Power and Vulnerability: Getting Through
Often in our lives, we live quite well. We understand our position in the world, and we can find areas in our life in which we feel powerful. However, there are times when we're in situations which are foreign to us; these situations lead us to feeling dramatically less powerful and a lot more vulnerable. What are some of the pitfalls, and what can we do to manage power and vulnerability?
Power and Vulnerability
There seems such a strong relationship between expected (or anticipated) power and vulnerability. Further, we can be quite surprised how quickly a deterioration in our powerfulness raises our vulnerability. We can then second-guess ourselves, wondering if we have just been unlucky – or if we are somehow to blame.
A typical example might be someone who is confined to hospital for a period of time. Suddenly, no matter how powerful they are in their private life, they are subject to the routines and control of other people. Even though these changes might be in their best interests, the loss of power alone can lead to profound vulnerability. Being vulnerable is not necessarily a bad thing – but we need to know how to cope with it.
Our worst nature
One of the problems with being in a vulnerable position is that it quickly saps our resilience. This is a recipe for making poor decisions. Being suddenly vulnerable, we can find ourselves falling back on our worst natures; habits that we know don't work and our addictions. We no longer know how to be powerful in a way that is familiar to us, and this change is a rude awakening.
In order to come through this period, we need to understand that our power is – usually – only temporarily diminished. We need to roll with the system, and do what we can to live within its limits. Our focus needs to be on getting through intact so we can come back to our customary position of power. Coming back to our example, although hospitals are often now run with the explicit intent of being more responsive to the needs of patients, in practicality, there is often few choices that we have regarding our intensive healthcare.
In situations like this, if we can stay aware of the the relationship between power and vulnerability, then we can do more to protect ourselves.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Now, read about how to go on with too many regrets.
– Tim Hill