Thursday, April 29, 2021

Vulnerability as Power

Allow yourself to get hurt, but get over it. Accepting that things which hurt in fact hurt allows you to address the problem. In any case, almost all defences layered on top of vulnerability are more damaging than the pain they prevent. Many of them don't even work.

In particular, narcissistic ego defence is always worse than taking the ego hit. If someone has misunderstood you, let them. If someone can't see you as you really are, or has misapprehended what you said, then too bad. It's not a big deal. Yes, it will be unflattering. Their ego is even  more delicate than yours, after all. If they're not suffering from lead paint enthusiasm, they will figure it out sooner or later. If they are suffering from catastrophic head trauma... well, no amount of explanation or posturing can regenerate neurons, now can it? When a task is futile, it is best to give up. When a task is guaranteed to be either futile or unnecessary, it is very best to not attempt it.

Attempting to defend vulnerabilities is a prime example of Buddhist upadana. The harder you cling to the defence, the worse events slip through your fingers. Letting go, surrendering the need for control, ironically affords greater control. Surrender, in this case, is empowering.

Letting go of the defences allows you to feel what's actually there. In particular, it allows you to feel that the threat isn't as dangerous as you thought. Usually; try it first on small threats. If you find something that is genuinely hazardous, the best strategy still isn't defence. Rather, avoid the thing. If it's not optional, make it optional. Why would you expect anyone else to understand you when you can't understand yourself? If you can't handle a thing, a vulnerability-defence won't make you able to handle it. No amount of bravado can prevent a solid punch to the face from causing a concussion, and likewise no cognitive strategy can stop a psychic punch to the face being a punch in the face. 

At a crass level, allowing vulnerability affords higher social status. It functions as counter-signalling. Broke: deny the insult. Woke: don't get insulted. Bespoke: get insulted, agree, then ignore it. Either you already know, or they're full of shit.
At first glance, plainly admitting to the attack makes it look like you have so much social capital in the back room that you can afford to flush some away. "You're clumsy." "Yes, that's true. Do you have the wishbones I asked for?" The point of these moves is to cause pain and distraction. A vulnerable response socially de-fuses the attack in most cases. They can repeat it or reinforce it as many times as they like. If you've admitted it, they look obsessed and boring. They're the ones taking damage. It won't de-fuse the attack when they're completely crazy or firmly committed to finding fault, but then your problem is further upstream. Why are you hanging around crazies? This was always going to not work out for you.

When vulnerable, you can feel what's going on more vividly. This gives you more information than your competitors, affording opportunities to blind-side them. Likewise, even when alone, it is much easier to solve problems when you're more aware of the problem. 

Primarily, being vulnerable allows you to accept that problems are problems. Having accepted the problem is a problem, you can try to fix it. If you can fix it, you can stop being vulnerable to that problem. Vulnerability is anti-fragile. Letting go, allowing yourself to be hurt, is the only way to stop getting hurt. Trying to defend yourself only results in being worn down.

Bonus: you'll start feeling tough, because you run away less often. E.g. see a random hot girl. Challenge all your friends to hit on that girl. Watch them all chicken out. Go hit on the girl. Get rejected, deservedly. Hurt like a motherfucker. But: that's fine. You can take it. Act as smug as you want around your coward friends. Maybe next time try to sucker them into betting cash against you, such as proposing a terrible pick-up line.

Alt: challenge your friends to hit on the girl. Watch them all chicken out. Also chicken out, because you know you can't take it. But: that's fine. You can accept that you can't take it, and thus you're able to address the problem and fix it. Being vulnerable stops you doing stupid shit in an attempt to show how you're not vulnerable. Secondarily, if you know why you're getting hurt, you can consciously and intentionally find a situation which doesn't trigger the problem, and thus perform an end run around the issue.

1 comment:

Alrenous said...

I use the words of the Enemy, such as [vulnerability] because I'm more powerful than the Enemy. When I use them, rather than me becoming dirty, the words start getting cleansed. I am stronger because the Enemy is weak. I think you, too, can become powerful in this way.

Ye olde term for the topic at hand was [humility]. As with all virtues, it brings you into harmony and makes you more powerful.

What if you don't have a truckload of social capital in the back? If you can't afford to be called clumsy or whatever, but you are in fact clumsy, then humility is still the answer. The answer is still to accept it. Denial isn't going to magically re-stock the back room. If you're in fact clumsy, you're not going to be able to gaslight them out of thinking it. It doesn't work. Instead, choose power. Do something which works.