a consultant, I have a skill that I’ve developed. When people say things that shock me, sometimes appall and horrify me, I can’t react to it. Somebody tells me something really vulnerable or they feel exposed. I’ve developed that skill. I think it’s a good skill, professionally, for putting people at ease so that they feel safe in a coaching relationship. I went into that space in a personal situation. What I ended up doing was instead of reacting the way that I was feeling, I went into self-defense. I completely armored up, shut down, came out of my core, and up to the surface. If you’ve ever been to Rise to Reign or if you come ever come to it in the future, I talk about how most of our communication and our relationships happened up here.
It’s like, “How is it going? How are your kids? How’s work?” You have this surface-level communication and that is not true connection. True connection is when you crack yourself open, you show inside of you, and the other person is the same when you connect. What I did in this situation is the opposite of that. I slammed every door shut, sat there, and made small talk and inside, I was reeling but on the outside, it was flippant and it doesn’t get to me or bother me. I walked away from that situation and I was so bothered by it, not necessarily by what was said, although I didn’t like that one bit.Vulnerability is an important framework of emotional healing. Click To Tweet
Integrity And Vulnerability Go Together
Not only did I not like it but in the context, I was not expecting it. If I’m telling the truth, I was maybe even a little mad about it because it seemed out of place in the context that it was in, but it wasn’t about what was said rather than my own reaction to it and really being out of integrity. I covered integrity in the last episode, and you’re going to see how integrity and vulnerability go together but they’re different, but you need both. In order to talk about vulnerability, but before I do, I have to talk about emotional addiction, primary wound and source belief.
This needs its own episode, and it’s important. I actually have it on the schedule to do it. This is not going to do it, but I have to use this to be able to explain this concept and how it works. We all have an emotional addiction and it’s a place that we go automatically when we feel hurt, threatened, and confronted with something that’s uncomfortable. It’s a place we automatically go. Think about the last time you were triggered or you felt uncomfortable by something that was said or done. Where do you go? Do you get mad? Do you go to disappointment?
Do you feel sorry for yourself? It’s your place that you hang out emotionally and it takes cultivating self-awareness to realize what that is, but they’re emotional addiction. You might say emotional addiction. The anger, disappointment, and self-pity really feel bad, and you’re right but we still get addicted to it because it becomes exciting to our nervous system. This is a whacked-out way of us feeling safe from our past. We develop our emotional addictions in childhood and because it feels familiar, even though it doesn’t feel good. You tend to go there, hang out there, and become addicted to that chemical. I lived through this in my childhood and my teen years in my early ‘20s. You can become addicted to chaos and drama.
How many of you know somebody that’s addicted to drama? They can’t be at peace or let things be calm. They’re always stirring something up or they make things harder than they have to be. That’s because they have an addiction to drama. They probably grew up in a chaotic household and their nervous system was constantly subjected to the bio-physical reality of that emotion and they became addicted to it even though it doesn’t feel good. Somebody may think about addiction like addiction to pornography, food, alcohol, or something that provides pleasure. When we talk about an emotional addiction, it doesn’t necessarily provide pleasure. It’s painful but it’s something where your nervous system feels at home.
I hope that is making sense. The emotional addiction stems from a primary wound. We all have a primary wound. You can have multiple wounds but we all have a primary wound. A primary wound is a thing that happened in such a repetitive motion or a message that we received. It’s so repetitive that it anchored into our subconscious and was a wound. It doesn’t have to be repetitive. It can be something so profound. If your dad walks out when you are 2 or 3 and your mother struggles to survive, that’s going to create a primary wound of abandonment. I did have a dad who was so emotionally unavailable and angry, which also created a wound of abandonment because there wasn’t anything there.
His body was there but there wasn’t anything there for me. I constantly felt abandoned. In life, it tends to reinforce these wounds. That’s part of the strategy of the enemy. It will have a message. John Eldredge calls it the Message of the Arrows. Your core wounding will have a pattern to it, and your life will sort of work to reinforce this wounding. That happens for a couple of reasons because I feel like there are forces at play that perpetuate that but also, when the core wound creates the emotional addiction and you’re addicted to that emotion, you create the situations and you attract them to reinforce the primary road. There’s the core wound and the emotional addiction.
The core wound is attached to a source belief. The wound is sending that happened, that hurt you. The source belief is the meaning that you gave it or the agreement that you made because of it. I’ll give you an example of mine without going into a lot of detail, and I will go into detail, but in another episode, because this one’s about vulnerability, but you have to understand this so that you can understand that. My emotional addiction was feeling disappointed but maybe a side of self-pity. That is something that I thankfully at my age, and I’ve done years of self-awareness and emotional healing work, but I still battle it. When something hits me hard, that’s where I go. I know that I go there and that’s the key. When you see the pattern, the pattern begins to dissolve but I can pull myself out of it, but I still go there.
My emotional addiction was feeling disappointed or let down and a little side of self-pity. The primary loon is abandonment and my source belief, which is always a lie, by the way. There’s never a source belief that is healthy and empowering but the source belief is I can’t depend on anyone or everyone will always let me down. No one is going to come true for me. That’s the cocktail of the source belief. In this situation, what happened was I had some information come at me from left field. Two things were going on. One is it rattled me. I went into defense and my mind was like, “Why do you care?” It’s because it wasn’t somebody that I know well. It wasn’t like it didn’t affect me, but it affected me for whatever reason.
I wasn’t honest about that. I was like, “That’s nice.” I totally went into self-protective mode. Vulnerability is the opposite of that. I armored up emotionally. You can’t hurt me. I’m not going to let that in because I don’t like the way that feels. You armor up and you basically are living a lie at that point. Vulnerability defines, and I’m using the work of Brené Brown here, as uncertainty risk and emotional exposure. It’s that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loos and control. In that moment, instead of going into self-defense and becoming armored up, I had some questions, honestly, like what the heck questions?
I needed to say what was true, what I was feeling and ask some questions and get some clarity on a few things, and I didn’t. I was like, “That’s fine. That’s okay.” It wasn’t fine. Instead of being authentic about that, it was flippant and armored-up about it. The other thing that Brené Brown says is, “Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s our most accurate measure of courage.” When I walked away from this situation, not only did I feel rattled and disappointed by the information that I received, but I was also disappointed in myself. You can see the ping pong of the emotional addiction. I was disappointed in myself because I teach this stuff. What am I doing on the stage?You have to be vulnerable to even ask for what you need. Click To Tweet
Having a show and coaching people, I don’t even follow my own rules. There was all this shame spiral and self-recrimination because vulnerability is not weakness. It’s our most accurate measure of courage because going into defense and putting armor up, that’s not strength. That is a weakness. It takes strength and knowing who you are to keep your heart open, even when it’s breaking and you’re threatened.
I like to always try to understand something when I’m trying to understand and wrestling with the concept. I like to understand it to find its opposite. The opposite of vulnerability is what I would call defensiveness. It’s going into a place of defensiveness. It’s that attitude like, “I don’t care. Whatever,” or it’s an active attack or attack back. In the integrity episode, I talked about the dynamic in male-female relationships that happen a lot, which is the silent treatment.
That’s defensiveness on display. It’s obviously not telling the truth, but it’s the punishment. Silent treatment is a form of punishment or passive-aggressiveness. You start slamming doors or forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning. You’re actually passive-aggressively punishing somebody because they hurt you instead of handling it head-on and being like, “What you said hurt my feelings. I feel hurt. I’m not blaming but saying. This is how I was affected by that,” and then asking for what you need. That’s vulnerability saying, “This is what happened and what you did or what you said affected me. This is what I need to be okay and get back to level and asking for it.”
The other person obviously is free to provide that or not providing but you have to be vulnerable to even ask for what you need. What we have is a lot of people running around without their needs met. Addiction is not emotional addiction necessarily but hard addictions like pornography, alcohol, drugs, and sex. Soft addiction is like social media and shopping. I feel like those are pretty detrimental but you have a lot of people with addictions. It’s a major problem. What addiction is getting a legitimate need met in an illegitimate way. The reason that people are drawn to getting their needs met illegitimately is because they’re not being vulnerable and asking for what they need typically in relationships because that requires vulnerability. The opposite of vulnerability is defensiveness.
What is defensiveness look like? It’s to withdraw. It’s to close down and pull behind a protective shield. That’s exactly what I did. If anybody knows me in my real life, I am an absolute open book and I cry at the drop of a hat. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I am not a closed-off defensive person. For me to go into that withdrawal and closed down, I’m so friendly but my heart is now behind a wall. My true self is now behind a wall. I’m bringing my false self and I’m bringing my representative to the conversation now because the real, true, honest, authentic Amy has left the building because she got scared. She’s like, “I’m out,” and here comes the princess. Here comes the slave or the prisoner to represent because the queen hit the road because she got rattled or scared.
Withdrawing closed down and pulling behind a protective shield is the opposite of vulnerability, which I call defensiveness. Defensiveness hides problems. It doesn’t fix them. Remember that feelings buried alive and never die. It locks the toxic tank shot. What’s in there are the feelings, spirit alive, the trauma, and the things in your nervous system that are unpleasant, only get worse. It festers and it rots. You think you’re keeping the hurt out, but what you’re doing is you’re locking it in. When you build walls and when you put armor on, you think that you’re keeping other people out or you’re keeping yourself safe from other people but what you are doing is you are keeping yourself behind that wall and you’re keeping yourself in prison.
We talk about the prisoner as an archetype of the lower self or the false self. This is a big part of that is when you build the walls, you really wall that person into the prison. You create the prison. You are the architect of the prison. Defenses are armor. We use to keep ourselves safe. I think it’s funny because I was actually reading one of my episodes and it was the song that I play unstoppable. She says, “I put my armor on.” I’m like, “Maybe that’s not the best lyric for the message that I want to convey.”
I love what comes after it, I’m unstoppable, but especially as women, we’re unstoppable when we are open and undefended. The undefended queen is the most powerful force in the universe because she’s open and secure. She knows who she is and she can hurt. We can hurt, we can experience pain, but we don’t have to suffer. The suffering comes from the meaning that we give the pain or we give the catalyzing event. The other thing that we can do is we can hurt and experience pain and do our emotional hygiene and tell the truth and do our forgiveness and not create a malignancy out of that pain.
The way that we do that is by saying undefended or being vulnerable. We defend active wounds and we defend the primary wound furiously. When you go into defense, you’re defending an active wound. When you have a wound that’s completely healed, you don’t feel the necessity to defend it anymore. We’re talking about a primary wound of mine, which was abandonment. This situation was so much self-awareness that like, “I still have work to do here.”
I shouldn’t be surprised because I teach this. You’ll always be doing this work of emotional healing for the rest of your life. Even if you get to a place where maybe you’ve mostly healed, what is in the central nervous system and the toxic tank, you’re still going to be doing your emotional hygiene because you’re going to come into situations that are painful. Life is hard and challenging. People hurt you, die, and let you down. You have to be able to approach life with an open heart and do your emotional hygiene so that you don’t continue to anchor in your patterns.
In this situation that I’m talking about, I can tell you by my reaction that the circumstance, although triggering, was really triggering something from the past. I know to the level of which I reacted to it gave me some self-awareness on some other stuff about how I felt about this person in this situation. The level of emotional energy around my response but also gave me some self-awareness about the fact that I needed to pay attention. Maybe some more healing was necessary. When we go into defensiveness, we actually create what we defend against. This is what satisfies our emotional addiction. Let me show you how this works. In this situation, if my primary wound is, “People are going to let me down. People are going to disappoint me.” Abandonment. That’s my source belief.
My primary wound is abandonment. My source belief is people can’t be trusted. Nobody is going to come true for me. People always let me down. I receive a bit of information that is uncomfortable, I closed down, go into self-defense, and don’t show my true self. I just abandoned myself. How can anybody else show up for me if I’m not showing up for me? They can’t. That reinforces the emotional addiction of feeling disappointed and it reinforces a source belief that nobody is going to come true for me. If I don’t come true for me, nobody is going to come true for me. We initiate an internal war that we can’t win. The solution to it is to intentionally choose vulnerability. Vulnerability is letting our guard down and taking our armor off.
It’s an open-hearted response to hurt and it’s a choice to keep our heart open even if it’s breaking or we’re in pain. We can still keep our hearts open and we do this because we know who we are. I’ll talk about that in a little bit. What did I do in this situation? First of all, I was talking to a close friend of mine that knows my work well. She actually works with me and I couldn’t get past it. She confronted me a little bit and she’s like, “I think you’re upset about the necessary situation but about you weren’t true to yourself. You didn’t show up the way that you tell people to show up.”
I was like, “Busted.” It broke it up for me. I had to go back and clean this situation up for my integrity. I had to go back and humble myself and say, “I played it cool in that situation but I felt anything but cool and here’s what I felt and think with the benefit,” because I had a little processing to do. When something catches you off guard, you can’t necessarily access like, “Here’s how I feel about this. Here’s what’s going on inside of me.” I had the benefit of processing and men need this even more than women. It’s the time to take and process but I was able to come to a place of clarity and with emotional intelligence. I was able to take my armor off, opened my heart and be like, “Here’s what’s true.”
Telling The Truth Without ManipulationTo be emotionally free, you have to let go of what other people will think of you. Click To Tweet
Vulnerability is required to tell the truth without manipulation. Episode number eight is Integrity, where I talked about living in the light of truth. In order to live in the light of truth, a prerequisite to integrity is vulnerability. You have to make yourself vulnerable to be able to tell the truth without manipulation because defensiveness is a mechanism of control. It’s a mechanism of trying to control your environment and control people around your reaction so that you can be okay. It’s called codependency. It’s an outworking of a type of codependency. Vulnerability is required. It’s a prerequisite to tell the truth without manipulation and vulnerability requires that you know who you are and you’re not diminished by someone else choices or opinions and that speaks to identity.
When I was cleaning up this issue, it was hard for me because I didn’t know this person well and they definitely don’t know me very well. There’s all this like, “This is crazy. What are they going to think and how are they going to respond?” I know that when I’m in that realm of thinking about what their response is going to be, I’m over. I’m away from the truth and in manipulation. I have to constantly pull myself back into the place of clarity and telling the truth without manipulation and letting their reaction. Be what it is. We have to set people free from managing our emotional states.
If you want to be in a relationship with people, if you want to work with people or live alongside people, you have to set other people free from the responsibility of making you okay inside. That’s what I did. I said, “Here’s the actual, honest, undefended truth.” Do it with what you will. You’re free. You don’t have to respond in a certain way. You can only do that if you know who you are and that you’re not diminished by someone else choices or opinions. Listen to me when I say that other people’s stuff has nothing to do with you. Even when somebody treats you badly, it has nothing to do with you. It has to do with what’s going on inside of them and their emotional patterning.
What’s going on inside of their heart, life, and mind. It has absolutely nothing to do. I’ve heard this said over and over again. People’s opinion of you is none of your business. If you’re trying to constantly be on like a PR campaign and make sure that everybody thinks that you’re cool and awesome, and whatever, you’re going to live a false life, that’s the princess or the prince.
To come to this place of feeling at home in your skin and feeling emotionally free, being emotionally free, you have to let go of what other people are going to think of you. Tell the truth without manipulations. It’s really important. Vulnerability is also required for true connection. If you’re in that place where you’re sending your representative and your representative is interacting with this person, you’re not connecting because you have to be down here. You can’t be up here to connect.
You have to be down here to connect. You have to show up as your authentic self and they have to show up as their authentic self. That’s where true, honest intimacy and connection happens. Let me say this vulnerability is a very feminine quality, so being vulnerable, being open is a very feminine quality. However, we mentioned like men have to access feminine qualities to be in a relationship. Men have to cultivate vulnerability as well and use it at inappropriate times. It’s harder, I think maybe for them, but it’s hard for us too but it’s worth it. Vulnerability also requires you to surrender and give up control of people in situations. I already talked about setting people free. I’m going to wrap vulnerability up with this. This is in Proverbs, guard your heart.
I’m saying keep your heart open. Can you keep your heart open and guard it at the same time? Guarding your heart is different than armor and has to do with not people’s thoughts and opinions but people’s choices and behaviors that hurt you. Somebody speaks to me in a tone or in a way that diminishes me, I’m going to set a boundary and I’m going to be like, “No, you can’t talk to me that way or I’ll leave.” If somebody does something or chooses something that hurts me, I can set a boundary on that behavior and be like, “I won’t tolerate that,” but I don’t close my heart. When you close your heart and send your representative, that is trying to manipulate somebody else thoughts, feelings, or opinions where you’re concerned.
When you set a boundary, you’re guarding your heart from hurt by saying, “Your behavior isn’t going to fly with me. That’s not acceptable.” You set boundaries in an undefended place and boundaries actually create the culture of safety so that your heart can stay open. It’s important to have an open heart because that’s where you feel, love, and connect. If you’re used to going into defense, shutting down, sending your false self in your representative, I want to challenge you to start practicing in context and vulnerability and seeing how it changes your life and relationships. That is it for this episode. Thanks so much for reading. Remember, God wants you healed so you can wholeheartedly live your purpose and love your life. I’ll see you next time.
- Episode – How You Can Handle Your Emotions With Integrity
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Are you a Prisoner or a Queen? (or something in between)
The four archetypes help you distinguish between your true identity and how you might react in times of stress or out of unhealed wounds. Your identity is defined as: a) The condition of being a certain person and/or b) the characteristics by which a person is known. How do you see yourself? How do others see you? Who does God say you are? By understanding the prisoner, slave, princess (prince) and Queen (King), you can be intentional about choosing to show up as your true self and stepping away from patterns of dysfunction.
You were born to reign. But you have to know who you are first. In this free download, I explain the four Rise to Reign Archetypes (Prisoner, Slave, Princess & Queen). Self awareness creates the ability to shift in the direction of your wildest dreams instead of your worst fears.